This guide to taking kids to the train festival at the history museum has been updated for 2017!
If you have a fan of Thomas, or trains in general, this is a must-do, and the museum is always a fun visit on a rainy day, and a great plan if you have winter break days to fill.
The boys and I have done this several times, and there are a few things to know:
- It gets very crowded at this event. Try to go on a weekday if you can.
- There are tons of things for kids to look at, including elaborate model train exhibits on every floor.
- There are also plenty of things for kids can touch, although there are also a few they should not; basically, you’ll find lots they can do, you just can’t set ’em loose like you would at a children’s museum.
- There is an activity area with Legos and other fun.
Update from SFM-This is a review of the 2015 exhibit. It’s much the same this year.
Reader Laura went and sent in the middle two pictures. She said her boys had a great time. She also pointed out that the pricing makes this outing a good deal if you have little ones because kids 5 and under are Free, and she felt like there was plenty to touch in the other areas of the museum (which are excellent).
“And parking was not bad either. We found tons of other stuff to see such as trappers and Native American displays, railroad workers, etc, they even showed which way Columbus sailed on the globe with light routes. My kids are rowdy and I managed 2.5 hours there, but with better behaved toddlers, I can imagine 3-4 is just right. Did I mentioned all I paid is $12 for me?* So no touching of trains is allowed, but tons of other stuff you can touch in the museum that makes up for it, even a mini scape of Tacoma in 1905.” *See below for 2017 pricing.
- There are typically several cute train safety freebies for kids near the first exhibits shortly after you enter. Make sure to get the little baggie, or bring something you can carry them in.
- You’ll have to pay to park in the lot next to the museum. You could also park at the transit center across from Freighthouse Square and take the trolley/tram to the stop right by it.
- Don’t have a Santa photo yet? You can get one free (they will be instantly emailed to you) on Friday or Saturday.
Hours and Pricing:
Friday, December 22, 10 AM to 5 PM (Santa available for free photos 11 AM – 3 PM)
Saturday, December 23, 10 AM to 5 PM (Santa available for free photos 11 AM – 3 PM, and Teen Tix cardholders get $5 admission.)
Tuesday, December 26, through Monday, January 1, 10 AM to 5 PM (including January 1, New Years Day)
Closed: Sunday, Dec. 24, and Monday, Dec. 25
Coupons and discounts (Chinook Book, AAA, etc.) do not apply during Model Train Festival.
You Might be able to go for free if you can score a pass from your library, but this is the one time a year when they are hard to come by.
Otherwise, admission is as follows:
- Adults (Age 18 and over) $14
- Seniors (Age 65 and over) $11
- Students (Ages 6-17 years) $11
- Active and former military personnel (with ID or proof of service) $11
- Children (age 5 and under) FREE
- Family (up to 2 adults and 4 children under age 18) $40
- Washington Quest EBT Card Discount (must show card) is $1/person and $2/family
- Historical Society Members-FREE
Photo credits: The middle two photos were submitted by a reader and not to be used without permission.
Other photo credits as follows top and bottom
A future engineer peers into one of the detailed model train layouts. Photo courtesy WSHS.
Don’t miss our North Pole celebrity visitor! Free photos with Santa on December 22 and 23, 11:00 AM-3:00 PM. Photo courtesy WSHS