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Best Railroad Experiences Near Detroit For Kids

June 28, 2013 8:00 AM

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All aboard for the ultimate in family fun — an authentic train ride that provides a memorable experience for everyone. Sit back and enjoy the scenery as the train winds past the countryside, over a river or through a sleepy village. Kids love the booming whistle and the billowing smoke as it puffs into the sky. Additional activities and attractions will fill the day with excitement including carousels, riverboats and artifacts on display, while some railroads feature museums on the premises.

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(credit: istockphoto)

Steam Railroading Institute
405 S. Washington St.
Owosso, MI 48867
(989) 725-9464
www.michigansteamtrain.com

Catch a glimpse of the history of the regional railroad industry at the Steam Railroading Institute. Both a museum and a railroad, families and enthusiasts can take a ride on a locomotive and discover the museum’s treasures. Steam and diesel train excursions are available during every season — from summer rides to popular festivals to the ultimate winter destination for kids, Santa’s home turf. The North Pole Express gears up each holiday, taking visitors on a memorable journey. Engine 1225, the original “Polar Express,” resides here and is currently undergoing an extensive restoration. A miniature train runs on the grounds and model trains are on display for the kids to control. Don’t forget to stop by the visitor center to learn interesting historical facts.

Huckleberry Railroad
Crossroads Village
6140 North Bray Road
Flint, MI 48505
(810) 736-7100
www.geneseecountyparks.org

Travel through time on the Huckleberry Railroad. This train ride chugs around scenic landscapes and through an historical town at the edge of Mott Lake. Themed excursions are offered during various holidays and include Easter, Halloween and Christmas rides. A “Day Out With Thomas” event is held on select dates. Make a stop at Crossroads Village, a turn-of-the-century community. Featuring over 30 buildings from the 1800s to explore, and filled with townspeople depicting daily life in their village, this bustling town has a carousel, parades and Genesee Belle, a paddlewheel riverboat that glides on the water.

Related: Best Kid-Friendly Haunted Houses Near Detroit

Southern Michigan Railroad
320 Division St.
Clinton, MI 49236
(517) 456-7677
www.southernmichiganrailroad.com

Ride the rails this summer and fall on the Southern Michigan Railroad. Pass over rivers, through the natural settings of the country, ending at the train depot, then back again. Ride to the South Pole during the winter holiday season, or take in the glorious fall colors during one of the rides featuring changing autumn foliage and fall festivals. Specialty excursions include a dinner ride to historical Tecumseh, where patrons choose from an array of restaurants in town, or a parade ride, offered during the select holidays. Trains, Trucks & More! is held on site, giving children the chance to imagine they are driving the vehicles and machines themselves.

Weiser Railroad
Greenfield Village
20900 Oakwood Blvd.
Dearborn, MI 48124
(313) 271-1621
www.thehenryford.org

All aboard for a real life journey on the Weiser Railroad. Tour historical Greenfield Village on one of the restored steam-powered or diesel locomotives and prepare to be transported back in time to an era of omnibuses pulled by horses and Model Ts as they barrel down the street. Travel past a windmill, the Rouge River and the roundhouse, and catch a glimpse of the sheep in the orchard or the horses as they plow the fields. Sometimes the conductor will choose a lucky participant to help him give the signal for the train to leave the station. Other family fun awaits — hop on a frog or a cat on the 1913 carousel or discover a “Day Out With Thomas,” held on select dates. Explore The Henry Ford museum for more collections of massive trains; kids won’t believe their eyes.

Tauber Family Railroad
Detroit Zoo
8450 W. 10 Mile Road
Royal Oak, MI 48067
(248) 541-5717
www.detroitzoo.org

A great train ride for even the littlest of conductors, this miniature train travels around the expanse of the zoo, passing by animals as they graze and frolic in their habitats. Meander through the grounds on one of three locomotives which contain six coach cars, providing a short excursion that will bring a smile to the faces of young and old alike. Children will also love the carousel, playground areas and, of course, the zoo. The Detroit Zoo showcases almost 7,000 animals and a variety of attractions such as the polar bear exhibition, the aviary, amphibian center and the wild adventure ride.

Related: Best Parks For Kids In Detroit

After receiving a BA in Photography from Savannah College of Art & Design, Nicole Wrona began working with a diverse range of musicians. In addition, she is a freelance writer for numerous publications. Her work can be found at www.metalleaves.com and Examiner.com.

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