All aboard! If your child has a love of locomotives, they will enjoy the many railroad experiences throughout Minnesota. While our state has a variety of wonderfully restored trains, engaging exhibits, working railroads and fun train-themed events, here is our list of some of the best to bring your little aspiring conductor to.
End-O-Line Railroad Park & Museum
440 N. Mill St.
Currie, MN 56123
Harken back to the days of a small frontier railroad town at the End-O-Line Railroad Park & Museum. Here, visitors can tour the authentic depot, admire the HO model train display or check out a real steam engine and caboose. The park also includes many buildings that give a tiny train-town feel, including a general store, church and foreman's house. Afterwards, utilize the six-mile bike and pedestrian trail which is attached to the End-O-Line Park.
Jackson Street Roundhouse
193 Pennsylvania Ave. E.
St. Paul, MN 55130
Train enthusiasts of any age will enjoy the historic Jackson Street Roundhouse, a former maintenance facility for steam engines. Kids can explore exhibits detailing local railroad history and experience one of the last operating roundhouse turntables in the US. Restoration of classic steam engines and other vintage operating equipment can also be viewed. Many events take place here, including the upcoming 50th Anniversary Celebration of the Minnesota Transportation Museum on July 20, 2013 and on select Wednesdays, children can take part in train-themed story times and crafts.
Choo Choo Bob's
2050 Marshall Ave.
St. Paul, MN 55104
Interactive train tables, railroad displays and aisles of train-inspired products fill Choo Choo Bob's in St. Paul. Kids are encouraged to play with the train sets in the back of the store, ask the employees questions about their favorite trains and come for the railroad-inspired song and story times. Events are regularly scheduled throughout the year as well at the Choo Choo Bob's store or on location. Choo Choo Bob's has been so popular amongst the children that a show of the same name is now on select local television stations during the weekend.
Twin City Model Railroad Museum
1021 Bandana Blvd. E., Suite 222
St. Paul, MN 55108
This is a model railroad fan's dream. The Twin Cities Model Railroad Museum will fascinate kids with the vast amount of railway models and surrounding scenes. There are historical reproductions of local landmarks, a toy train division and a hands-on section for tiny fingers to test out their prowess as a conductor. Throughout the winter, the museum has an annual "Night Trains" exhibit where visitors can experience the trains running through elaborate models of snowy villages dotted with Christmas tree lights and moonlit scenes of familiar metro-area attractions.
North Shore Scenic Railroad
506 W. Michigan St.
Duluth, MN 55802
The North Shore Scenic Railroad has a variety of excursions that will entertain the whole family. Daily 2.5-hour roundtrips from Duluth up to the North Shore throughout summer and fall on the Family Music & Pizza Train will keep your family fed and fascinated by the scenery. There are also frequent special excursions, like the Thomas the Train experience, which includes a 25-minute ride on a full-size version of the popular storybook character. Sir Topham Hatt is even around to snap pictures with the littlest aspiring train engineers.
Cortney Mohnk is a freelance writer covering all things Minnesota. Her work can be found on Examiner.com.
for more features.