The Playful Parent



All year long my oldest son asks how long until Christmas? You see, it’s not the presents under the Christmas tree he’s concerned about… It’s the train that goes around it! Last year we bought a G gauge Polar Express train for our Christmas tree. He would camp out in front of the tree and watch mesmerized for hours. From that moment on the obsession with toy trains was taken to a whole new level! After doing my research I knew I had to plan a train-cation to Strasburg and The National Toy Train Museum was at the top of the list!

Words can’t express seeing the pure joy of a child during the most wonderful time of the year! Visiting Strasburg added a touch of enchantment to this already magical season. I will never forget their reaction to visiting The National Toy Museum for the first time.  The excitement in my boy’s eyes and hearing them go absolutely crazy over the train layouts and holiday display was worth more than anything money can buy.

What’s great about The National Toy Train Museum is that they have exhibits that will fascinate kids of all ages, from 1 to 92! Even before you enter the museum you are greeted by the whistles of locomotives in the back ground. Their location is ideal since its right by a working railroad. As soon as we got out of the car my boys noticed the wooden train perfect for climbing on and taking pictures.

When you enter the building you are welcomed by a grand lobby that is modeled to look like a real old fashioned train station with a decorative life sized passenger car coming out of the wall. You will also find a gift shop with plenty of neat toys and a kids section with a wooden railroad train table. Trust me when I say you may spend a long time in this section if your kids love to play with wooden railroad.

Once you enter the exhibit rooms you are greeted with wall to wall displays of model trains and train memorabilia. When my boys walked in to the first room they bounced from wall to wall pointing and talking about everything they could see. For my two year old it was “tain…tain…tain…aboose…aboose!” (Translated: train…train…train…caboose…caboose!) None of us could hold back our excitement. They were also fascinated with the carpet that had life sized train tracks they could walk around on.

My little engineer’s favorite part about visiting the museum was having the opportunity to help operate five train layouts with a simple push of a button. Not only did we have fun but we learned all about the different gauges (layouts in G, Standard, O, S and HO Gauges) as each large layout is a different size and represents a different period from the 1900’s.

Christmas and toy trains truly do go together at the National Toy Train Museum! It put our family in the holiday spirits to see the museum decked out for Christmas; it made our visit especially memorable. I think my oldest sons favorite part about the holidays is that the museum plays Polar Express on the big screen. Also, don’t miss Santa; he is making special visits to the National Toy Train Museum from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on December 3rd, December 10th, and December 17th. Guests will be admitted FREE on those days with the donation of a non-perishable food item which will be donated to a local food bank.

The National Toy Train Museum

300 Paradise Lane

Ronks, PA 17572

717 687-8976

Hours: 10AM-5PM (Check schedule online)


  • Under age 6 Free
  • Children (6 to 12) $4
  • Adults (13 to 64) $7.00
  • Senior Citizen Discount (65+) $6.00

For more information on planning a Train-cation please read The Playful Parent Article:


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  2. Can we use your article on the National Toy Train Museum in the TCA’s publication “Train Collectors Quarterly”? If so, I can forward it to our editor and have him contact you if he needs another format.

    Bob Lubonski
    Education and Museum Committee Chairman
    Train Collectors Association

  3. Such a wonderful documentation, beautiful pictures. The National Toy Train Museum is truly a magical place, especially at Christmas time. Thank you for sharing. I’m so happy for your son’s interest in toy trains. I have a good feeling that his interest will strengthen as he grows. Model railroading is a great hobby and a wonderful tradition. Merry Christmas to you and you’re family.

  4. It was with great joy I read your Traincation blog. I smiled reading about the light in your children’s eyes and the excitement of wanting Christmas to get here so they could see the trains around the tree. I remember these well. Not only from my own children now in their mid 30’s to myself as a young child. Not wanting toys or Santa but just the trains. I find trains very relaxing and rewarding but mostly they are very mythical. They bring back our childhood but let us create a world where everything is OK. I always make sure that any layout I create has a MAIN feature that HAS to be on my layout. A Church. For without him we can not even be! What a joy to read about your blog and adventures to the Toy Train Museum, Strasburg, The Caboose Motel, Choo Choo Barn, B&O Museum and so much more. A few years ago we took our daughter, her husband and 3 girls for a weekend vacation or Traincation to this area. Since they now have a son who will be three this February we are doing it again. They will stay at the caboose motel, eat at the places you mentioned and visit the WONDERFUL train museum and other train attractions. Yes we will explain everything and let them enjoy the sights, sounds, smells and food. Most important is the memories that will be created and with their Pop Pop’s wish the LASTING interest in trains. The Toy Train Museum is one of the best. And Yes I am a member of that fantastic organization along with a member of the B&O. My prayer is that children and adults will learn how the railroad is a vital part of our history and future. That thru the efforts of these fine organizations they will want to carry it forward. But most of all that they know it is only thru our Father the Lord that we even have the ability to be her and march forward ALL YEAR LONG. God Bless you and your Family and

    Merry CHRISTmas

  5. Cool adventure, even if I’m late on this blog it feels new to me to see this cute little boy enjoying her adventure at Toy Train Museum. 🙂

  6. Great adventure with your kids! I really enjoyed reading your blog. 🙂

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