Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Field Trip: EnterTRAINment

I meant to write this post months ago, but forgot about it until I came across the photos on my computer earlier today. When we were celebrating the holidays with my family in Ohio, we visited EnterTRAINment Junction in West Chester, Ohio. It is rare that a family outing is enjoyed by all present, which is why I wanted to plug EnterTRAINment.

I was a bit skeptical about the outing because at a family gathering in the summer we had all taken a train ride together that left out of Lebanon, Ohio. The train was old and really cool and the kids enjoyed the ride. However, at the halfway point, we got off for about twenty minutes and a lecture on train safety was presented. Honestly, the lecture was informative and I will for sure never consider pressing my luck at a railroad crossing, but I have to say it is a bit disconcerting to watch your son and nephew innocently eat fruit snacks while a man is asking the assembled crowd if they know how many train fatalities there are each year . . . But, back to EnterTRAINment.

The place is HUGE (80,000 square feet) and was really impressive. There is the largest, most involved display of model trains I've ever seen (not that I am a train junkie who has seen many others), and it is set up chronological order so you can see the history of railroading as you walk through. About halfway through the model train display, you can stop off in the children's play area. Bub and his cousin Handsome (also a spirited three year-old) had a blast in the play area, playing with trains and shoveling coal. My dad was really tickled to see his grandsons shoveling coal because that's something he did as a kid at his family's coal company. I was tickled because I had never heard my dad talk about shoveling coal before, and it was fun for me to imagine it.

In addition to the model train display and the play area, there is also a museum of American Railroading. If not for having to keep track of curious Bub and tend to Little Bit, I know my husband and I would have enjoyed taking time to read all of the information at the displays.

You can also peek in a huge, well-lit room where they work on the trains and displays. There was a sign that said something about volunteers, and it made me happy to think of retired guys, heading over to do this kind of work on trains. That kind of gig has to be somebody's dream, right?

The complex also has themed holiday walks (we skipped that as it cost extra and you never know what to expect with little ones and their attention spans), a gift shop, and a food court (which we, surprisingly, didn't visit). You know it's a successful outing with my family if no one needs a snack.

In warmer weather, there is an outdoor track where kids can engineer hand-cranked railroad cars. I don't know if Bub's old enough for that, but if he is, I'd be excited to visit again and to see what other improvements and additions have been made. There is some signage promising that they are no where near finished adding to EnterTRAINment.

I know many NTB readers do not live near Cincinnati, but if you ever have reason to be there, it may be worth checking out EnterTRAINment (and Kings Island and the Cincinnati Zoo and the Underground Railroad Freedom Center--which I still want to see myself, ditto the Purple People Bridge).

Bub was very serious about coal shoveling.

Some of the details . . . but these photos don't give the "big picture" in terms of the size of the display.

What are some points of interest for family fun in your neck of the woods? Please share.


Anonymous said...

Just wanted to second the plug for EnterTRAINment Junction. I was a little bit nervous to go there myself because I didn't think my young children would enjoy the display at all and I wasn't sure that I would. But, it was cold and we had out of town guests with a young child, so we needed to get a break from the house. Truth be told, I delighted in my kids' excitement over the whole thing. I just kept giggling at such a pleasant surprise. Oh, we will be back! We did stop for a drink at the food court as no outing is complete without chocolate milk in the eyes of my little boys. Glad to see you enjoyed it, too. Rita

CaraBee said...

Sounds like a neat place! We went to the B&O Railroad museum here in Baltimore last summer. Sophie was way to young for it, but I think she will enjoy it in future years.

Anonymous said...

We also visited the Junction over the holidays. I thought it was pretty cool and so did the girl. I am excited for the outdoor part when it is warmer. We did visit the food court...not so great, but with Tylersville road right around the corner, there are PLENTY of food options for a cheap meal.
Next time you are in OH, you should check out the Duke Children's Museum. Very hands-on and fun! L

Actchy said...

I must say, I'm disappointed that this post doesn't make more use of the term "choo choo."

Cool museum, though. Probably an important stop for my family at some point, becaues no doubt my son will always think of trains as dirty, noisy modes of transport that run underground.

Steph said...

I love trains and am sad that our train system in the states has been neglected. This sounds really cool!

Anonymous said...

I have never heard of this place and I live in the 'Nati. I am dying to go. I think that it sounds awesome. Maybe we could do it when you come back or take in another kid hotspot. We went to the Museum Center late in the day and it was fun. The pass makes it doable for a short amount of time. Thanks for the info. BDavin

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