I have a beloved toddler grandson and he and I go on adventures most Friday mornings. He likes being outside so we rotate between the Sacramento Zoo, Effie Yeaw Nature Area, and McKinley Park. About 6 months ago we went to the California State Railroad Museum one afternoon about 3:00 p.m. We had to park some distance from the museum and walk past the horse drawn carriages. So we rode the carriage and had them drop us at the museum. Then we became fascinated with the wooden sidewalks, the cobblestones, the full size caboose by the river, then the river, then the turntable for turning engines. By the time we made it back to the museum it was almost closing.
This time we got there as it opened at 10 a.m. Staying outside was not an option as the smoke from the Camp Fire (Paradise, 2018) was just too great to stay outdoors. When we walked through the entrance Cal saw a train engine and his smile was huge. He was so excited he was starfishing with his hands. When the greeter asked if anyone was a member or wanted to become a member I knew I might as well invest right away.
Admission is $12 per adults, $6 per child 6-17, free for children 5 and under. Memberships start at $30 per year, so it is worth considering. The museum is open daily from 10a.m.-5p.m. except Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s.
I used to bring my children here about 25 years ago. My son and daughter were not as excited about trains as my grandson clearly is. At the urging of the greeter we went directly up the stairs to the 3rd floor to where the model trains are displayed. There is also a “toy room” where wee people (ages 2-5) can play with wooden train sets. I was concerned that Cal would never willingly leave. He was over the moon.
We did eventually make it back to the ground floor to climb aboard all kinds of train engines and train cars. We saw a mail car, a sleeper, and a dining car. When we climbed up to the biggest engine we found our family friend Tom! He volunteers as a docent 2 days a week. He loves trains and he clearly enjoyed telling people about this engine. In fact, I believe the museum has more volunteers than any venue in Sacramento and they definitely make the experience.
We will be returning often.
P.S. The gift shop is also a great place to find things for the train enthusiast. You can shop without paying admission.