Train Rides Near Me | Fun Train-Themed Activities, Events, and Rides in 2024

TRAIN THEMED FUN | Activities, Events, & Train Rides Near Me

If your kid loves trains, you might be searching for “train rides near me” trying to find anything train-related nearby. Luckily, Central Indiana offers train rides, train car hotel rooms, train-themed events, train activities, museums and exhibits, and more!

Whether your child watches Thomas and Friends nonstop, loves their train table, or is intrigued by anything with wheels, you want to encourage this interest and all of the learning that comes with it. I remember my child’s Thomas and Friends obsession. I secretly loved it because of all of the ways he learned by building tracks, interacting with others around a train table, recognizing different modes of transportation, learning about different types of cargo and fuel, and reading all kinds of books about trains. Bringing him to see trains, train hotels, train events, and train activities around town was so fun and educational at the same time!

Here are some of the best train-themed activities, events, and places to visit in and around Indianapolis:

Hop Aboard a Real Train! Year-Round Train Rides Near Me

These family-friendly train rides are close to Indianapolis or worth the drive and offer rides on working trains throughout the year. Year-round train rides near me:

Explore Seasonal Train Rides and Railway Fun

These awesome train rides and train-themed experiences are operational for part of the year, whether it be summer at the farm, fall festivals, rides to the North Pole, or seasonal events. Seasonal railway fun and train rides near me:

  • The amazing Jingle Rails at the Eiteljorg will take your breath away! The beauty of the setup created with natural goods, featuring displays of cities around the world as well as sights here in Indianapolis, will set the stage for your own little conductor’s future creations.
  • Ride the Santa Claus Express at Celebration Crossing at the Indiana State Museum. This train ride is great with small children. There is also a wonderful photo opportunity with Santa and a winter playland set up on the main floor.
  • From Spring until Fall, the Indiana Live Steamers Club offers $4 train rides aboard their real small steam engine trains one Saturday a month! Passengers pay $4 each for a 20-minute ride over and under bridges and through the woods at Johnson County Park.

children and adults sit on a mini train on tracks at indiana live steamers

  • Take a ride on the Polar (Bear) Express at these locations throughout Indiana. It’s a special tradition for many train-loving families complete with hot chocolate, a ride to the North Pole, and a visit with Santa!
  • During the Fall Festival in September and October, you can ride on a mini train at Lark Ranch in Greenfield and Lark Ranch in Loogootee. The train ride is included with admission to the Fall Festival and whizzes around the entire pumpkin patch and cornfield, past an old town and the petting zoo.
  • Sullivan Hardware in Indianapolis has its famous Christmas train ride experience, the Sullivan Santa Express, with a ride through tunnels and past animatronic displays. Children can disembark at the North Pole and sit on Santa’s lap before getting back on the train to the station. The newly added PumpkinTown Sullivan Express at their Allisonville location offers Halloween shows, trick-or-treating, and more outdoor activities.

a small steam train rolls through pumpkin town festival at sullivan's hardware

  • Hop aboard the Nickel Plate Reindeer Ride Express, departing from Forest Park in Noblesville! Guests will take a cozy 75-minute ride in the caboose to see Santa’s North Pole.
  • Conservatory Crossing is a special display of electric trains, holiday decor, and poinsettias in the Garfield Park Conservatory. Enjoy a fun seek and find this holiday season!
  • Fort Wayne is host to the Fort Wayne Santa Train. Visit the station after the 20-minute train ride to check out the model trains on display, as well as two full-sized steam engines.

Stay Overnight in Train-Themed Hotel Rooms

Crown Plaza Train Car Hotel Rooms

Spend the night in an authentic train car at the Crown Plaza Hotel in the Old Union Station in downtown Indianapolis. 26 of the rooms are old train cars still on the original tracks! You can even swim in the old train station!

children peek out of the windows of a train car converted into a hotel

Dine In at Train-Themed Restaurants

Broad Ripple Ice Cream Station

Broad Ripple Ice Cream Station (BRICS) is the former home of the Monon Railway Station. These days, Indianapolis area train-loving families can choose from nearly 40 flavors of ice cream. On a cold day, heat up inside in front of the fireplace, and on a nice day, sit on the patio and watch passersby on the Monon Trail.

