Do you have a budding conductor in your family? Hop on board, because Long Island has your train-obsessed kids covered.
While many children enjoy watching the LIRR chug across the Island, there are many places in Nassau and Suffolk that include miniature train rides, real historic locomotive cars and model railroad clubs with free open houses.
Nassau Lionel Operating Engineers
The Nassau Lionel Operating Engineers (NLOE) is free to visit each year during the club's open house events in October, November and December. The train layout features three different levels and four main lines, which includes a harbor scene, an operating turntable and roundhouse, mountains and a yard. There's also a special Thomas the Tank Engine section for kids. NLOE has portable train layouts they share with the community, and they currently have a static public display at the Levittown Library. Check website for open house dates.
More information: 2953 Hempstead Tpk, Levittown; 516-735-6370; nloe.org.
Oyster Bay Railroad Museum
The Oyster Bay Railroad Museum boasts an array of trains and equipment meant to preserve and showcase Long Island’s locomotive heritage. Climb aboard a 1928 steam engine used for the Long Island Railroad, which became Long Island’s last steam train after 27 years of service. The museum is working to restore the historic Oyster Bay Railroad Station and Turntable, which were used by President Theodore Roosevelt when he traveled to and from his home at Sagamore Hill. The museum has a magnetic train layout, great for children to explore, as well as a stationary set up to show what Oyster Bay was like years ago when it had dirt roads. Each December, kids can check out the motorized train ride during the museum's Holiday Express event.
More information: Open Saturday and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.; 102 Audrey Ave, Oyster Bay; 516- 558-7036; obrm.org.
Both TrainLand (Long Island) and TrainWorld (Brooklyn) are popular stops for train hobbyists around the world. The layouts at both stores feature iPad-controlled and remote-controlled trains that visitors can test out. At TrainLand, kids can play with Thomas the Tank Engine trains and tracks at a special table. Both stores feature memorabilia from movies, including the Blue Comet train from an episode of "The Sopranos," and the "Polar Express" Legacy Berkshire with Bluetooth. Both stores host special seminars and events with raffles, giveaways, special displays and food. TrainWorld and TrainLand participate in National Lionel Train Day, an annual event that typically takes place in early December to celebrate the love of model trains.
More information: (TrainLand): 293 Sunrise Highway, Lynbrook; 516-599-7080; trainworld.com.
Kids of all ages are welcome to step aboard Adventureland’s train, which circles the entire amusement park in about 12 minutes. The train tops off at 15 miles per hour, can hold 96 people and is Adventureland’s original train, having been built in 1964. The ride is included with the pay-one-price unlimited rides bracelet ($33.99) or takes three single tickets ($1.50 each ticket) to ride.
More information: 2245 Broad Hollow Road, Farmingdale; 631-694-6868; adventureland.us.
Wantagh Railroad Museum
Explore the restored 1904 train station, the 1912 "Jamaica" Railroad Car and the original post office of Wantagh. The "Jamaica" was a high-end parlor car with a kitchen, air-conditioning and more. The Long Island Rail Road donated it to the Wantagh Preservation Society in 1972. In the early 1980s, the museum was added to the National Register of Historic Places. The museum is open to the public on Sundays from 2 to 4 p.m. April to November. The surrounding park is open every day during daylight hours.
More information: 516-826-8767; 1700 Wantagh Avenue, Wantagh; wantagh.li.
Long Island Live Steamers
Situated on about nine acres of forest, the Long Island Live Steamers provide rides on miniature steam trains at Southaven County Park from May through October. Kids and adults alike can ride steam, diesel and electric trains during their public run days held twice a month from 10:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. You can choose to ride the highline for a more rural ride through the park. Or, choose the groundline, and the train will depart from one of four tracks. Visitors are invited to come early (9:30 a.m.) to see the trains “steaming up.” While they don't charge for rides, they do accept donations. You'll also find a souvenir shop, a snack bar and shady picnic areas.
More information: Gerard Road, Yaphank; 631-345-0499; lilivesteamers.org.
Train Masters of Babylon Model Train Club
When the club hosts an open house, families can view a 4,000-square-foot model railroad with 10 trains running on 19 scale miles of track. There's also a notable underground subway system and waterfront setup. This model train layout was also featured in the “Blue Comet” episode of "The Sopranos." Kids of all ages can press interactive buttons to activate accessories on the layouts, but can't touch the trains. To get you to feel like a real conductor, whistles, hats and more are available for purchase. Check the website for open house dates.
More information: 120 Schmitt Blvd., Farmingdale; 516-660-8099 and 631-873-7688; tmbmodeltrainclub.com.
Central Operating Lines Model Railroad Club
Central Operating Lines Model Railroad Club is a nonprofit dedicated to promoting the joy of model railroads. It has two linear scale miles of track per line and has four main lines. They run up to 10 trains at any given time for guests to view. Central Operating Lines holds events for LI Cares and Toys for Tots, which double as open houses. Check the club's website for dates and times.
More information: 50 A Carlough Rd, Bohemia; 631-563-0173; coltrains.com.
Railroad Museum of Long Island
This interactive visitors center is on land that made up the 1880s Corwin and Vail Lumber Yard and part of the Long Island Rail Road Riverhead Yard. Guests can ride a 1964-65 New York World’s fair LIRR miniature park train, climb aboard a 1960s LIRR caboose, explore a Lionel historic layout and watch scale model trains ride indoor and outdoor tracks. The museum, in the historic LIRR 1892 freight house, shares the Greenport Historic Transportation District with a passenger station, railroad dock and turntable. Visitors can take trips between the two sites via the LIRR “Greenport Scoot” shuttle train.
Riverhead: Open May 26-Oct. 7 on Saturdays and Sundays from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Price: $10 for 13 and older, $5 for children 5-12; free for 5 and younger; 440 4th Street, Greenport; 631-477-0439.
Greenport: Open May 26-Oct. 7 on Saturdays and Sundays from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Price: $10 for 13 and older, $5 for children 5-12; free for 5 and younger; 416 Griffing Avenue, Riverhead; 631-727-7920.
More information: rmli.org.
West Island Model Railroad Club
The West Island Model Railroad Club is the only railroad club on Long Island that allows visitors to run its model trains. The club's track, with realistic lights and sounds, is large enough to walk around as kids and adults control the trains with remotes. Check website for open house dates. There is a $12 suggested donation per family. The club will welcome a couple of guests on a Friday night as long as they call ahead.
More information: 485 South Broadway Unit 22A, Hicksville; 516-433- 6600; westislandmodelrailroadclub.com.
The Long Island Model Railroad Engineers
The Long Island Model Railroad Engineers was founded in 1971. The club operates two railroading systems with tracks spanning more than 2,000 square feet and featuring multiple divisions and large yards. Check the club's website for open house dates and times.
More information: 3661 Horseblock Road, Unit P, Medford; 631-345-3415; limrre.com.