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Best Railroad Experiences Near Houston For Kids

June 28, 2013 7:00 AM

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"Junior Railroad: Model Trains in a Model Garden" exhibit in the Chicago Botanic Gardens, Chicago.

Houston was once the center meeting point for multiple railroads in the 19th century. That is why a railroad engine is on the city’s seal, but even today, there are ways to experience railroading for kids. Though rails are not as popular as they once were, you can still find great places to visit and activities that will bring this bygone era of rail travel to life.

Galveston Railroad Museum
2602 Santa Fe Place
Galveston, TX 77550
(409) 765-5700
www.galvestonrrmuseum.com

Houston’s railroading museum is closed for the remainder of 2013 as it seeks a relocation site, but you can still enjoy the museum experience with your kids after a short trip down to Galveston Island. The Galveston Railroad Museum has been a major destination since its opening in 1983. On Saturdays, you can ride the Harborside Express between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. for $4 per passenger, but even if you go on another day, you can still experience the museum’s main area, which costs $7 for adults and $6 for children. For that price, you and your kids can explore many different types of railroad cars from different time periods as well as enjoy the gallery and the exhibits that are there.

Related: Best Day Trips for Families Around Houston

Rosenberg Railroad Museum
1921 Ave. F
Rosenberg, TX 77471
(281) 633-2846
www.rosenbergrrmuseum.org

Rosenberg, just a few miles southwest of Houston on Highway 59, is a small town with a rich history in the railroad. You can go to the museum and visit Tower 17 that was used by the railroad to switch trains on the track. Inside, your kids can move the same mechanism that was used for almost 100 years by the railroad company. There are also rail cars to crawl into and around, including a bright red caboose and an 1879 rail car from Quebec, which may be one of the oldest rail cars in the state.

Hermann Park Railroad
6104 Hermann Park Drive
Houston, TX 77030
(713) 524-5876
www.hermannpark.org/railroad.php

Kids of all ages love riding the miniature train around Hermann Park. You can get individual passes for $3.25 for adults and children or pay $6.50 for an all-day pass, which is only available on the weekends. If your child wants a more interactive experience with the Hermann Park train, he or she can sign up for the four-hour Engineer for a Day program for $135 or to sit next to the train driver for $50 for an hour. Whether you just want to relax on the railroad as it winds its way around Houston’s main park or want a fun-filled train experience, you can get it for yourself and your child at the Hermann Park railroad.

Related: Best Spots to Spend a Summer Day With Your Family in Houston

Houston Area Live Steamers
17802 Roberts Road
Hockley, TX 77447
www.hals.org

If you find the Hermann Park train too large, you can ride even smaller trains. The Houston Area Live Steamers is a group of model train enthusiasts, but the train models they build are large enough for adults or children to ride. The group is made of volunteers who maintain the miniature train around Zube Park in Hockley, Texas, just a few miles northwest of Houston. Every third Saturday of the month between March and November, the group opens the grounds and allows the public to ride for free on the miniature trains. The hours are usually between 9 a.m. and 1 p.m., but some days, the train rides may last until 3 p.m. Check the schedule online before visiting, and know that the trains will not run in the rain.

Minute Maid Park Tours
501 Crawford St., Suite 400
Houston, TX 77002
(713) 259-8687
www.houston.astros.mlb.com/hou/ballpark/tours/index.jsp

Most attendees to Astros’ games do not realize that the ballpark is built next to what was once Houston’s Union Station. The station still stands as the main entry to the ballpark, and you and your kids can learn more about the ballpark and the historic station on a tour. There are a variety of tour packages available, but most of them do cover information about the historic Union Station. For families or small groups, the best options are the walk-up tours or the early bird tours. The difference between these hour-long tours is that the early bird tour happens one hour before the gates open on game days and you must have a game ticket to attend the tour. The walk-up tours’ afternoon tours are not available when there is a day game scheduled at Minute Maid Park.

Crystal Hessong ia a freelance writer and a lifelong, fourth generation Houstonian. Her work can be found at Examiner.com.

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