All aboard the North Texas Express for some trains-themed activities your kids will love!

When I first became a parent, I had a lot to learn about raising kids. One thing was very familiar to me already, however — little girl stuff. Ruffles, hair bows, baby dolls, and anything pink. My daughters were as girly as they come and I enjoyed every second of it. 

Fast forward a few years, I was blessed with a little boy. This time, however, I was less familiar with the interests of his world: dinosaurs, balls, and literally all forms of transportation — in particular, trains.

It was during this season of parenthood that I watched a lot of Thomas the Train movies, and discovered where to find some terrific train experiences in the area. I also learned that grown-up model train enthusiasts were as loco for locomotives as my son. With this in mind, check out this local round-up of train-themed destinations and experiences for all ages and stages. All aboard!

Museum of the American Railroad

8004 N. Dallas Pkwy
Frisco, TX 75034

Founded in 1962, the Museum of the American Railroad closed its location in Dallas’ Fair Park several years ago to relocate its collections and operations to Frisco. Outdoor, guided walking tours are available offering a close-up view of many engines and passenger cars. Some have been restored, while others show their age.

The walkways are gravel, so comfortable shoes are a good idea. You can purchase your walking tour tickets online or at the offices of the Frisco Heritage Museum.

TrainTopia Model Train Exhibit

8004 N. Dallas Pkwy
Frisco, TX 75034

Be immersed in a miniature world of trains! The 2,500 square foot TrainTopia exhibit at Frisco Discovery Center features topography from Arizona to Texas, New Mexico, and Northeast Texas in the 1960s. Soaring Rocky Mountains, logging camps, and once popular tourist spots and curio shops are carefully crafted in miniature.

Among TrainTopia’s many features are an animated downtown Dallas street scene and the famed Palo Duro drive-in theater with a real movie playing. This fun, self-guided experience is suitable for all ages. Reserve a timeslot and purchase your TrainTopia tickets in advance. 

The Interurban Railway Museum

901 E. 15th St., Plano

The Interurban Railway Museum is a free history museum featuring interactive exhibits on electricity, science, and the history of the City of Plano and the Texas Electric Railway. They even have a renovated historic rail car you can go inside. Click here for more information and opening times.

Grapevine Vintage Railroad

636 S.Main Street
Grapevine, Texas 76051

Jump on SH-121 and head west to discover the Grapevine Vintage Railway. Climb aboard an authentic 1920’s Victorian coach for a train ride that travels from Grapevine to the Fort Worth Stockyards all year long! It’s so authentic, you’ll swear that a train heist is going to go down at any moment. Don’t miss their special themed rides, like the North Pole Express or the Easter Bunny Train.

For adults 21+, try the Jazz Wine Train or the Kiss Me I’m Irish Express. The Cotton Belt Depot is always busy with something fun; it’s an experience worth the short drive west.

Trains at Northpark

8687 N Central Expressway
Dallas, TX 75225

For the past 34 years, The Trains at NorthPark has delighted generations of local families as one of the area’s premier holiday traditions in Dallas. The seasonal display is available from mid-November through early January and benefits Ronald McDonald House of Dallas.

Visitors of all ages will be enamored by the 1600 feet of track that take you on a whimsical rail journey across America! The Trains travel from the autumn foliage of New England to San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge with stops along the way to see New York City, Washington DC, Dallas, and the desert Southwest including the Grand Canyon and the Garden of the Gods. More than 70,000 visitors are entertained each season, so don’t delay in purchasing your tickets

The Forest Park Miniature Railroad. Trains and other delights await! | Courtesy of Forest Park Miniature Railroad

Forest Park Miniature Railroad

1700 Colonial Parkway
Ft. Worth, TX  76110

The Forest Park Miniature Railway dates back to the 1950s and offers riders a peaceful retreat around Ft. Worth’s Trinity Park. From the depot, the train heads east and then cuts north to cross the Trinity River on one of the trains longest trestle bridges. The complete 5 mile circuit features two depots, six bridges, and a lot of scenery. It’s an affordable little adventure the kids are sure to remember forever. Note: The train is cash-only

DART Rail

Next time you’re headed to Big D for an adventure, hitch a ride on the DART Rail. This train may not have the same railroad vibes as the “choo choo” variety, but kids love its speed! DART’s light rail is a great way to travel to Klyde Warren Park, the Dallas Zoo, or the Dallas Museum of Art. The train is affordable and will drop you right at your destination. It gets a little crowded near the major commuter stops, but is otherwise pretty open.

If you’re riding with kids, consider beginning your journey at the Downtown Plano Station. It makes for a nice, long ride – plus, there’s a playground at that stop!

Headed to Ft. Worth? The DART Rail can connect you to the Trinity Railway Express, which runs from Dallas to Ft Worth and hits a lot of fun points in between. Consider buying a Regional Day Pass, which allows you to ride all day. You’ll discover lots of great restaurants, shops, and other fun attractions along the way!

Party Rental

How about renting a train for your child’s birthday party? These trackless trains are a big hit with the littlest’s birthday party crowd and a surprise departure from the typical bounce house. Try Clown Around Party Rental, BounceNMore or B3Talent.

Nicole Barron

Nicole Barron is a proud native of North Texas. An extroverted-introvert, about ten years ago she traded her heels for flip-flops to raise three children who have fully convinced her that ketchup is a...