To coincide with my post about the Choo Choo Barn, I thought I’d just talk about the National Toy Train Museum at the same time. Both are located in Strasburg, PA, which is just a short drive from Lancaster and is filled to the brim with train-related goodies.
The two museums share a common enthusiasm (they’re both lovingly devoted to the world of model railroading), but they have different missions. Whereas the Choo Choo Barn is a presentation of what model railroading looks like, the National Toy Train Museum is dedicated to sharing how the hobby was born, presenting the history of its growth, and reveling in the obvious joy its curators take from this pastime.
Bonus: they’re only about a mile apart, so there’s really no reason not to visit both of them.
The building itself is designed to look and feel like an old-time train station. Walk through the entrance, and you’re instantly transported to a world dominated by all things train. If you have even a passing interest in trains (or have a kid who does), you’ll be all smiles the entire time.
The museum boasts one of the largest collections of toy and model trains in the world. On display are models from 1840 to the present (and yes, Thomas is represented).
There’s wall after wall of toy trains, which can feel a little overwhelming at first. However, make one turn into the main exhibit hall, and you’re suddenly surrounded by model train magic.
There are five operating, interactive train layouts—all with fully functioning trains and accessories, many of which kids can activate by simply pressing a button. The 3yo Roarbot could’ve spent all day exploring the exhibits. Every time he turned around, he pointed out something new.
Each of the layouts represents a different gauge: G, Standard, O, S, and HO. This basically means the trains are all different sizes–from the “I could have one of these in my house!” all the way to “Who in the world has the space for this?”
If you’re at all interested in model railroading or toy trains, if you had a layout when you were a kid, or if your kids are obsessed with Thomas the Tank Engine or Chuggington, you won’t want to miss this place.
The National Toy Train Museum definitely gets the Roarbots seal of approval. Highly recommended!
Come here for the history and variety of displays, and then head on over to the Choo Choo Barn for the spectacle.
Admission costs $7 for adults, $4 for kids age 6-12, and nothing for kids under 6! Check their website for hours.