If your child is experiencing the typical train obsession, then you know that they always go crazy at the sight of one. Make their day by taking out the entire family to the these train activities and experiences across the Chicago area.
Did you know kids under 7 ride free on the CTA? The Chicago L offers more than 140 stations, which gives you easy access to the elevated trains. Buy a 1-Day pass ($10) to make it a day of exploring all the colored rail lines or stopping at a few neighborhoods on the ride.
You have so many options when riding with Metra. If you head downtown, spend extra time at these downtown stations to see all different kinds of trains lined up in one spot.
- Address: 4501 N. Clarendon Ave., Chicago
At Clarendon Park Community Center, you can watch model train enthusiasts marvel over the biggest train model set in Chicago. With around 1,400 feet of hand-laid track, it takes about 25 minutes to complete a round trip. Visitors are welcome to drop in every Friday (except for the first Friday of the month) from 7 to 9 p.m.
- Address: 1000 Lake Cook Road, Glencoe
Through Oct. 13, Chicago Botanic Garden showcases America with a 7,500-square-foot layout. With 26 bridges and up to 50 miniature national landmarks, you can spend hours watching the 18 model trains running on 18 tracks.
- Address: 5700 S. Lake Shore Drive, Chicago
The Great Train Story is a classic attraction at MSI, since you can travel around the country in minutes from Chicago to Seattle. Your little ones won’t get bored looking at all the scenery and remarkable details on the 1,400-foot moving track.
- Address: 7000 Olson Road, Union
This museum is worth the drive to Union since it’s one of the largest railway museums in the United States. Your kids can run around outside to see historic railway equipment from gigantic train artifacts to railroad signs. Don’t forget to buy a train-themed souvenir on the way out!
- Address: 124 N. 9th St., Rochelle
Open 24 hours a day, Rochelle Railroad Park operates as a park to see operating trains. Pack up a picnic because you’ll have to sit and wait for the trains to pass by. Rail fans will love to see the variety of real trains working in action.
- Address: 7025 Ogden Ave., Berwyn
Local toy stores are known for having a train track, but Berwyn’s Toys & Trains take it to the next level. The shop specializes in an operating model train for customers to enjoy. While you’re there, go shopping for trains, dolls, Lego and more.
- Address: 600 Lee St., Des Plaines
Experience a one-of-a-kind dining adventure in this train-themed diner. Your kiddos will get a kick out of the train serving their burgers and fries. Sign up for their kids’ birthday club in advance to get one free meal coupon during your child’s birthday month. Note: The restaurant is closed on Tuesdays.
- Address: 100 Barnes Road, Aurora
While Blackberry Farm is always worth the visit, your kids would immediately ask for a chance to ride the farm’s Big Rock Steam Train. The 7-minute ride takes a trip around Lake Gregory and you’ll be able enjoy unlimited rides since all attractions are included in general admission.
- Address: DuPage County Fairgrounds, 2015 Manchester Road, Wheaton
Every month, The Great Midwest Train Show entertains train enthusiasts with an average of 180 exhibitors. See operating train tables, train Lego exhibits, discounts and more family fun. Kids under 12 get in for free.
- Address: 203 S. Main St., Bartlett and 1567 N. Aurora Road, Naperville
Here’s another train restaurant chain that your kiddos will love! The owners behind 2Toots Train Whistle Grill believe in old-fashioned fun and their passion for toy trains brings lots of charm to their two locations in the suburbs. Join the 2Toots Birthday Club for a personalized letter in the mail, along with a free kid’s meal and train whistle cupcake. Yum!