Kansas City Zoo: Go for a ride on the mini train at the zoo and spot camels and kangaroos along the way. The train stops at the World Gate and Australia, and runs daily from 9:30 a.m. through the end of the day, weather permitting. The cost is $3 per round trip, and children 2 and under are free with a paying adult. Kansas City Zoo is located at 6800 Zoo Dr., Kansas City, MO.
Midland Railway Historical Association: This not-for-profit organization offers over-20-mile round-trip train rides from Baldwin City, Kansas, to Ottawa Junction, Kansas, via vintage railway equipment, as well as a nostalgic, 1940s-style ride on the Kansas Belle Dinner Train. Choose between a three-hour Saturday night evening run for a more romantic and formal dinner, or a Sunday afternoon run for a more informal, family-oriented dinner. Adventure lovers can also choose an optional murder mystery, WWII USO show, or melodrama. Midland Railway is located at 1515 High Street, Baldwin City, KS. Visit www.midlandrailway.org for excursion schedules and to buy tickets. Tip: Many rides offer free ice cream!
Overland Park Arboretum and Botanical Gardens: You may not think of an arboretum as a place for train-lovers, but tucked in the back of the 300-acre Overland Park Arboretum is the Train Garden, which features a life-size caboose and model trains that wind through model villages and under your feet. The trains, which are operated by volunteers, run year-round from 10 a.m.-close, except during extreme weather conditions. Admission is $3 for visitors 13 and over, $1 for visitors 6-12, and free for ages 5 and under. Admission is free on Tuesdays. The arboretum is open seven days a week. Hours are 8 a.m.-7:30 p.m. from April 10-Sept. 30, and 8 a.m.-5 p.m. from Oct.1-April 9.
Union Station: Explore the historic former train station that opened in 1914. The 850,000-square-foot building once accommodated hundreds of thousands of passengers, and narrowly escaped demolition in the 1980s. Renovation was completed in 1999, and the building now hosts restaurants, exhibit spaces, a planetarium, movies, Science City, and more. The KC Rail Experience is a hands-on, permanent exhibit that tells the story of the American railroad. Union Station is also home to the the Model Railroad Experience, which includes 8,000 square feet of toy trains. Admission to the building is free, though charges apply for attractions. Union Station is located at 30 W. Pershing Rd, Kansas City, MO,. Hours are Monday-Saturday 10 a.m.-5 p.m. and Sunday from noon-5 p.m.
Amtrak: Take a ride on a real Amtrak train. Set off from one of the many train stations around the city. There are many round-trip tickets available for scenic day adventures. Ticket sales end 10 minutes before departure, and boarding gates close five minutes before departure. Visit www.amtrak.com for routes and pricing information.
Fritz's Railroad Restaurant: Established in 1954, Fritz's has become a Kansas City tradition. Guests order food using a telephone located at the table and a restaurant-wide overhead train delivers it. Kids love to watch the trains travel overhead as they anticipate their food arriving. Fritz’s has three locations: Crown Center, 2450 Grand Blvd, Kansas City, MO; 250 N. 18th St., Kansas City, KS; and 13803 W. 63rd St., Shawnee, KS.
Legoland Discovery Center: The new Train Station Adventure exhibit opened in May. Young visitors can play on a train-themed play structure, build Lego trains and experience a virtual reality ride in a conductor's chair. Legoland Discovery Center is located at 2475 Grand Blvd., Kansas City, MO 64108.
Note: If you're visiting Crown Center for the new Train Station Adventure at Legoland Discovery Center and lunch at Fritz's, be sure to stop by Thomas & Friends: Explore the Rails, a free exhibit visiting Crown Center through Sept. 10, 2017.
Tina Klugman moved to Kansas City after graduating from the University of Central Missouri with a bachelor’s degree in journalism in 2001. Klugman soon fell in love with the city, and enjoys exploring it with her husband, son and twin daughters. Now a resident of Overland Park, Klugman is a frequent contributor to several Kansas City-based magazines.
Best Bets articles represent the views and the research completed by Kansas City Sprout & About journalists and are not driven by advertising or requests by vendors or venues. Best Bets do not imply an endorsement of a business or activity.
From the calendar