My son Owen LOVES trains! Almost everyday, he asks me if we can “sit down in a train.” I usually have to tell him no, but today I got to tell him YES!
The Mt. Rainier Scenic Railroad is located in Elbe, WA (about 15-20 minutes past Northwest Trek.) They recommend that passengers arrive 30-45 minutes prior to the train ride so that there is plenty of time to park, get tickets (and pay $4 for parking), and get in line for the train. We ended up getting there more than an hour early and we found plenty to do to pass the time. For starters, their gift shop is perfect for toddlers/preschoolers who love trains! Not only did they have a section of Thomas the Train books, but they had train conductor hats, small trains, big trains, sticker books and more.
We rode the first train run of the season. They had just brought the train up the night before and they had to let it run for 90 minutes in the morning to slowly warm the engine up. Owen was mesmerized watching the train conductors work on the train and the conductors waved and were very friendly toward all the kids.
We boarded the steam train 15 minutes before our ticketed time, which gave us a lot of opportunity to pick our seats, take lots of photos, and just absorb the fact that we were in a real train. Once we started moving, we rode through the forest and over the Nisqually river before stopping at the Museum in Mineral, which opened in 2012. Owen enjoyed waving at the people in the cars who were stopped for the train crossing.
Owen’s highlight at the Museum was getting to climb aboard an engine and ring the bell. He would have stayed there the whole time, but it was a hot attraction for all the small kids. He also enjoyed simply walking around looking at all the big trains. We stopped inside some of the small houses where the exhibits were. Owen was fascinated by a model train where he could move the logs back and forth using a mechanism. We had to hold him, so it would have been more practical to have some sort of step stool available. 7 Things to Know:
There are bathrooms at the train station, on board the train and at the museum. There are snacks/drinks available at the gift shop at the train station, on board the train, and at the gift shop at the museum. You CAN eat and drink on board the train. This is essential if you have little kids. It’s about a 2 hour excursion (45 minute ride to Museum, 45 minutes to explore and 45 minutes back). You’ll need to pick up tickets inside the gift shop. These are souvenir tickets, so they are great for scrapbooks or displays. The windows on the train can open. So, if you’re easily chilly (like me) consider taking a jacket. If you sit in the back car on the way to the Museum, you can get a good photo of the train slowly climbing a hill.
After the train ride, we walked across the street to Scaleburgers. Our friends highly recommended this burger shack and I’m glad we checked it out. The burgers and fries tasted very fresh and they were pretty flavorful. They only accept cash and the seating is outdoors. They don’t allow pets in the dining area. The prices were very reasonable and they had a lot of options for everyone. Since it was chilly when we went, there wasn’t much of a line, however it was packed by the time we left. On a summer day, it might be quite a wait. But, for us it was a great way to end our train excursion!