Passionate About the Washington DC area
and the Moms Who Live Here

Trains to See, Trains to Ride: The Ultimate Guide to Trains in the Washington, DC Area

All aboard!  Very few things excite both my son and daughter quite like a train.  And, the DC area has no shortage of full scale and miniature trains for kids to explore. 

This guide includes three categories of train attractions.  The first is Trains to See, there are plenty of model trains and museums with actual or model trains for your littles to look at and explore.  There are also a number of Trains to Ride.  From vintage trains and streetcars to miniature trains at parks, there are a number of trains you can climb aboard.  And, of course, there is Public Transportation.  You may be over the blue or red line commute, but DC’s public transportation can be an adventure.

Trains to See: Model Trains and Museums

National Postal Museum Washington, DC
Why ride on a train when you could sort mail in a train car?  This hidden gem with a train car, airplane, and a big rig cabin is a toddler’s paradise.  (The Postal Museum is also a spot on our Toddler-Friendly Summer Scavenger Hunt!) Open 7 days a week.  Free.  

National Museum of American History Washington, DC
Walk along locomotives and freight trains in the Hall of Transportation.  There are no trains to ride, but you can walk into an old railcar.  Open 7 days a week.  Free.

Train at Smithsonian Museum

The Hall of Transportation at the Smithsonian American History Museum captivated this future train engineer.

Fairfax Station Museum Fairfax Station, VA
Hop aboard a rail car and learn about the station’s history in the Civil War.  Open most Sunday afternoons from 1 – 4 pm.  Special events throughout the year.  Adults $4, Kids 5-15 $2, Under 4 Free.

B&O Ellicott City Station Museum Ellicott City, MD
The oldest surviving railroad station in America, the museum has a caboose and model trains.  The Ellicott City Stations Museum’s Facebook page has details on upcoming events throughout the year.  Open Wednesday to Friday (10 am – 2 pm); Saturday (10 am – 5 pm); Sunday (Noon – 5 pm).  Free.

Brunswick Heritage (Railroad) Museum Brunswick, MD
The third floor has a 1,700 square foot model railway showing the track from Brunswick to Union Station in DC.  Open Thursday and Friday (10 am – 2 pm), Saturday (10 am – 4 pm), and Sunday (1 pm – 4 pm).  Free.

Roads and Rails Museum Frederick, MD
Have a kiddo into model trains?  This museum has one of the largest miniature model train displays in the country.  Open Monday, Friday, Saturday (10 am – 5 pm) and Sunday (12 pm – 5 pm).  Adults $10, Children $5, Under 3 Free.

Trains to Ride:  Vintage Trains, Streetcars, and Miniature Trains

B&O Railroad Museum Baltimore, MD
A true gem.  Offers 20 minute train rides on the first miles of commercial track in the country, a train carousel, and a “Happy Train” carnival ride.  Check the schedule — the train ride schedule is limited and subject to change.  Open Monday to Saturday (10 am – 4 pm) and Sunday (11 am – 4pm).  Adults $20, Children 2-12 $12, Under 2 free.  B&O Railroad Museum also home to Day Out With Thomas.

B&O Railroad Day Out with Thomas Twins in Awe

These mini conductors were in complete awe of Thomas at B&O Railroad Museum.

Wheaton Regional Park Miniature Train Silver Spring, MD
Take a ride through the woods on the miniature train, then ride on the carousel.  Hours of operation vary by season.  May 18 – Labor Day (Open Tuesday – Sunday); September (Friday – Sunday only); October (Saturdays and Sundays only, ending October 27, 2019.  Halloween Eye Spy Train, $5 tickets.); Closed November – February.  Train tickets $2.50, kids under 2 free. 

Watkins Regional Park Upper Marlboro, MD
Go to Watkins for the miniature train ride, but stay for the magical Wizard of Oz themed playground, miniature golf, and an agricultural farm.  Hours vary.  Open 7 days a week Memorial Day – Labor Day; open weekends in September.  PG County residents $2, others $2.50.