Coffee at the Crossing

At this cozy, adorable McCordsville coffee shop, you can sip a warm beverage and enjoy a treat in a real train car. This is not the first time this vehicle has been reimagined for an alternate use — in previous years, it housed a barber shop! “Board” the train from inside the main shop after you make your purchases. While not a true play cafe, Coffee at the Crossing offers some toys and games to keep kids entertained. The train-themed decor adds to the charm for kids and adults alike.

Pizza King Station Train Restaurant

A great stop for lunch for train-loving tots is the Indiana favorite, Pizza King Station. The Indianapolis and Avon locations have a train that circles the restaurant, stopping at tables to deliver beverages!
two boys watch through a window as a train delivers their drinks to their table at pizza king

Los Panchos Mexican Food Train Car

While visiting the Lincoln Pioneer Village during our visit to Santa Claus, Indiana for the holidays, we had lunch at Los Panchos, a small Mexican food restaurant built inside an old train caboose in Rockport, Indiana. The food was very good and there was a children’s menu.

Red Line Frozen Treats Yogurt Train

Red Line Frozen Treats, named for Chicago’s busiest rail line, is a south-side treat. Choose from 21 flavors of fro-yo and 50 toppings at the counter in a real train car. Take a seat at the back of the train or in the spacious shop that’s fashioned to look like a subway station. Kids will love the magnetic train-themed walls.

a silver train car now houses the red line frozen treats store

Old Spaghetti Factory

Have dinner in a trolley car at the Old Spaghetti Factory in downtown Indianapolis! The open-air trolley car has tables that seat up to four people so larger groups will have to split up. There is now an Old Spaghetti Factory in Carmel, Indiana with a trolley car you can eat in as well!

a red trolley dining car sits inside the dining room of the old spaghetti factory restaurant

Witness Incredible Train Displays & Railroad Layouts

Mr. Muffins Trains

Most Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., Steve and Liz Nelson allow families to check out their large collection of miniature steam, diesel, and electric trains at Mr. Muffin’s Trains. Tiny tracks travel through miniature cities and hand-painted waterscapes created by this duo. Find more information on Facebook or at

Columbus Railroad Club at Johnson County Park

The Columbus Area Railroad Club calls Johnson County Park their home. They have a layout in a building where they operate their trains for the public on certain Saturdays. Admission is free.

a little girl is happy and in awe of the model train track and city layout

Trains at The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis

The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis has an entire exhibit area dedicated to transportation by train. Located right in Indianapolis, this may be one of the most convenient train rides near me. Walk in and out of a real train, operate miniature train track lights, crawl around and see the miniature displays, and run a train station… there are so many “jobs” for your child who loves trains.

Richmond Furniture Gallery Train Rides & Collection

Only about 90 minutes away, the city of Richmond also has a love for trains. On Saturdays and Sundays, check out the model trains and then take a free ride aboard the train at the top of the Richmond Furniture Gallery.

EnterTRAINment Junction in Cincinnati, Ohio

EnterTRAINment Junction has the largest train display in the world! Over 2 miles of railroad tracks make their way through a 25,000-square-foot train display that’s busy with moving parts, lights, water, and more. There’s a play area, a fun house attraction area, a train museum, and more.

a multi level train-themed jungle gym for children

Who knew there were so many opportunities for train rides and train-themed fun in and around Indianapolis? In the summer and fall, enjoy outdoor mini train rides at farms and fall festivals. The fun doesn’t stop in the winter with Polar Express rides and holiday train displays. When you’re ready, take a ride on a real locomotive engine. We’re lucky to have so many options for “train rides near me” in Central Indiana.

In addition to train rides, bring your child to train-themed restaurants, museum exhibits, and even a train car hotel room! What are your favorite train rides near me? Share your best train-related comments and photos with us below or tag us on social media using #PLAYindy. Follow Indy with Kids on FacebookInstagramTwitter, and Pinterest for all of the best ideas and things to do with kids in Indy!

Train Rides & Railway Fun in Indianapolis Train Themed Fun: Train Rides, Events, and Activities Train Rides Near Me

9 thoughts on “Train Rides Near Me | Fun Train-Themed Activities, Events, and Rides in 2024”

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  2. Hi! I love this site! My granddaughter and I recently took a train ride on the Nickel Plate Express out of Atlanta, Indiana and had a ball! While I see mention of that train on your site, one must scroll to the very bottom of the page and it only mentions the harvest time themed trip. FYI they are now offering rides throughout the year on weekends.

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