July 2012

Driving home from Waterton Lakes National Park a few weeks ago we thought we’d check out a fabulous local store in Nanton that beckons to the train lover in every boy and girl. When you walk through the doors of the Ultimate Trains and Big Sky Garden Railway store, it looks at first glance to be a toy store with a unique focus on trains. They sell every Thomas the Tank Engine accessory I’m sure in existence along with G-Scale Trains and accessories for older children who want a more elaborate train set. What really sets this store apart from your average toy store though is the garden out back. Once you pay the $8 admission fee, you’ll gain entrance to the garden which we might as well just call Wonder Land.

Train Table

The garden features three Thomas the Tank Engine play areas where kids of all ages can play for hours. There’s even a Thomas engine kids can get their picture taken with. The play areas are all covered so that you don’t need to worry about sun or rain during your visit and there are tables available for snacks or picnics. They even sell ice-cream on site.

Child sized Thomas

Now as cool as the play areas are, the real reason you are here is for the train display running through the garden. There are no words to accurately describe how amazing their garden village is. The village features a mountain with working cable car, towns, farms, industrial areas, bridges – and trains. There are dozens of trains running around through the village. If you’ve seen the train display that they set up at Heritage Park every Christmas , you are on the right track so to speak for beginning to imagine what the gardens look like. Except, you need to add flowers, put the whole display outside, and double the size! My son was so awe-struck by the whole thing that he barely said a word the whole time we were there. He just stood staring at all the trains running through the garden.

Ultimate Trains

If I haven’t convinced you yet to visit this amazing place, you’ll also get to experience Nanton’s Steamin’ Demon Ride-on-Train. The train barely looks big enough to fit a grown person yet adults and children are welcome to ride the train and you’ll get one complimentary ride with your visit. Additional rides are $2. The Train loops through the gardens giving you a very up-close look at the train display and village. This was the reason we sought out this store in all honesty. I wanted to ride the train. My son didn’t even know it existed. He sure does now though and I’m pretty sure we won’t be able to drive anywhere near Nanton without stopping in the future.

Big Sky Gardens

While you are in Nanton, there’s also an awesome community playground on the next street over from the store that’s worth visiting on a nice day. Bring a picnic lunch and make a day of it.

For more information on hours and location, visit the store’s website at www.ultimatetrains.com.