Thomas the Tank can’t stay trapped on the Island of Sodor forever. He needs to get out and see the world. Luckily for us in Chicago, he’s chugging our way and bringing along his friend Percy. The smiley blue train rolls up to Illinois Railway Museum July 9, 10, 16 and 17, for Day Out With Thomas: Dream Big Tour. This event held in Union books fast, so add it to the top of your summer bucket list.  Read on to get the details so you don’t miss the chance to ride on a larger-than-life Thomas locomotive.

Day Out with Thomas: Dream Big Tour Activities

Go, Thomas, Go! (And, Percy, Too!)

The main event, of course, is the ride on Thomas himself. And this year, you can ride on a big Percy train too. You purchase tickets for specific time slots, so overcrowding isn't an issue. Grab your seat and enjoy the scenery, a rolling landscape of pretty forest and prairie land. If your little caboose enthusiast tires of looking out the window, he or she can eye up the colorful train decorations, including pictures of the Thomas & Friends characters.

Storytelling, Crafts & Other Adventures

Along with taking a 20-minute journey on Thomas the Tank, the entire Illinois Railway Museum is open for exploring and is packed with activities. Steer the kids toward the Thomas & Friends party corners, lively areas that include themed activities, lawn games, live entertainment, a magic show, a pop-up gift shop with exclusive toys and an appearance by Sir Topham Hatt, the dapper railway controller. 

What Else You’ll See at Illinois Railway Museum

Too-Cool Historic Trains 

There's a lot to see at Illinois Railway Museum, which happens to be the largest railway museum in the U.S. The cultural gem showcases real steam engines from the Golden Age of Railroad, including those from the historic Milwaukee Road, Chicago, Burlington Northern and Union Pacific lines. Throughout the summer and at the Thomas event, some of its fleet is fully operational and you can go for a ride to feel what transportation was like in the old days. On the move are steam and diesel trains, plus a vintage street car that makes several stops around the museum.

Where’s Thomas?

Where Else Does Thomas Visit?

Because Day Out With Thomas is so special and only comes to town once a year, it usually sells out. As of press time, tickets are still available. If you don't catch the event while it's in town, the closest place to attend is Flint, MI, Aug. 19-21 & 26-28.

Check the calendar for other events at the Illinois Railway Museum this year. Chugga chugga, everyone!

Day Out With Thomas: Dream Big Tour

Held July 9, 10, 16 & 17
Tickets are $23 for a ride on Thomas; $10 additional for a ride on Percy; free for ages 2 & under
Tickets available online at

Illinois Railway Museum, 7000 Olson Rd., Union; Online:
For general information on Day Out With Thomas, visit the dedicated website.

— Maria Chambers

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