By Julia Drysdale
My toddler J has been obsessed with trains since before his first birthday. Luckily for him there are many kids train rides and museums in or around Guelph.
Here is a list of our favourite local train outings:
1. Riverside Park's miniature train ride for kids. This adorable little train is always a favourite activity for little ones in the summer.
Cost: Last year we bought the city of Guelph's train, merry-go-round and paddle boat pass; at only $20 plus taxes we saved a lot of money. We'll definitely be buying another pass for summer 2017. Individual tickets cost $2.54 each.
2017 hours: 10:30am to 6pm, weekends only, from May 20th to June 25th and then again from September 9th to October 9th, 2017; Daily from 10:30am to 6pm June 26th to September 4th, 2017.
2. To celebrate J's second birthday he and a friend went to the Halton County Radial Railway together. The HCRR is Ontario's first and biggest electric railway museum. It is located at 13629 Guelph Line, Milton. They rode on and admired many old trains and enjoyed ice cream inside of an train. The HCRR also has special events for their opening day, Mother's Day, Father's Day, Canada Day, Halloween, closing day, and Christmas.
Cost: Adults $15.00; Seniors(65+) $13.00; Youth(4-17)$10.00; 3 years & under and 90+ Free; Family Rate (five with no more than two adults) $45.00
2017 hours: Saturday, Sunday, and holidays from 10am to 5pm starting the first Saturday in May until the last Sunday in October; 10am to 4:30pm weekdays ONLY in July and August.
3. The Waterloo Central Railway will delight any train lovers. We went for a short train ride as a family last summer from the St. Jacob's Market into the village of St. Jacobs. If you want a longer ride then the train goes round-trip from St. Jacobs Market to Elmira. The trains on this tourist railway are from either 1923 or 1950. This train also offers special train rides for different holidays and for birthday parties.
Cost: please refer to their website. They offer many different packages.
2017 hours: The season runs from May 4th to October 28th on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays, leaving the market at 10am, 12pm and 2pm.
4. The St. Jacobs Model Train Panorama is fun. There is a big glassed in model train village and other train memorabilia. “See the charm of our rural past depicted in an HO scale model railway. Incredible miniature scenes including farming, a barn raising, an Old Order Mennonite Meetinghouse, St. Jacobs circa 1940s. A large collection of “O" scale trains and railroad memorabilia is also on display.” It is located in the basement of the St. Jacobs Mill.
2017 hours: Monday to Saturday 10am to 6pm; Sunday noon to 5:30pm
5. The second train museum in St. Jacobs is called the St. Jacobs and Aberfoyle Model Railway. This wonderful museum has a larger model train area complete with bridges, little towns and more. Periodically they dim the lights and the model train villages light up for a night scene.
Cost: Adults $8; Seniors/Students $7; Children $5; age 3 & under free.
2017 hours: Every Saturday (10am to 5pm) and Sunday (noon to 5pm) from May to December. Starting June 1st through August 31st open Thursdays noon to 5pm. Open for the first time on the 5 statutory holidays from 10am to 5pm (May 22nd, July 3rd, August 7th, September 4th, and October 9th).
6. Sometimes the Children's Art Factory will set up their giant train table. J loves playing there, but has an especially great time when the trains are put out. Each week the Children's Art changes one of their areas and the train table is one of those temporary rotating ones.
7. Whenever I'm shopping at Simply Wonderful, Chapters in Stone Road Mall or
Mastermind Toys Guelph you will be sure to see J playing with their display train
tables. The Guelph Public Library downtown branch also has a train table set up.
8. Downtown Guelph near the train station is Locomotive 6167. This steam locomotive was built in 1940 and is on permanent display.
9. Hamilton's African Lion Safari has a miniature train ride for children. It goes past a pond and a few animals. My son and godson enjoyed it so much last year that we rode it twice.
10. Kitchener's Chistkindl is an annual German Christmas market. Fred and Jenny's Garden-scale Model Train display was a hit with train enthusiasts if all ages. The trains display took up almost an entire room.
J also enjoys playing with trains at home. We've found that the wooden Thomas the Train, Imagarium, Melissa and Doug, and Ikea train tracks all fit together. For his second birthday J received both an Imagarium train table and the Thomas circular train tower. He already owned many track sets from Ikea and random bits from Simply Wonderful toy store.