Family time is fun time and no matter what your family’s interests, Connecticut has you covered. For the train lovers in your household, enjoy a visit to one of these places that will bring everyone together in a most memorable and entertaining way.
Connecticut Eastern Railroad Museum
55 Bridge St.
Willimantic, CT 06226
The Connecticut Eastern Railroad Museum is full of examples of the way things once were. Tour the grounds and see a roundhouse, working turntable, various buildings, classic engines, railway cars and so much more. Either already restored and rebuilt according to original specifications or a work in progress, there are some amazing sights to see for the train lover in your brood. The guided tour includes the chance to operate a replica hand car from the 1850s along a stretch of track that was originally a part of the New Haven Railroad.
Danbury Railway Museum
120 White St.
Danbury, CT 06813
A once bustling train station that faced an uncertain future, the Danbury Railway Museum has been transformed into a place that train lovers and history buffs can enjoy. Take a ride around the rail yard in an antique, see original trains and equipment and be sure to take time to check out the model train display including every kid’s favorite, Thomas. Events throughout the year make this a place to keep going back to. For a birthday to remember, plan your child’s next party at the museum.
The Railroad Museum of New England
242 East Main St.
Thomaston, CT 06787
Tucked away in an area not known to many is a stretch of railroad track once used for public transportation. The Railroad Museum of New England, operating as the Naugatuck Railroad, has taken over and offers rides on vintage trains along the Naugatuck River and over the Thomaston Dam. Kids will get their train fix while perhaps learning a bit about local history along the way. Featuring an impressive inventory of historic locomotives, freight cars, passenger cars and work equipment, many with local ties, this is sure to be a visit that leaves a lasting impression.
Essex Steam Train & Riverboat
One Railroad Ave.
Essex, CT 06426
For a fun-filled day and an adventure that will take you over land and out on the water, the Essex Steam Train and Riverboat offers a variety of excursions and events throughout the year. See the Connecticut River Valley from a different perspective while enjoying and learning about vintage trains. Themed presentations include those centered around holidays, a visit from Thomas and the upcoming circus event featuring performers and the opportunity to ride on an actual circus train. There is always something going on here that will appeal to everyone in the family.
Connecticut Trolley Museum
58 North Road
East Windsor, CT 06088
As important to local travel as the railroad was to longer trips, trolleys have a rich history that will appeal to young and old alike. The Connecticut Trolley Museum will take you back in time from horse-drawn days to the electric cars that eventually took over before buses became the preferred mode of public transportation. See lovingly restored trolley cars then take advantage of the unlimited three-mile trolley rides along the museum’s tracks which are included with admission. Check the calendar of events and plan your visit accordingly to make the day even more special.
Theodora DeBarbieri is an animal advocate, columnist and local TV show host residing in Connecticut. She is owned by a number of dogs, cats and birds. Her work can be found at Examiner.com.