All Aboard! Choo Choo! What kid doesn’t like trains? If your child is a Thomas aficionado.. or if you would just like to tickle their imagination, check out the B&O Railroad Museum. It is one of the fantastic fun things to do with kids in Baltimore. Sweet Pea loves to see the trains. Read on to find out why this little museum is great for a few hours of family field trip fun!
Related: Check out the Kid Friendly Maryland comprehensive resource for parents: Things To Do In Maryland With Kids!
Fun Things to Do With Kids in Baltimore: B&O Railroad Museum
The B&O Railroad Museum in Baltimore seems like it should be a small museum, but it is both deceptively large and jammed packed with fun kid experiences. You could easily spend 3 to 4 hours here.
The most obvious draw is all the historic trains, which are housed in a huge rotunda train house. This building is absolutely gorgeous in its own right, and you will find yourself craning your neck to take in the architecture as a backdrop to some really cool train cars.
Many of the train engines and cars are on static display for viewing only. However, there are a few open train cars that form the basis of a living history exhibit. Visitors can sit in the conductor’s cabin, check out the engine, and ‘ride’ in a stock car.
The B&O Railroad Museum train roster includes some of the oldest model train cars, and a few historically significant exhibits– such as the train that carried Abraham Lincoln’s body to his final resting place.
Family Friendly Activities for Young Children
One of the major draws of this museum as a family friendly attraction though is that it really caters to families with small children. Throughout the rotunda, there are educational, hands-on exhibits that teach children about the Pony Express, what it would have been like to work on the railroad during Civil War times, etc…
Choo Choo Blue
The museum has a mascot too! Choo Choo Blue is a young steam engine, who is on hand to greet the youngest museum visitors and get them excited about trains and railroads. In fact, Choo Choo Blue has carved out a great Kids Zone.
The Kids Zone is a big toddler and preschooler friendly play area devoted to all things train. Kids can dress up as a conductor or railroad worker, build with legos, play with play trains on a huge train table, read books about trains, color train-related coloring pages, and various other activities. Sweet Pea was fascinated with the Thomas the Train play trains and spent a good half an hour trying to figure out how to connect railroad tracks in order to make Thomas go!
Outside the main train rotunda, there is a huge model train running (weather dependent), a small train-themed play structure, and Choo Choo Blueville– a kiddie train ride through a fictionalized town.
Additionally, there is a super cute train-themed carousel. The carousel is such a big hit with young visitors that it resides outside during warm weather months, but moves inside for the winter– so kids can ride it year round.
Of course, no visit to the train museum would be complete without an actual train ride! The B&O Railroad Museum offers 20 minute round trip train rides on the first commercial mile of railroad track laid in the United States. Sweet Pea loved this, even though the first mile of railroad track now takes you through a fairly seedy area of Baltimore.
The B&O Railroad Museum thrives on its impressive set of special event days. Of course, the big event of the year is when Thomas the Train makes his annual stop in Baltimore. The B&O Railroad Museum accommodates his presence with a bunch of extra fun activities for visitors such as bounce houses, crafts, a petting farm, and live music. Kids get to actually ride on Thomas the Train– and tickets sell out fast at this time.
Other special annual events include a special Chuggington Adventure Weekend (this is the first year Chuggington will come to Baltimore), a summer reading program, patriotic train rides in July, steam train ride events including a ‘Wizards and Witches’ Day, and of course a full complement of holiday themed events including train rides with Frosty the Snowman and Santa Claus.
Tips and Ways to Avoid Meltdowns and Irritation
Ok, that sounds kind of ominous, doesn’t it? Well, for the most part, the B&O Railroad Museum is absolutely lovely. However, I am not going to sugar coat this— it is an absolute zoo (and not in a good way) during Thomas the Train Days. We have been to this museum a number of times and have had a blast. I would not necessarily include Thomas the Train Day as one of those days though. Sure, it is cool to ride Thomas– especially if you have a huge fan in your house. However, everything is super busy and overrun– there is a huge line for the carousel, the kiddie train, and the Kid Zone is overrun with young children getting way too many back-to-back’ lessons’ in how to share with others. At other times, the B&O Railroad Museum is laid back, pleasant, and fun. Thomas the Train days are stimulation overload. Here are some specific hints and tips for how to deal:
- Guess what? Except for the engine being Thomas, the train is exactly the same train your kids will ride at other times of the year. The train itself isn’t different. As a matter of fact, the Thomas train is the same train ride as Frosty and Santa, princess train ride, rocket train ride, etc… Keep this in mind when you are deciding whether or not to join the masses. Personally, I would urge you to consider a different weekend to visit.
- That being said, Thomas is Thomas, right? If you must visit during this busiest of times, I would try to either:
- Visit on the Friday Thomas the Train day… you know, when school is in session.
- Arrive at the B&O Railroad Museum when it opens and plan to leave no later than noon.
Know Before You Go
- There is on site parking and it is relatively close to the entrance.. except during Thomas the Train Days.
- The museum is very stroller friendly and wheelchair accessible. Strollers are not permitted on the rides, but there is a convenient stroller park next to the platform.
- Admission is $18 adult; $12 child (2-12), and $16 senior.
- Hours of operation are Monday-Saturday, 10AM-4PM; Sunday 11AM-4PM.
- Train rides do not operate all the time. Check the museum website for specific train schedules.
- Thomas the Train Days are typically at the end of April through the beginning of May for 2 weeks. Tickets go on sale for non-members in February and members in January. Space on the train is limited, so buy your tickets early.
- There is a small scale food service menu and outside food is not permitted in the museum. You may want to plan to eat elsewhere before or after your visit.
Overall, Sweet Pea loves the B&O Railroad Museum in Baltimore. It is really a fascinating historical place to visit and definitely one of the top Fun Things to Do With Kids in Baltimore.
Have you visited the B&O Railroad Museum? What did you think? What about fun things to do with kids in Baltimore? Is there a hidden gem you have visited? We are always looking for new, great ideas for family fun on the weekend. I would love to hear yours!
Thanks for reading!
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