by Julie S
Do you have a little one who loves Thomas the Train and could spend all day building a train track that circles your house? Well, we have some ideas for you! We’ve compiled a list of fun train rides, train-themed restaurants, and other places for kids to see and interact with trains, both in the Kalamazoo area, and farther out.
TAKE A RIDE – NEAR OR FAR!
Take a ride on one of the many trains that Michigan has to offer – big to miniature, nearby to farther away and perfect for a vacation!
7400 Division Dr, Battle Creek, MI
Everyone’s favorite local zoo offers a miniature train ride on a loop that goes through a fun tunnel and along the creek. The ride is not included with general admission and has a small additional fee.
18935 15 1/2 Mile Road, Marshall, MI
Members of the Mid-Michigan Railroad Club operate a 1/8 scale 7 ½” gauge railroad for free (though donations are greatly appreciated). The journey begins at the Hawkins Junction Station and gently winds over and under Bridges and Trestles through the Tunnel and woods in a scenic park like setting and returns to the Station. Visitors to the Railroad will see many different types and styles of Engines including Live Steam, Diesel and Electric. Many of the engines and cars have been hand fabricated by their owners, or purchased from various vendors. There is currently 5,240 feet of track installed with more being added, as future plans and expansion become reality. Check their website to find out what days the train is running.
311 E. Danforth Street, PO Box 55, Coopersville, MI
From April thru December, the Coopersville Marne Train offers several themed events such as the Bunny Train, the Famous Pumpkin Train, and the Santa Train. They also have a reduced fare EnterTRAINment excursions which last 90 minutes and go through family-owned farms and fields while their Singing Trainman is in your coach, playing railroad and acoustic songs. See their website for a schedule of everything they have to offer.
29 W Park Ave, Coldwater, MI
This railroad is operated by volunteers, dedicated to the restoration and operation of historic railroad equipment. During the summer a Lazy Days of Summer ride on Sunday afternoons, and during October they offer a Fall Color Run on Sunday afternoons where you can get your Halloween pumpkins too.
405 S Washington Street, Owosso, MI
Although the Steam Railroading Institute offers several train rides (check their website for a schedule and details), one of the most unique is the North Pole Express out of Owosso. This locomotive is famous for its role in the movie “The Polar Express”, whose train was modeled after it. Passengers take a one hour train ride and have two hours to explore the Village of Ashley’s Country Christmas in Ashley, Michigan. Included with the train ride is admission to rides, art/crafts, entertainment, a petting zoo, reindeer and Santa. Tickets go fast, and these rides are weekends only from November 19 – December 17 in 2017.
6140 Bray Road, Flint, MI
A 40-minute railroad ride along the shores of Mott Lake, down a stretch of the historic Pere Marquette roadbed and back into historic Crossroads Village. They offer a summer, Halloween and Christmas train ride. There are 11 original and replica wooden coaches and a classic red wooden caboose. It was named because it went so slow one could jump off, pick huckleberries, and jump back on! Open in the summer Wednesday thru Sunday, for Halloween on weekday evenings and weekend afternoons and for Christmas weekend evenings. Check their website for an updated schedule. They also offer combo tickets with a ferry.
20900 Oakwood Blvd, Dearborn, MI
Historic Greenfield Village offers the Weiser Railroad Ride which passes through the village and give riders a tour of the town. The entire route is three miles with opportunities to get on and off. Additional ticket required. The train runs from mid-April thru the end of October.
8450 W 10 Mile Road, Royal Oak, MI
The Detroit Zoo offers a miniature railroad ride from one side of the zoo to the other. The coaches were refurbished in 2008 offering a nice comfy ride! A ride is not included with general admission and has a small fee.
23701 Henry B Joy Blvd, Clinton Township, MI
Offers inexpensive summer, fall and holiday train rides that are 30-45 minutes on Sunday afternoons. Tickets need to be purchased in the caboose the day of the train ride. They have a museum nearby in Mount Clemens which features a history of the area’s railroads.
230 Abe Road, Fairview, MI
Families can take a ride through the Huron National Forest, complete with a long tunnel and over beautiful wooden trestles on this train, which ¼ the size of a passenger train. You can purchase tickets at the depot along with hot popcorn and souvenirs. The ride is 18 minutes long and during the summer is open on weekends only from 10:00am-5:00pm. They also offer a fall color tour during the first two weekends of October.
7195 County Road 381, Soo Junction, MI
Take a ride on the Toonerville Trolley if you are vacationing in the Upper Peninsula. It’s the longest narrow-gauge railroad in the country and goes through about five and a half miles of thick forest. You can do the train ride on its own or choose to do a 21-mile riverboat ride at your train ride’s destination.
SEE SOME TRAIN EXHIBITS AT A MUSEUM, NEAR AND FAR
Many of the train rides above offer a small museum or paraphernalia related to trains, however, these three are some additional choices for a train lover!
200 Washington Avenue, Grand Haven, MI
This museum is operated in the restored 1870s railroad depot in Grand Haven and has some historical trains such as the Pere Marquette. It is open on Fridays-Sundays during the summer, and only available through group tours during the winter.
200 Grand Trunk Western Railroad, Durand, MI
This museum is located within the town’s restored union station built by the Ann Arbor and GTW (it also currently acts as an Amtrak stop). The building houses a number of displays and also hosts several events throughout the year.
5700 S Lake Shore Drive, Chicago, IL
If you have a child interested in model trains, the Museum of Science + Industry in Chicago offers “The Great Train Story” exhibit which has over 1,400 feet of winding track with scenery from Seattle to Chicago.
OTHER FUN WAYS TO GET A TRAIN FIX!
6225 D Ave W, Kalamazoo, MI
This restaurant offers a dining room on a retired Denver Rio Grande railroad car. Closed Mondays.
2190 East Beltline Ave NE, Grand Rapids, MI
Model trains overhead, train stickers, and delicious specialty sodas – a perfect place for lunch or dinner when in Grand Rapids.
6300 Alden Nash SE, Alto, MI
Established in 2000, this ice cream shop serves ice cream and other fun items from a red caboose!
885 Starkweather St, Plymouth, MI
This restaurant is on the site of the Chesapeake freight house, constructed in the early 1900s. Lots of train themed décor inside, and if you’re lucky, while visiting, you may see a train pass by right outside the window.
641 Conger St, South Haven, MI
Step back in time and stay the night on a refurbished caboose from the 1920s. There’s also an in-ground pool, covered porches, and it’s only steps from the South Haven beaches.
1000 East Beltline Ave NE, Grand Rapids, MI
Every Christmas, during their Christmas and Holiday Traditions Around the World event, the Fred Meijer Gardens has a Railway Garden, complete with model trains that weave around holiday-themed horticulture and 30 iconic Grand Rapids miniature landmarks.
Do you have any train rides, or train-themed places you’d like us to add? Please let us know!