Cabin John Regional Park Rockville, MD
In addition to the 15 minute miniature train ride, Cabin John has trails, a nature center, and an ice rink. Hours of operation vary by season.  April – May (Saturday and Sunday only); June – August (Tuesday – Sunday only); September (Friday – Sunday only); October (Saturday and Sunday only, until October 27th. Halloween Eye Spy Train, $6 tickets); and closed November – March.  Train tickets $2.50, kids under 2 free.

Walkersville Southern Railroad Walkersville, MD
Passenger train rides are available, but check the schedule.  Walkersville hosts specialty train rides throughout the year, including Bunny Trains, Super Hero Picnic, Teddy Bear Picnic, and Santa Trains.  Advanced tickets are required.  Adults $12, Kids (3-12) $10, and kids under 2 are free if they are riding on a lap.  Different pricing for events.  Charters available.

Burke Lake Park Fairfax Station, VA
The miniature train takes a 10 minute ride around parts of the lake, including through a short tunnel.  There is a carousel, playground, and ice cream parlor next to the train station.  Hours of operation vary by season.  Memorial Day to Labor Day (Open Daily, 11:15 am – 5:45 pm); April and May (Saturday and Sunday, 11:15 am – 5:45 pm).  Tickets $3 weekdays; $4 weekends and holidays.

Family on Burke Lake Park Miniature Train

The whole family can chug along the tracks on the Burke Lake Miniature Train. Choo, Choo!!

Clemyjontri Park McLean, VA
You can take a ride around the colorful Clemyjontri Park on a new trackless train.  Open weekends Memorial Day to Labor Day (9:30 am – 4pm) with special holiday hours for Memorial Day, Independence Day, Labor Day, and Columbus Day.  Tickets are $3. 

National Capital Trolley Museum Colesville, MD
Go for a vintage trolley ride through the forest.  (The Capital Trolley Museum is another spot on our Toddler-Friendly Summer Scavenger Hunt!)  Be sure to check out special events like summer story times, Pumpkin TrolleyFest (October 19, 20, 26, 27), and Holly TrolleyFest (December 7, 8, 14, 15, 21, 22, 29, 30).  Open Saturdays and Sundays (Noon to 5 pm) year-round; Thursdays and Fridays (10 am to 2 pm) from March 15 to May 15; June 15 to August 15; October 1 to November 15.  Adults $10, Children and Seniors $8, Under 2 Free.

Public Transportation

Metro (DC, MD, VA)
Use the WMATA Trip Planner to integrate a metro ride into another fun adventure.

H Street Streetcar (DC)
My kids yell “Choo!  Choo!” every time they see the H St. Streetcar.  Hop aboard while it is still free!

King Street Trolley (Alexandria, VA)
The free “trolley” shuttles passengers down King Street, between the King Street Metro Station and Union Street, stopping every two blocks.  The trolley runs every 10-15 minutes Sunday to Wednesday (11 am – 10:30 pm), Thursday to Saturday (10:30 am – 12 am).  Enhanced hours May 25 – September 8, 2019.  Free.

Amtrak (DC, MD, VA)
The world is your oyster!  A train trip to Harper’s Ferry on our Short Summer Vacation Road (or Train) Trip Ideas list.

Did we miss anything?  Please let us know and comment below if there are other DC train destinations we should add.

, , , , , , , , , ,

3 Responses to Trains to See, Trains to Ride: The Ultimate Guide to Trains in the Washington, DC Area

  1. Avatar
    Ruth Mundell August 12, 2019 at 7:57 pm #

    You forgot Bladensburg – shopping and trains! First, you go to Community Forklift so one adult can happily putter around the nonprofit’s salvage yard/antique shop while spouse or a friend runs around the parking field with the kiddos. Trains come by 40 times a day, so you’re guaranteed to see at least one while you’re there. May want to bring ear plugs though, the train whistle is pretty loud.

    Then you head a few minutes over to Bladensburg Waterfront Park, where there is an old caboose parked that kids can crawl all over (That’s also within sight of the train tracks, but a little further away from them, so not quite as entrancing as the view from the Forklift)

    • Avatar
      Courtney Whittington August 26, 2019 at 11:35 pm #

      Thanks!

    • Avatar
      Angelle Smith Baugh August 26, 2019 at 11:42 pm #

      Such a great idea, Ruth — thanks for sharing. Definitely want to check out Community Forklift!