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Best Railroad Museums For Kids

By Mindie Burgoyne

Baltimore is the birthplace of American railroading.  Railroad history is chronicled well in railway museums throughout Maryland, and some of those museums are particularly kid-friendly, having exhibits and attractions geared toward children and families.

B & O Railroad Museum's Ellicott City Station
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B & O Railroad Museum, Ellicott City Station

711 Maryland Ave.
Ellicott City, Md. 21043
(410) 461-1945
Hours: Wednesday to Sunday, 11 a.m.-4 p.m. Closed Monday and Tuesday.
Price: Adults $5, Seniors (60+) $4, Children (2-12) $3, Children under 2 free, Members free
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The B & O Railroad Station at Ellicott City was the first railroad station in America.  It's a great first museum for kids to see an early railroad in its authentic state.  There is a model train village showing the original first 13 miles of track ever laid that went from Ellicott City to Baltimore.  The museum is small, but kids love antique trains, the scale model train, and the guides that sometimes appear in period costumes.

10.21 Family and Pets BEst Railroad Museums
Photo Credit: Mindie Burgoyne

B & O Railroad Museum – Baltimore

901 W. Pratt St. 
Baltimore, Md. 21223
(410) 752-2490
Hours: Monday - Saturday, 10 a.m. - 4 p.m. Sunday, 11 a.m. - 4 p.m.
Price:  Adults - $14, Seniors (60+) - $12, Children (2-12) - $8, B&O Members – FREE
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The B & O Railroad Station in Baltimore continues to build up its exhibits for kids.  The blue steam engine character Choo-Choo Blue, identifies sites around the museum that are specifically kid-friendly.  There's a toddler station where little ones can color, do puzzles and experience hands-on railroad exhibits.  There are opportunities to sit in authentic antique rail cars, including the conductor's seat in a steam engine.  Outside there is a large garden space that includes a carousel, scale model train village and Choo-Choo Blueville, a ride for small children that weaves in and around buildings that make up the imaginary village, Blueville.  Older kids are entertained by the roundhouse full of antique trains, and seasonal displays, and real train cars that visitors can enter.  The B & O Railroad Museum can be equally enjoyed by adults and kids.

Chesapeake Beach Railway Museum

4155 Mears Ave
Chesapeake Beach, Md. 20732
(410) 257-3892
Hours:  Mid-March - Weekends Only - 1 - 4 p.m. April - October - Daily & Weekends - 1- 4 p.m.  Special Weekend Hours - June through August - 11 a.m. - 5 p.m. November - Weekends Only - 1-4 p.m.  Special visits as staffing allows.
Price: Free
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The Chesapeake Beach Railway Museum depicts the history of a railroad that was specifically geared to bring families to a waterfront amusement park.  Scale models, artifacts and a DVD movie about the park will keep kids' attention before they inspect The Dolores – the last known passenger rail car of the train that traveled the Chesapeake Beach Railway.

Brunswick Railroad Museum
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Brunswick Railroad Museum

40 W. Potomac St.
Brunswick, Md. 21716
(301) 834-7100
Hours:  Friday 10 a.m.- 2 p.m., Saturday 10 a.m.- 4 p.m., Sunday 1-4 p.m.
Price: Adults - $6, Children (4-12) - $3

The Brunswick Railroad Museum highlights the lifestyle of people living in a railroad town.  Exhibits include period clothing, photographs, furniture, toys and other artifacts from family life at the time.  There's a great hands-on activity room for kids on the first floor, and a scale model railroad showing the route from Union Station in D.C. back to Brunswick.

Canal Place – Home of the Western Maryland Scenic Railroad
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Western Maryland Scenic Railroad

13 Canal Street
Cumberland, Md.  21502
(301) 749-4400
Hours:  11:30 a.m. Thursday – Sunday, May through December.  Schedules vary.  Check website for exact times.  Reservations required in October.
Price: Adults -$30, Seniors (60+) - $28, Children (12 & under) - $16. 
Children under 2 ride free if sitting on adult's lap.
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The Western Maryland Scenic Railroad is not a museum, but the experience kids get from riding on antique train cars pulled by an authentic steam engine generates railroad learning fun as well or better than any stationary museum could.  Canal Place in Cumberland has the fully renovated Western Maryland Train Station, once a great hub of commerce.  Kids can stand on the same platform as passengers did 100 years ago, and have a similar experience riding the rails through the Allegheny Mountains.  The train excursion is 3 ½ hours round trip, and goes from Cumberland to Frostburg and then returns to Canal Place.  For older kids who can maneuver a bicycle well, try taking the bikes on the train to Frostburg, but instead of riding the train back to Cumberland, ride the bikes back along the Great Allegheny Passage, a trail that runs parallel to the track. It's all downhill on the return.

 Mindie Burgoyne is an author, travel writer and tour guide living on the Eastern Shore of Maryland.  Her blog, The Travel Hag shares information on outdoor travel for women.  She is the author of Haunted Eastern Shore: Ghostly Tales from East of the Chesapeake.

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