Jackson Street Roundhouse
193 Pennsylvania Ave. E., St. Paul, MN. 651-228-0263. www.mtmuseum.org/jsrh.shtml
$5 ages 2 and up, additional $2 for caboose ride. Special events have different rates. Free parking. Stroller accessible. Restrooms available.
You may have noticed that we manage to find quite a few train-related places to visit. With two young Thomas-loving boys, we enjoy locations that have trains, big and small. When our younger son turned four, our family outing was to the Jackson Street Roundhouse in St. Paul, which just happened to be hosting Santa’s Train Shop.
We ate an early lunch and arrived at the roundhouse shortly before noon. This turned out to be a good time, as it had been very busy in the morning, and the crowds started to pick up again mid-afternoon. We had purchased tickets online before we left home, fearing that there were a limited number available, but the online purchase fees were not really necessary for a visit to the Roundhouse. I suppose the advance online orders are more important for the railway rides from Osceola and Dresser, Wisconsin, which are operated by the same organization.
Inside the roundhouse, we had a number of options. Our 4-year-old loved the Lego model train setup, and if we lost sight of him for a second, that’s where he could be found. Santa and Mrs. Claus were there to talk to children, and Mrs. Claus led storytime in a passenger car in the museum. As a family, we boarded a train for a short and sweet ride up and down the tracks, and later the birthday boy and his dad went back and were given a special peek at the engine as a birthday treat. Several rail cars were on display, and play train tables and other activities were available for the kids.
I enjoyed browsing in the gift area, which has a nice selection of toys and other train memorabilia, and we all enjoyed popcorn and hot chocolate which were available for a reasonable price. Our not-yet-walking baby dusted the floor with her pants because she didn’t want to be left out of the excitement.
We spent several hours at the Jackson Street Roundhouse, and it’s another place where the kids want to go again. Stroller accessibility is good except for on the actual train ride. If you go and aren’t familiar with the area, follow the web site’s directions for getting there. It’s just a little off the beaten path but the directions given are very good.
I really liked going on the train ride. It was fun, even though it didn’t go very far. I also liked doing the red light thing.