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Exploring STL: Museum of Transportation

2013 May 28
by Becky


Last week Ethan and I joined our buddies Catrina and Claire at the Museum of Transportation…a trip that’s been at the top of our to-do list. It’s located just West of us in a little corner of Kirkwood. There’s plenty of parking and no crowds to hassle with during the week. The newly renovated museum, something I’ve been hearing about for a looong time, has a working mini-train, the Creation Station— a huge playroom for kids, vintage firetrucks, model trains, and more than 70 REAL trains…basically it’s a cool excursion for kids of any age.

First up, we spent an hour in the Creation Station. I loved the bright room with the light streaming in, happy kids running everywhere, imaginations bursting as they carted trains and cars and tracks from table to table. It’s an easy place for parents (plenty of dads too!) to meet up while their kids play in a safe and educational environment. There were lots of infants dozing in carseats around the room’s perimeter while their older siblings enjoyed themselves.



The space included plenty of non-train activities too. Like puzzles, a climbable school bus, a well-stocked play kitchen, dress up clothes, huge craft table complete with a very sweet staff member to help with crafts, and even a fishing “pond” (one of Ethan’s new favorite activities).





There was so much to do Ethan actually had a little trouble engaging at first so I had to provide plenty of encouragement. But the hour flew by. I say hour, because the museum keeps Creation Station crowds at a minimum by selling a limited number of tickets per hour slot. No reservations are accepted so arrive a few minutes before the time you’d like to play (see the times here). 

Next we headed out for a ride on the mini train.



You could also call this “snack time”. Just a couple quick zips around the outside of the museum—the perfect amount of time to devour a banana and cup of cheddar bunnies. These two are hilarious with their snacks…if one has something, the other one wants it and vice versa. Good thing they like to share.

Next up: The Big Trains.  OldTrain


Just up the hill from the main museum (a short walk or a fun two minute tram ride) sits track after track of beautiful old trains. You can almost hear the stories they tell. Some are just to gaze upon, others are climbable…and it took our toddlers about two seconds to figure out which ones were hands-on.



Notice I’m only getting the back of Ethan…it’s cause he’s running through the train as fast as possible. It was back and forth and back and forth, Claire and Ethan slapping their feet to make echoes through the round Tank Car. Is this the safest “playground” for toddlers? No, not really. Ethan almost ate it every time he stepped back into this car because of it’s slick no-tread surface. Did he care? Nope. He had a blast. I had to physically remove him from this attraction in order to move on.

And just when I thought we may have a rarely-witnessed Little Man Meltdown on our hands, it was time to take a trolley ride. To see MORE trains.



I think the trolley was quite possibly my favorite part. The driver (of whom I should have requested a photograph) was even dressed in a 60’s-esque uniform complete with bow tie, just to take museum goers back and forth a short distance on the mint-condition trolley. We stepped off at a “station” filled with trains and wandered around amidst the tracks.

Eventually the kids, interested but not quite as enamored as us moms, found a deserted (and off-limits…oops) section of track where I got a little camera happy.



This could have gone on all day. Claire had some incredible super-hero poses going on as she hammed it up for the camera. Ethan was tougher, I was eventually bribing with M&Ms to get just one more shot.

Our morning was over in a blink and soon we were pushing lunch time, in turn pushing nap time, and had to call it a day. I think the kids gave this place two thumbs up and I, for one, want to go back very soon.

The scoop: Tickets to the overall museum are $8/person over 13, $5/person 5 and under. It’s an extra $2/person for an hour in Creation Station and $4/person for unlimited rides on the miniature train. We were lucky, Catrina had a membership that covered most of these fees. We may be getting a membership of our own soon! It’s not a bad deal if you take two people more than twice a  year.

I’d say this is a hidden gem of St. Louis. Anyone else been here lately?

4 Responses
  1. May 28, 2013

    I remember going there a long time ago. Looks like they’ve made great changes and good educational improvements. Super.

  2. Rocky M permalink
    July 6, 2013

    If you cam tell us what day you were at the Museum of Transportation, we can probably identify our volunteers who made your day fun and exciting.

  3. July 7, 2013

    I loved reading about your trip to the Museum of Transportation.

    Your blog site is so very sweet! (You are a fun mom!)

    We hope you come back soon! (I love your photographs, too. The one in the tank car is fantastic.)

    Terri McEachern, Executive Director
    Transport Museum Association

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