Jingle Rails: The Great Western Adventure
Be sure to add the Jingle Rails Indianapolis exhibit to your holiday “must-see” list this year. This annual tradition at the Eiteljorg Museum of American Indians and Western Art is back for another year to inspire children and adults alike. Featuring nine G-scale electric trains rambling along 1,200 feet of track and made from all-natural materials, it is a captivating sight that any train enthusiast will enjoy.
Jingle Rails: The Great Western Adventure is back for its 14th year and will run from November 18, 2023, through January 15, 2024. As you walk through the exhibit, you will see model trains winding through miniature landscapes across the Western United States. Each scene is adorned with Christmas decorations and snow. From Mt. Rushmore to Las Vegas and Old Faithful to the Hoover Dam, there are sites everyone will recognize.
Of course, the landscape wouldn’t be complete without familiar Indianapolis features. You’ll find a miniature Monument Circle with the Soldiers and Sailors Monument Christmas Tree, the AES Building lit for Christmas, Lucas Oil Stadium, and more. Be sure to peek inside the Lucas Stadium window to see the field and a Colts sign, too. There is even a replica of the Indiana State Fair including a Ferris wheel and the Glass Barn.
Activity and Education Areas
Don’t miss the Indianapolis Motor Speedway with racing cars on your way out of the exhibit! The most amazing part is that all of the scenes are created using elm bark, pine cone scales, cinnamon, acorns, walnuts, and other materials found in nature.
Families visiting with young children won’t want to miss a recent addition to the Jingle Rails Indianapolis experience. The museum now includes the Allen Whitehill Clowes Sculpture Court allowing more activity space to enjoy with this exhibit. Your children will love the two train tables, the art table with coloring pages and postcards, the reading nook with several train-themed books to choose from, and the Magna-tile table to build their own creations. The wall of windows overlooking West Street allows for a beautiful view whether you are facing outside or the Jingle Rails trains.
R.B. Annis Western Family Experience
While not specifically associated with the Jingle Rails Indianapolis exhibit, young children can learn more about families living in the contemporary West in the R.B. Annis Western Family Experience. While many of the Eiteljorg’s art and educational exhibits, focusing on Native Americans and the American West, will be of most interest to adults and older youth, preschoolers and school-age children can learn through play and interactive elements in this specially-designed center.
Visit immersive environments meant to evoke the lives and livelihoods of five diverse families from the American West. Engage in pretend play, educational interactives, and art-making activities. A nursing mother’s area and a quiet sensory room make this a truly thoughtful and family-friendly space.
Jingle Rails Indianapolis Holiday Tradition
Jingle Rails has become one of my family’s favorite holiday traditions. We love the convenient museum parking and the easy access to Jingle Rails just down the hallway from where you check-in. We highly recommend that you grab a Jingle Rails Activity Guide on your way into the exhibit. The I-Spy on the back shows different parts of the exhibit that you need to find and check off as you walk through. It kept my kids engaged, and we ended up walking around the whole exhibit three times to be sure we found everything!
My kids also highly recommend that you watch for the Old Faithful geyser. Luckily, it erupts every few minutes so you never have to wait long to see it.
Make This a Visit for Homeschool Families
Jingle Rails is also a great way for homeschooling families to learn about geography. The train travels through realistic depictions of national parks and historic locations. Informational signs accompany each area providing interesting facts and deepening the learning experience. This special exhibit is such an amazing experience for train lovers young and old.
Kids will love following the trains through tunnels, near buildings, and even above their heads. Adults will appreciate the attention to detail that went into every building and town. Take all the inspiration you will get from this exhibit and channel it into an epic afternoon of building trains, drawing pictures, reading about railroads, or any other way you can think to expand upon the experience.
Jingle Rails is an Indianapolis holiday favorite you won’t want to miss! The exhibit is open from November 18, 2023, to January 15, 2024. Get tickets here.
Book your family’s tickets for a real holiday train ride.
Ride the Snowfall Express at the Indiana State Museum’s Celebration Crossing, next door to the Eiteljorg.