Reasons why trains make the perfect family activity:
- They are intricate and no two train attractions are exactly alike. This means your kids will never tire of seeing a new train.
- Riding a train is exciting. How fast will it go? What sounds will you hear? What will you see out the window? The unknowns are endless.
- They can be part of a day full of activities, or the main attraction. We’ve thrown a train ride in when we’re at Stanley Park or Bear Creek Park and it starts to rain. We’ve also built our whole day around trains by visiting the Railway Museum of BC. Depending on your family’s love of trains, you can decide how long you want to spend exploring.
- Exploring trains, learning about trains, playing with trains and riding trains is a lot of fun–for all ages!
Have you visited any of these trains around Metro Vancouver? I had no idea there were so many, but now I have more to add to our list of “to-visit” places.
Trains Open Year Round
1) Railway Museum of BC (Squamish) – if you want the real McCoy this is the place to go. Formerly called The West Coast Heritage Railway Park, this is the ultimate attraction for train aficionados. There is a spectacular roundhouse filled with full-sized trains awaiting your exploration, and 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 that circles the edges of the property. It is here that you can ride the Polar Express and enjoy a Day Out with Thomas!
2) Britannia Mine Museum (Britannia Beach) – Faces will light up once the 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. The best part? The Britannia Mine Museum is 15 minutes away from the Railway Museum of BC so you can make a train-day-of-it!
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 on the last Sunday of every month from 1pm – 4pm.
4) 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.
5) 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.
6) Skytrain – 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. Most people think of the Skytrain as just a way to get around Metro Vancouver, but for kids, the Skytrain is magical! It doesn’t really matter where you are going, although there are plenty of great places to stop for lunch or play at a playground if you want to make a day of it!
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 a favourite for kids of all ages! 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. The Burnaby Central Railway is open from Easter to Thanksgiving (with a special one-night opening for Halloween).
3) Stanley Park Miniature Train (Vancouver) – The Stanley Park Mini Train is a Vancouver icon, and Vancouverites were collectively disappointed when it closed several times in 2021 and 2022 for maintenance issues. It remains closed into 2023, but there are promising developments that they might be able to find the vintage parts they need to bring the train up to safety code and get it running again. We will keep our fingers crossed and our eyes open for news of it re-opening.
4) Bear Creek Park Train (Surrey) – This fun train is open April- August 10am-5pm, with special event trains (Halloween and Christmas) running yearly. The train station is situated in Bear Creek Park, near Surrey Arts Centre and some great playgrounds. It can easily be a full day of fun if you pack a picnic lunch and spend some time at the playground!
5) Safari Mini Train (Langley) – the Greater Vancouver Zoo’s mini train takes visitors on a tour around the edge of the Zoo. The train does not run regularly during the winter 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.
6) Fraser Valley Heritage Railway (Cloverdale) – a fully-restored interurban train that carries passengers on a 55-minute ride from 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.
7) 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.
8) Steveston Tram (Steveston)- The Steveston Tram Museum features Tram Car 1220, a tram that was in use for early Interurban travel across Richmond. Step inside for interactive features, miniature LEGO models, and special events, depending on the season.
Have we missed your favourite Metro Vancouver train? Send us an email (firstname.lastname@example.org) and we’ll update our list.