If your mini conductor goes off the rails for all things trains, there are plenty of thrilling Dallas train rides and engaging train museums that will have kids whistling like a steam engine with excitement
Your little locomotive lovers keep up with Thomas the Tank Engine on television, and make him the star of their train table, but you can really wow them by taking them to see and ride real, life-size trains (including Thomas himself!) in all their historic glory throughout Dallas and Fort Worth. As you’d expect, the wild west has plenty of train rides for kids, so we’re putting you on the right track with this list of the best places for kid-friendly train adventures—from being in awe of magnificent miniature train exhibits to climbing aboard life-size ones. All you have to do is choo-choose your favorite outing and have a blast.
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Museum of the American Railroad
Be sure to get your tickets to join the Museum of the American Railroad at the Grapevine Vintage Railroad for their “Day Out With Thomas” event Oct. 7-9 and 14-16. During this terrific train experience, kids will get to enjoy an interactive train ride aboard Thomas, meet Sir Topham Hatt and dive into an array of activities including lawn games, Play Pod fun, photo-ops, and a pop-up gift shop.
Aside from this off-location special event, the Museum of the American Railroad houses the indoor model train exhibit, Traintopia, at its own location. Don’t miss the chance to let kids revel in this marvel that cost more than a million dollars and 20,000 hours to bring to life. The 2,500 square-foot permanent exhibit has 638 cars and locomotives that sprawl across an extraordinary miniature world. It’s a sight to behold.
Before you head to the museum, up the ante by printing out the scavenger hunts online so kids can try to locate everything from mini mine trains to Frisco box cars throughout Traintopia. You can also go on a guided tour of the museum’s wow-worthy, rolling stock collection of trains, which is representative of more than a century of America’s rail history.
Insider Tip: Be sure to wear close-toed shoes due to uneven terrain and gravel, and bring a hat and water. Opt for the combo Walking Tour and Traintopia option when booking tickets if you’d like to do both on your visit.
8004 N. Dallas Pkwy.
The Trains at NorthPark
This cherished holiday tradition has been going strong for 35 years, with its proceeds benefitting the Ronald McDonald House. Visitors young and old will be mesmerized by the miniature train exhibit, which spans 1,600 feet of track and depicts a journey from America’s east to west coasts with stops in Dallas, New York City, San Francisco, and more. The Trains at NorthPark exhibit runs from Nov. 12-Jan. 6, so be sure to stop by before its final departure!
8687 N. Central Expy.
Grapevine Vintage Railroad
Travel back in time with a ride on an authentic 1920s Victorian coach on the Grapevine Vintage Railroad. If you’re traveling with older kids, take a fun day trip to the Cotton Belt Route, which leaves from the Grapevine Depot and travels to the historic Fort Worth Stockyards.
If your excursion includes very young train enthusiasts and infants, choose the Tahwahkarro Creek Train Excursion or the Trinity River Train Excursion, as both are short round trip rides that are ideal for these age groups. Also good to know: the Grapevine Train Depot is just an easy stroll away from the shopping and restaurants on Main Street in Historic Downtown Grapevine.
Insider Tip: Don’t miss the upcoming, seasonal North Pole Express train ride with Santa and Mrs. Claus, which is a holiday trip to remember!
705 S. Main St.
Forest Park Miniature Railroad
After all this looking at trains, most kids will really want to climb aboard and ride one. The Forest Park Miniature Railroad is considered a landmark in Fort Worth and dates back to the late 1950s. Board the train to embark on a five-mile ride that crosses six bridges and takes passengers around Fort Worth’s Trinity Park and the TCU/Zoo area. Tickets are cash only, and children under 1 year old ride for free.
1700 Colonial Pkwy.
Ft. Worth, TX
Interurban Railway Museum
Head to historic Plano for plenty of train-inspired fun. Kids can behold a model train that circles the museum’s 1920s O-Scale model of downtown Plano to see what the locale looked like more than 100 years ago. The interactive electricity room will engage and educate all ages by demonstrating magnetism, battery circuits, high voltage visualizations, and electrical generators, and the main exhibit hall explains the story behind the Texas Electric Railway system amongst many exhibits that will captivate kids.
901 E. 15th St.
Trinity Railway Express/DART Rail
Switch up a day trip with the kids by ditching the car and commuting between Dallas and Fort Worth on the Trinity Railway Express (TRE). Purchase the Regional Day Pass for $12 and you get unlimited rides all day on DART, Trinity Metro, and the TRE. The DART light rail offers an abundance of stops along the way at places kids will love, like the Dallas Zoo and Farmers Branch Historical Park (which has a railroad depot and caboose that dates back to 1877).
Texas Eagle Train
Seeking a lengthier train excursion in Texas and beyond? Book a trip to climb aboard the Amtrak’s Texas Eagle Train! The train travels between Chicago and San Antonio, passing through cities including Dallas and Austin. If you want to see Texas via train, opt for the route that takes you through Dallas, Austin, and San Antonio, and take in sights like the University of Texas, the Alamo and the Riverwalk. This daily passenger train route covers 1,306 miles of track from start to finish and offers quite a fun way to travel for train lovers.
It’s not a train per se, but riding the M-Line Trolley is definitely an experience that train-loving kids won’t want to miss. The M-Line serves a route that’s 4.6 miles long within uptown and downtown Dallas, and features seven vintage trolley cars. When you hop on, you’ll be asked to “name your fare” on this “free” service and drop cash or coins in the Trolley’s fare box. Check the Trolley’s 39 stops to see which one works best for you. If you opt to ride the entire route, it will take about an hour.