Prior to having children I didn’t realize I could experience train withdrawal. Previously I went years, if not decades, without interacting with locomotives in an up close and personal way. In an effort to placate my children, and save myself from insanity, I have sourced a multitude of train attractions – welcome to the Family Fun Vancouver Guide to Train Rides & Activities in Metro Vancouver. Who knew there were so many train attractions around Metro Vancouver? Woot woot!
Trains Open Year Round
1) West Coast Heritage Railway (Squamish) – if you want the real McCoy this is the place to go. “Squamish trains” – as they are known in our house – is a site to behold. Not only is there a spectacular roundhouse filled with full-sized trains awaiting your exploration, there is an entire train yard open to you. Inside one of the trains is a massive miniature train set. There is also a ride-on train which circles the edges of the property. The West Coast Heritage Railway is open every day (except Christmas Day and News Years) from 10am – 4pm. It is here that you can ride the Polar Express and and Spend the Day Out with Thomas!
2) Art Knapp (Surrey) – of all the places to find trains! The Art Knapp gardening store out in Surrey has a huge collection of trains. There are 2 train tables for the kids, there are garden-scale trains set up inside and outside, and there is a train to ride through the outdoor section of the nursery. Make sure you pick up a loyalty card, after 10 rides you get a free one!
3) Dewdney-Alouette Railway Society Diorama (Maple Ridge) – in the basement of the Maple Ridge Museum is the spectacular diorama of historical Maple Ridge. The volunteers have created an unbelievably detailed display. They are eager to share their enthusiasm with visitors; there are buttons on the displays for the kids to push. The diorama is open to the public the last Sunday of every month from 1pm – 4pm.
4) Britannia Mine Museum (Britannia Beach) – Faces just seem to light up once the new Britannia Mine Museum’s underground train pulls out. It’s a ride that introduces the joys, noise and stories of BC mining history and pioneers. As the Britannia Mine Museum is 15 minutes away from the West Coast Heritage Railway Park, you can make a train-day-of-it!
5) Engine 374 Pavilion (Yaletown, Vancouver) – inside the Roundhouse Community Centre sits Engine 374. It is open to the public so climb aboard and see what an engine from 1887 looks and feels like.
6) Burnaby Village Museum – while there aren’t any moving trains there is an old passenger train open for the kids to climb on. If the kids want something that moves, just head indoors to the fastest merry-go-round I’ve ever encountered.
7) Skytrain (Expo Line, Millennium Line, Canada Line) – in a moment of train-desperation we have been known to take our kids on the Skytrain. They think it is great fun, especially if they can get the front seat and pretend to drive. We have yet to ride the Canada Line, but I can’t imagine I’ll be saying that for much longer. The Expo Line runs through Surrey, Burnaby and into Vancouver; Millennium runs through New Westminster, North Burnaby and into Vancouver; the Canada Line runs from Vancouver out to the airport in Richmond. And the new Evergreen line runs through the tri-cities.
Trains Open a Portion of the Year
1) Orange Caboose (Fort Langley) – tucked behind the historic railway station in Fort Langley is a bright orange caboose. Inside is a beautiful diorama lovingly constructed by volunteers. On Saturdays and Sundays from 1-4pm, from the May long weekend through to Thanksgiving, miniature model trains run around the tracks. Sometimes even Thomas has been known to make an appearance.
2) Burnaby Central Railway (Confederation Park, Burnaby) – without a doubt the ride-on trains at Burnaby Central Railway are the favourite for my boys. I can’t count the number of times we’ve ridden those trains. The price is very good ($4.50 per ride per person), the ride is about 10 minutes long, there are different routes through the woods of Confederation Park, and the whole thing is run by volunteers who love trains. You can book birthday parties and experience their very-fun Halloween train rides. The Burnaby Central Railway is open from Easter to Thanksgiving (with a special one-night opening for Halloween). trains for riding!
3) Stanley Park Miniature Train (Vancouver) – everyone knows of the Bright Lights Christmas train, the Halloween Ghost train, and the Easter Train but Stanley Park’s miniature train also runs during the summer.
4) Bear Creek Park Train (Surrey) – it is closed for the months of January and November as well as a portion of May and October. Bear Creek is known for their Halloween and Christmas trains; however, they do run other months, and it much less crowded. Every child gets to blow the engine’s horn at the conclusion of the ride; a big perk in the eyes of our boys.
5) Safari Mini Train (Langley) – the Greater Vancouver Zoo’s mini train takes visitors on a 12 minute tour around the edge of the Zoo. The train does not run regularly during the winer months but you can count on it operating regularly through the summer. If your little one’s heart is set on riding the train be sure to call ahead to confirm it is operational. The cost is $5 per person (over the age of 2 years) to ride the train.
6) Fraser Valley Heritage Railway (Cloverdale) – a fully-restored interurban train carries passengers on a 55 minute ride from the Cloverdale Station to Sullivan Station & back. After riding the train head over to the Carbarn and ride a speeder and a velocipede. The Heritage Railway is open from May – September.
If I’ve missed a train-experience from this list please send me an email (firstname.lastname@example.org) and we’ll update our list.