The following is a guest contribution to Travels With Children. You can read more from the author at her blog, “Learning As I Go“.
Mark next year’s calendar now.
“Road trip! June 20-21, 2009. Railroad Days.“
If you are within a day’s drive of Council Bluffs, Iowa and Omaha, Nebraska, you really should plan to make next year’s “Railroad Days.” What is this Railroad Days? Why should you go? What’s so special?
• $10 for two adults and unlimited dependent children
Railroad Days is a five-for-one deal. You can visit five different (mostly “train-related” attractions in the Omaha-Council Bluffs area in the two day event for only $10. Not $10 per person. But $10 per FAMILY (two adults, unlimited children). You park at one of the locations and FREE bus or TROLLEY service will take you between the other locations. Here is what the website has to say about RR Days:
“Celebrate our region’s railroad heritage and spend the day visiting some of the best railroad-themed attractions that Omaha and Council Bluffs have to offer. Explore Lauritzen Gardens, The Durham Museum, the RailsWest Railroad Museum, the Union Pacific Railroad Museum and The Historic General Dodge House. You can leave your car at any of the five locations and take free trolley service to each destination. ALL ABOARD for $10 per family!”
These attractions EACH normally cost at least $5 for each adult and $3 to $4 for each child. The event is sponsored by Union Pacific Railroad and the Iowa West Foundation with donations from a variety of other local businesses, individuals, and foundations. The third annual Railroad Days took place on July 12-13, 2008. In the follow-up installments, each attraction will be featured in “Traveling With Children” fashion.
For now, here are some general comments:
The trolleys were great, although we didn’t get to ride on any of them until the second day because of none of them were available after 2 p.m.
The ride across the Missouri River between Omaha and Council Bluffs (and back) took an hour each way. If I were to do it all over again (and what we did the second day), was ride the trolley back to the place we parked our vehicle and drive ourselves across the river. It would have been much faster. The trolleys don’t cross over, so we rode a “tour bus.” All of us would have rather rode in our own vehicle and used the saved time to pick up some cheaper food along the way.
The attractions were very diverse – some were stroller friendly and others were definitely not. Some took a fairly short time to go through and we could have stayed at a couple of the others all day long.
There was definitely some hit-and-miss on the bathrooms and water/food availability. Plan ahead, use the facilities when they are provided, and be flexible. There is some more detail in the follow-up installments.
Four of the five attractions have admission fees. Only the Union Pacific Railroad Museum is free to the public. For Railroad Days, my family of two adults and four children got into all five for only $10. It would have cost us $74 for entry to these places normally. Railroad Days is a great experience for the whole family at an even greater price!