Grady just turned 3 last week! I can’t believe that I now have a 3 year old! He’s really been into trains and Thomas lately (aren’t all 3 year old boys?!), so for his birthday we took a trip to Strasburg, PA and spent an afternoon enjoying a Day Out with Thomas (we received complementary tickets – although we would have went regardless).
He had a blast even though he was just getting over being sick. I took a ton of photos, of course, so check them all out below and I’ll share how our day went. And if you’re looking to ride Thomas, too, there will be some info at the bottom of the post (dates, pricing, etc., for future events).
A Day out with Thomas at the Strasburg Railroad
We’re not super close to Strasburg – which is near Lancaster, PA – so we left midmorning to make it on time for our afternoon tickets. It’s a several hour drive, but completely doable and worth it. Grady watched a Thomas DVD the whole way there and Haley took her morning nap in the car, so it was a relatively easy drive.
We arrived at about lunch time and we found a spot nearby to eat our picnic lunch that we brought. There’s food at the event and even on the train – but we choose to pack a lunch since we’d be eating out for dinner. We ate lunch right next to the railroad tracks and Grady was super excited to see Thomas go by a few times! Honestly, he didn’t eat much because he was so excited. It was really a great preview of what was to come! The picture above is actually one I took while we were eating lunch. Pretty, right? I just love the farm in the background.
They have special event parking set up so you don’t have to worry about finding a spot close by. We parked in the designated Thomas parking and took the “school bus shuttle” over. It was quick and easy. We arrived just in time to pick up our tickets and hop on board Thomas!
We sat somewhere in the middle and Grady and Haley had so much fun looking out. It’s very open and breezy, and Haley was loving the wind blowing in her hair. It’s not a super long ride (only 22 minutes), but it was the perfect amount of time for a 1 and 3 year old. The train goes out and then reverses and brings you back in. The train conductor walks around and talks with you and another lady comes by to take your picture. You can purchase the photo back at the event along with other photo opportunities (with Thomas and Sir Topham Hatt). We choose not to purchase any photos since I had my own camera.
After our train ride, we spent another few hours walking around the event and checking out the Strasburg railroad. Grady enjoyed doing the cranky car thing a few times, and we rode several other small trains.
Along with the Thomas ride, there’s also another steam engine running that you can purchase tickets for. It goes for about 45 minutes – which was too long for us this time – but I think it would be fun in the future. Grady really enjoyed watching the trains come in and out of the station.
We got our picture taken in front of Thomas when he arrived at the station after one of the trips. He’s only at the station for about 10 minutes each time, so the line is pretty long, but it went so fast. I think we actually waited longer to get our picture with Sir Topham Hatt! And as you can see below – Haley did not know what to think of him!
They have a whole section of Thomas toys and activities set up. It’s like a little play area. Since Grady was just getting over being sick, we just skipped it. I didn’t want to spread any lingering germs or pick up any others – although I did see hand sanitizer stations! We did pick up a Thomas tattoo for him though!
We also didn’t even go near the Thomas merchandise tent either. Grady had just opened a few Thomas items for his birthday that morning, so he really didn’t need more! I think we spent about 2 hours walking around the event after our train ride, so plan the extra time either before or after if you go.
We took the bus shuttle back to our car and happened to see Thomas again on our way there. Doesn’t it look like he’s looking right at you?! Grady was excited to see him one more time.
Choo Choo Barn
After spending the afternoon at the Thomas event, we drove down the road a few minutes and spent some time at the Choo Choo Barn – a huge model train display! It was the largest train display I’d ever seen – even Eric was impressed (1700 sq. ft.)! It’s crazy to imagine the detail that went into it. It’s mostly O-gauge trains – which is actually what we have for Grady that runs under our Christmas tree, so it was pretty familiar for him.
Eric loved that the lights would go out periodically and then all the little house, street, and car lights would come on. It was interesting to see everything at night. Grady loved the one house that catches on fire – he watched the fire engine put it out a gazillion times. I loved that there were little live fish in the display. I’d never seen that before! And Thomas was even there, too!
The one other thing I really liked, was that there were little clues placed around the perimeter so you could search for things in the display. I would have missed so much of the detail otherwise!
Have you ever been to a Day Out with Thomas? They’re held all over – not just at the Strasburg Railroad. And model trains – aren’t they neat?
You can purchase tickets for a Day Out with Thomas at the Strasburg Railroad, on the Strasburg Railroad Website for $19 per person ages 2 and up. If you’re not in PA – check to see if there’s a Thomas Event near you here. Admission at the Choo Choo Barn is $7 for adults and $4 for kids 3-12 and you can spend as much time there as you want!
The next dates for Thomas at the Strasburg Railroad are September 14-22 and November 22-24. I think it would be fun to go again in the fall!