When it comes to trains, some kids cannot seem to get enough. There are plenty of train activities in Chicagoland, but why not take them on a real train adventure? The commuter Metra train line offers so many places to choose for family fun.
Also, you can take advantage Metra’s family deals! On weekdays, kids ages under 7 ride free and kids ages 7-11 save 50 percent on one-way fares. For weekends and select holidays, kids ages 11 and under ride free. These discounts apply to up to three kids for each fare-paying adult.
We’ve rounded up our favorite stops on the Metra lines that you can make into a terrific train trip. For each stop, check out our recommended restaurants, shops and other fun places to check out with kids.
Milwaukee District North (MD-N)
Just hop off at the station and hit the ground running. Doughnut lovers flock to Joe Donut for its made-from-scratch doughnuts (snag them early before they run out!), other goodies and strong coffee. Craving ice cream? A stop at the family favorite Glenview Dairy Bar (open seasonally) is a must followed by Jackman Park to tire out the kids. Looking for quiet time? Hit up the Glenview Public Library.
Consider Northbrook your destination for a fun day out at the park. Hop off the train and make your way to the very fun Village Green Park. Slide, swing and run around until hunger hits. Little Louie’s is across the street offering kid favorites like burgers and hot dogs. End the day with a treat at Graeter’s Ice Cream.
Union Pacific Northwest (UP-NW)
Stop: Crystal Lake
This stop at downtown Crystal Lake has plenty to keep you busy. Hang out and relax at the super cozy Aroma Coffee and Wine where they also serve lunch, a charcuterie board and, of course, wine. Check out the adorable independent toy Marvin’s Toy Store, or make your own art at Color Me Mine. Don’t leave without grabbing popcorn from Pop’s Corn Crib for the trip back.
Woodstock is known for being the filming location for Bill Murray’s Groundhog Day, so take a walking tour first. For chocolate fans, stop at Ethereal Confections where they have decadent chocolate bars. Feel like you’ve stepped inside Alice in Wonderland at the tea house, Casting Whimsy. Other places to see are independent bookstore Read Between the Lynes and Woodstock Classic Cinemas to catch a family flick.
Union Pacific North (UP-N)
Stop: Kenosha, Wisconsin
This out-of-state adventure begins just down the street from the train station at the free Dinosaur Discovery Museum. You can find even more museums by hopping on Kenosha’s electric streetcar. If the weather is in your favor, take time to walk along the lakefront to see art sculptures and lighthouses.
Milwaukee District West (MD-W)
Dine first at the train restaurant, 2 Toots Train Whistle & Grill, where trains deliver food to you. Walk down the street to hit up the shops at Banbury Fair where they have antiques, clothes for women and children, a candy shop and ice cream. Kids will enjoy bowling and playing arcade games at Midway Landing Bowling Alley.
Get off the train with an empty stomach because there are restaurants, breweries, breakfast joints and treat shops aplenty just steps from the Brookfield station. Begin the day with a cup of joe at Gosia’s Coffee Shop while your kiddo is entertained with books and toys in the kids corner. Then, get a hearty breakfast from Brookfield Breakfast before heading to Galloping Ghost Arcade to play pinball and classic arcade games for as long as your kiddo’s heart desires — an all-day pass costs $25. Once you’re burnt out on games, the walk back to the station will have your little one napping the entire train ride home.
Stop: Downers Grove
Hit the lanes and challenge each other to a classic game or two at Tivoli Bowl. Then, get ready for afternoon tea at Pinecone Cottage Tea House. Kids will love shopping at My Special Toy Store or Fair Game . For sweets, grab ice cream at Every Day’s A Sundae or something for your pup at from Happy Dog Barkery.
Just steps away from the Naperville train station is the DuPage Children’s Museum. Your child will have a blast as they play and learn at the museum’s interactive exhibits, including the new Math Connections exhibit. Once they’ve worked up an appetite, head to the historic downtown for lunch. Grab burgers and other tasty sandwiches at Empire Burgers + Brews or JoJo’s Shake Bar, then walk off your meal along Naperville’s scenic riverwalk, which features brick paths, fountains, bridges and more. The downtown area is dotted with ice cream shops if you’re looking for a sweet treat, but none compare to Cookie Dough Creations, a shop of tasty treats that has been serving up edible cookie dough since 1994.
Heritage Corridor (HC)
On 9th and State streets, you can take a stroll through the downtown area of Lockport to spot historic architecture and murals. The I&M Canal offers free access to the 11-mile Gaylord Donnelley Trail and Lincoln Landing, which shares how President Lincoln was connected to Lockport. For shops, spend time at Amazing Fantasy Books & Comics or Beanie’s Candy Store.
Metra Electric (ME)
Stop: 111th St. (Pullman)
Pullman Historic District provides a great learning day in the South Side. You can spend lots of time at Pullman National Monument with attractions and historical buildings all within walking distance. Down the street, grab a bite to eat at One Eleven Food Hall providing you with three dining experiences. Keep an eye out for family-friendly events offered at Pullman Arts.
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