Thanks to Thomas & Friends and the slew of train toys, videos and books, kids these days are loco for locomotives. If your little conductor constantly choooses (see what we did there?) trains as his or her toy of choice, now’s the perfect time to get your caboose out the door and check out the real thing. Whether you desire a casual day of train watching or an exhilarating ride on the rails, there are plenty of train-tastic places around Seattle for locomotive lovers.
photo: Allison Rasmussen
Where to See Trains
Located in Ballard, this park is well-known for it’s sandy beaches and awesome water views, but it’s also a fun place to watch and listen for trains. The train track is located next to the overflow parking area, above the pedestrian tunnel. Let the horn and clackety-clack of the rails be your guide.
Good to Know: Kids can burn off some energy at the awesome playground in between train spotting or look for treasures on the beach.
photo: Matthew M. via Yelp
8498 Seaview Pl. N.W.
Seattle, Wa 98117
Olympic Sculpture Park
This hugely popular Puget Sound park is a must-visit for train lovers. Not only can you check out the sculptures and skip rocks into the water, you are guaranteed a freight train sighting. There are so many different vantage points to watch the trains go by, and if you’re lucky, a conductor will even give your little train enthusiast a wave or honk of the horn.
photo: Dan V. via Yelp
2901 Western Ave.
Seattle, Wa 98121
Possibly one of the coolest places in Seattle to spot trains is Carkeek Park. Not only can you sit on the beach and watch the trains go by, you can also stand on the bridge and watch the trains move beneath you. Make a game of it by taking turns to see who can get the conductor to sound the horn.
Good to Know: The stairs leading down from the bridge are see-through and might be a little hard for the younger crowd to navigate on their own.
photo: Corrine M. via Yelp
950 N.W. Carkeek Park Rd.
Seattle, Wa 98177
Richmond Beach Saltwater Park
Similar to Carkeek Park, this Shoreline spot has a bridge that connects the park to the beach where you can watch as the trains zoom beneath you. Don’t be surprised to see kids once busy building sand castles come storming up the steps once a train is heard rounding the corner.
2021 N.W. 190th St.
Shoreline, Wa 98177
photo: Oremo O. via Yelp
Meadowdale Beach Park
Get ready to throw out some chugga chugga choo-choos at this Edmonds beach park. Experience trains in a whole new way as you stand in the tunnel directly below the train tracks. While you won’t be able to see the trains from the tunnel, you can definitely feel the rumble as they whiz by above you. Once you step out onto the beach, little rail buffs can take in the track in all it’s glory and watch for more trains to go by in between burying their toes in the sand.
photo: Shirley M. via Yelp
6026 156th St. S.W.
Edmonds, Wa 98026
If cool bridges, trains, sandy beaches, and finding small critters strike your little adventurers’ fancy, then keep this Everett Park on your radar. Watch the trains speed by from the bridge, then continue down the spiral staircase to the beach below. If your little engines get tired of train watching, there is a nearby playground just waiting to be played on. Pack a lunch and make a day of it!
photo: Angela D. via Yelp
1127 Olympic Blvd.
Everett, Wa 98203
Where to Ride Trains
Seattle Center Monorail
If simply seeing trains is not enough and your train lover requires a more hands-on approach, then a quick ride on the monorail is a perfect activity. This short ride takes you from the Seattle Center to Westlake Center and leaves every 10 minutes so there’s no chance of the Littles getting antsy from a long wait.
Photo: Allison Rasmussen
305 Harrison St.
Seattle, Wa 98109
400 Pine St.
Seattle, Wa 98101
Hours: Mon.-Thurs., 7:30 a.m.-9 p.m.; Fri., 7:30 a.m.-11 p.m.; Sat., 8:30 a.m.-11 p.m., Sun., 8:30 a.m.-9 p.m.
Cost: One way tickets are $2.25/adults, $1/kids (5-12), $1/seniors (65 & older), 4 & under Free
Northwest Railway Museum
For a full, exhilarating, train-riding experience, a visit to the Northwest Railway Museum will most definitely be a hit with your train worshippers. The Museum itself is open year-round, 7 days a week and offers guided tours. The Centennial Trail exhibit is located on a public walkway, is free, and never closes. The museum also offers activities such as Day Out With Thomas, Pre-School Train, Santa Train, and Whistle Stop Birthday Parties.
Good to Know: Train rides run Apr.-Oct. on Sat. & Sun. This 5-mile railway experience travels from the Snoqualmie Depot to the North Bend Depot and shows off some spectacular views of Snoqualmie Falls and the Upper Snoqualmie Valley.
photo: Allison Rasmussen
38625 S.E. King St.
Snoqualmie, Wa 98065
205 E. McClellan St.
Northbend, Wa 98045
Hours: Depot is open Sun.-Sat., 10 a.m.-5 p.m.; trains run Apr.-Oct. (see their website for the full schedule)
Cost: Visiting the depot and grounds is free of charge. Round trip fares are $18/adults, $16/seniors (62 & older), $10/kids (2-12), under 2 Free
Another way to make your rail buff happy is to take a ride on the Sounder. Trains run between Lakewood and Seattle with stops in Tacoma, Puyallup, Sumner, Auburn, Kent and Tukwila and from Everett to Seattle with stops in Mukilteo and Edmonds. Pick a starting and stopping place and head out on an adventure you won’t soon forget.
Good to Know: The doors open for only a short time so be prepared to get on board quickly by having strollers folded up and all belongings with you. Drinks are okay as long as they have lids, but eating onboard is not permitted. Don’t worry about your little ones needing an emergency potty break because trains are equipped with small restrooms.
photo: Greg D. via Yelp
Do you have a train lover in the fam? Where’s your favorite place to spot trains? Tell us in the Comments.
— Allison Rasmussen