Train Lovers in Chicagoland

Chugga chugga choo choo!  It is quite the challenge to find a child who isn’t fascinated by trains of all sizes and kids.  I’m not sure what it is….the noise of the engine, the spiraling tracks….but trains are guaranteed to capture the attention of kids of all ages (and parents, too).  Here are some great places to indulge your little train lovers:


A Feast for the Eyes


Chicago Botanic Gardens Model Railroad Garden

I’ve never seen a train exhibit as GORGEOUS as this one.  Trains travel through pint size replicas of historic landmarks made from all natural materials.  And in the winter the trains travel through a snow laden Winter Wonderland.  It is truly spectacular.

Museum of Science and Industry

Check out the wide range of trains that travel though Chicago replicas, national landmarks, and much more.  Little ones may need a boost from some of the special steps throughout the exhibit so that they can peer over the railings.


All Aboard!


Chicago History Museum

You and your kiddos can explore both steam engines and antique EL trains at this off the radar museum.  Be sure to bring your camera to document the HUGE size of these massive machines.

Fox River Valley Trolley Museum

Take a step back in time and ride the trolley from the museum to a beautiful preserve.  Make an afternoon of it and pack a picnic to enjoy at the end of the line.

Ken Alley Safety Park

This Schaumburg park not only has a huge train structure to climb on and play around as part of the playground, but it also has a train that kids can ride as part of the tour package.  It is the perfect way to have a train themed birthday party for your little engineer.


Lincoln Park Zoo

A new addition to the zoo, kids can take a ride on the Lionel Train Adventure.  Get the cameras ready for this super cute photo opp.

Old Orchard Mall

In addition to the fun water fountains, ponds, outdoor play space, and other interactive activities is the crown jewel of Old Orchard Mall: The train!  This fun ride weaves up and down the mall courtyard and if you are lucky enough to have squirmy kiddos, you get to ride as well.  Located near the Crate and Barrel store.


The Dining Car


The Choo Choo Restaurant 

This classic Des Plaines diner is the perfect place to take your train lover for a fun meal of diner food, including the best milk shakes I have EVER had.  Just remember to bring cash, ditch the stroller, and fill out the card to be part of the birthday club—birthday kids receive a free meal every year for their special day.


2Toots Train Whistle Grills

These veteran owned restaurants serve healthy organic meals to train lovers from a myriad of different train tracks throughout the restaurant.  Check out their locations in Barlett and Glen Elllyn (expanded from Downer’s Grove location).


Oh, and if you haven’t done so already, try to track down an opening on the Polar Express.  Numerous Park Districts throughout the Chicagoland area sponsor these events but they sell out rather quickly.  You can find more information here.


Have a plane lover instead?  Here are some great places to get up close and personal with some enormous and beautiful planes in Chicagoland.


Happy Exploring!
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    • amandasimkin says

      We are big train lovers so even a drive to the grocery store is an adventure if we get to see a train along the way!

  1. Tom says

    My son would be in heaven!! He has loved trains forever. I think we will have to take a road trip next summer and visit!!

  2. Nikki says

    That looks like so much fun! The first time I took a train was in Chicago, except it wasn’t a cool train. Just the regular old train to get you from point A to B.

  3. Nancy L. says

    My son was crazy about trains when he was younger and even now that he is 20 yrs, he still loves them! This would be a great mini vacation stop for us. We’re not too far from Chicago! 🙂

  4. Paula says

    Wow! That’s an amazing list of train activities! Wish we lived in the area to take in some of them. Maybe a road trip is in order….!

  5. Apryl says

    This is so awesome and is perfect timing! My sis in law has just been relocated to Chicago and I am excited to take the kiddos to see some of these places when we go visit her! Thanks for sharing!

    • amandasimkin says

      My Dad used to take me there when I was a little girl…it is so fun to take my boys there now. The tradition continues!

  6. CourtneyLynne says

    Omg this place looks so neat!!! My daughter just loves trains due to Thomas and friends. She would totally love this place 🙂

    • amandasimkin says

      Some are touristy, yes, but most are places that we Chicagoans frequent since they are off the beaten path.

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