ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Train Activities for Families in St. Paul, Minnesota

Updated on March 20, 2012

About the Author: Brandi Ryan is raising train enthusiasts. She has enthusiastically said "Chugga Chugga" and "Choo Choo" in places she didn't know existed four years ago.

The twin cities of Saint Paul and Minneapolis contain a number of fun, low-cost, train activities for families. This article covers the best of the Saint Paul, Minnesota train activities for families. For train themed destinations in Minneapolis check here.

Choo Choo Bob's

2050 Marshall Avenue, St. Paul, MN 55104

If there's a young train enthusiast in your family the odds are high you've already found Choo Choo Bob's. This train shop in the MacGroveland neighborhood is dedicated to train fans young and old. Model train cars and supplies are sold side by side with playsets for young children. The real draw though is the running model trains, the six train tables for open play at the back of the store, and the kind and knowledgeable staff. Bob's does not charge a fee to use their play tables but they do have a box for donations to "keep the lights on." A variety of tempting items are available for sale and easily browsed while simultaneously supervising playtime. Choo Choo Bob's also offers an onsite party service.

Most exhibits begin at waist height to an adult.  Although some stools are around a light stool might be a good addition to your family's day out kit.
Most exhibits begin at waist height to an adult. Although some stools are around a light stool might be a good addition to your family's day out kit.

Twin Cities Model Railroad Museum

1021 Bandana Blvd, St. Paul, MN 55108

The Model Railroad Museum is all about motion in miniatures. The intricate set-ups are on the move and a wonder to behold. In one building a room size layout replicating parts of Twin Cities snakes over bridges and through hills. In another a tiny fairground keeps company with a recreated 1950s town and many other small model villages. There are some trains the children can operate themselves and an assortment of hands on activities.

Beware however that this is not a great spot for a mobile but uninhibited child. While not a strict "no touch" museum many of the set ups are exhibit like and surrounded on all four sides by plexiglass. It's a practical and understandable choice but it's not appealing to everyone. You'll also want to check the hours before you go. The museum is spread over two buildings. Currently the room size set up is open more hours than the more diverse toy train division. To get the best value for your dollar go when both sections are open.

A few of the cars at Jackson Street Roundhouse.
A few of the cars at Jackson Street Roundhouse.

Thomas' Shed. Tidier than the Jackson Street Roundhouse but harder to climb.

Minnesota Transportation Muesum

193 Pennsylvania Ave. E, St. Paul, MN 55130

The Jackson Street Roundhouse is the hub of this museum. While it may seem like little more than a warehouse to the modern observer, the roundhouse is the point at the end of the rail line where engines could ride a giant wheel to make an about face on the tracks. Today museum visitors are permitted to ride the wheel during regularly scheduled turnings. Those with small children might want to keep a firm hand on them or keep the little ones buckled in a stroller. The round house platform is high with widely spaced rails. The center point turns more slowly while the ends have a bit of speed to them.

The roundhouse itself is a train car museum. Engines, a caboose, and other cars are displayed in various states of restoration. Visitors can climb inside and explore at their own pace. Many exhibits have detailed explanations posted. The museum also has a souvenier shop and train tables available for free play.

Please note that this is not a fancy museum. Trains are large and the historic space that holds them is difficult to insulate. Temperatures are managed for practicality rather than museum levels of indoor comfort. The museum does not have a restaurant or even a snack machine. Bathrooms and parking are both convenient and well maintained. The majority of the museum is stroller accessible but close up views of the outdoor warehouse behind the museum and cars beside the building can be difficult for the less mobile.

Chris and Rob's (grill and fry restaurant on West 7th)

603 West 7th St, St. Paul, MN 55402

Chris and Rob's Chicago Taste Authority does not run a series of train themed restaurants. They do, however, have a spectacular location on West 7th. The exterior still looks like a train. Most of the interior seating area has the look of a vintage dining car. The manager said he had no information on the history of the car; it was already a restaurant when Chris and Rob's took over. If it isn't authentic it's a very good replica.

For the young train enthusiast there's not a better restaurant in Saint Paul. In addition to hotdogs the menu includes sandwiches, pizza, burgers, and a number of a la carte sides. For the older members of your party they serve beer and usually have at least one TV playing sports.

Saint Paul Union Depot

214 E 4th St, St. Paul, MN 55101

As of today (February 1, 2012) there's not much to say about Union Depot. It will eventually be the end of the light rail line connecting St. Paul and Minneapolis. It's a beautiful historic building and judging by the pictures on the internet it's being lovingly restored to its former glory and updated to include the shops, offices, and condos that serve a modern population. Currently though it's more than a construction site. If you're interested in watching the progress Lowertown Landing and Saint Paul Spot are following the project on Facebook.

Union Depot Playground

Part of the playground at 4th and Sibley in downtown St. Paul.   It's open for play but scheduled for a needed facelift in 2013.  So far they plan to refresh the theme rather than redesign the park.  Union Depot is visible in the background.
Part of the playground at 4th and Sibley in downtown St. Paul. It's open for play but scheduled for a needed facelift in 2013. So far they plan to refresh the theme rather than redesign the park. Union Depot is visible in the background.

Java Train Cafe

1341 Pascal St N, St. Paul, MN 55108

It's a coffee shop with a train theme. The drinks are priced about about like you'd expect and the food items are kid friendlier than some other places. Inside there is a large climbing play structure styled after a train. Outside there is a second play structure and a sandbox.

While a great overall concept it can be a challenge when the inside play area gets crowded. Parents can't see from the tables what sort of mischief is going on inside the engine and the stairs are steep enough that some find them worrying.

Indian Mounds Park

Mounds Park, 10 Mounds Blvd, St. Paul, MN 55106

Indian Mounds Park overlooks the switching yard along the Mississippi River and the regional airport. It features a playground, picnic tables, tennis courts, open mowed field areas and yes, actual Indian mounds. There are official lookout points and several unfenced overlooks with spectacular views of the still active train yard. Because of safety concerns (ie unfenced bluffs) parents with rambunctious children and groups are strongly urged to use caution. The playground is across the park road from the bluffs (and the view).

Rosedale Mall

10 Rosedale Center, Roseville, MN 55113

A child size indoor train drives throughout the mall. There's a fee and the ride can seem too brief but it can be a nice respite. Current online information on the hours for the train is scant (it runs more around Christmas) but the business is called Loco-Motives and lists it's phone number as 703.627.6152

Rosedale also has an indoor play area. There's no train theme here but plenty to climb on for free and riding toys that move for quarters.

Maplewood Mall also has a train. Hours, cost, and tips are provided here.


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No comments yet.


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)