ZooLights at the Smithsonian National Zoo in DC!

Join the thousands of visitors who make ZooLights a part of their annual holiday tradition. A free event, ZooLights includes live music performances, tasty winter treats, and plenty of opportunities for holiday shopping. More than 500,000 environmentally-friendly LED lights transform the Zoo into a winter wonderland complete with a dazzling light show set to music!

Thaw your paws in the animal exhibit buildings and see the nocturnal critters! The Small Mammal House, Reptile Discovery Center, and Think Tank are open every night.

Rides and attractions include:
– The Smithsonian’s National Zoo Choo-Choo: take a merry tour through the Zoo on a trackless train that whisks guests all around the Great Cats exhibit and features gorgeous views of the Zoo’s holiday light displays.
– Snow-less Tubing: take the plunge down one of our 150-foot-long tracks—no snow necessary! (weather permitting)
– Speedwell Foundation Conservation Carousel: hop on to your choice of 58 animal figurines, as the carousel highlights the Zoo’s incredible research and success stories. As one of the few carousels in the world powered by solar energy, thanks to a generous donation by Pepco Energy Services, the carousel is a new spin on conservation.

Ride Tickets are available for purchase at the Zoo for $3 each; 1 ride per ticket. Family Packs are available for purchase online or at the Zoo for $20 for 8 tickets; 1 ride per ticket.

All Aboard! Trains Near You That Your Kid Will Love!

All Aboard! Trains Near You That Your Kid Will Love!
By, Charlene Chuquillanqui, Contributor

Since the early 1800s, trains have awed both adults and children. Although not the most popular mode of transportation nowadays, trains continue to captive us by exemplifying power, adventure, and history. Sitting and relaxing on a train chugging along on a track can be a splendid experience! Do you have a little one that’s obsessed with trains? Does your whole family love riding on trains? If so, take a look below! We’ve complied an extensive list of toddler-friendly trains near four metropolitan areas including the Washington, DC metro area, Philadelphia, Boston, Palm Beach County, and Houston. Whether on a full-sized vintage steam locomotive or an extra miniature replica train, these train rides can make for a great family day out!

To get even more into the railroading spirit, wear train-themed attire to take your train ride! We suggesthat wearing the classic conductorOveralls hat, overalls, and a red bandana. The website, Train Party, offers inexpensive train apparel for adults and toddlers; follow this link to an Adult Senior Railroad Engineer Kit (hat, bandana, & whistle) for under $10. Also, Amazon has some great deals on train apparel. Here’s a link for a Little Engineer Set (hat, bandana, & whistle) for under $10. You can also find adult overalls for as low as $29 on Amazon as well. Examples can be seen here and here. Cute Oshkosh striped toddler overalls can currently be found online at Kohl’s for only $13.60 too!

We hope the train ride options on this list will get your little conductor singing “choo choo”!

Washington, DC, Maryland, and Northern Virginia
Miniature Train at Wheaton Regional Park
Address: 2002 Shorefield Rd, Wheaton, MD 20902wheaton
Phone: (301)-563-7546
Links: Website and Facebook
A personal favorite of mine when I was a child, this mini replica of an 1863 C.P. Huntington 4-2-4T steam locomotive offers a delightful, scenic 12-minute ride in Wheaton Regional Park. Tickets cost just $2 per person and children under 2 years old are free, which makes this mini train perfect to ride with little ones! The train is opened April – September, as well as during some dates in October with its Halloween-themed “Haunted Train”. Be sure to check out its website and Facebook for hours of operation, party room rental packages, and more!

Miniature Train at Cabin John Regional Park
Address: 7410 Tuckerman Lane, Rockville, MD 20852
Phone: (301) 765-8670cabin john
Link: Website
Just like the mini train in Wheaton Regional Park, Cabin John Regional Park’s train is also a mini replica of an 1863 C.P. Huntington 4-2-4T steam locomotive. It journeys 2 miles through Cabin John Regional Park, providing riders with about a 15-minute scenic ride. Like in Wheaton, tickets are just $2 per person, while children under 2 years old ride for free! The open season begins around April and runs through September. It’s also open for select dates in October for its “Eye Spy Halloween Train”, which is a less scary, more kid-friendly Halloween train compared to Wheaton’s “Haunted Train”. Check out its website to learn more about its hours of operation, party room rental packages, and more!

B&O Railroad Museum
Address: 901 West Pratt St, Baltimore, MD 21223B&O
Phone: (410) 752- 2490
Links: Website, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram
In Baltimore, you’ll find the most significant railroad collection in America. The B&O Railroad Museum, the birthplace of American railroading, encapsulates history, education, and fun! The museum possesses a large display of locomotives and rolling stock, small artifacts, railroading buildings and structures, and much more! Families can board the Mile One Express and enjoy a 20-minute round trip along the 1st commercial mile of railroad track laid in America. Train rides are offered Thursday – Sunday, April – December and weekends in January. Small children can also enjoy their own 3-minute ride aboard a kiddie train in Choo Choo Blueville, a tiny fictional town! The museum also offers a plethora of events and programs every month that are perfect for little ones. For instance, Princess Train Rides are coming up this September! Children can dress up in themed costumes to take a ride aboard a royally decorated train with princesses like Elsa and Ana! Museum admission prices are $18 for adults and $12 for children (2-12); train ride tickets are an additional cost of $3 per adult and $2 per children (2-12). Be sure to visit B&O Railroad Museum’s website or social media to learn more about admission tickets, weekend passes, hours of operations, special events, kids programs, facility rentals, and everything else the museum offers!

The National Capital Trolley Museum
Address: 1313 Bonifant Rd, Colesville, MD 20905Capital Trolley
Phone: (301) 384-6088
Links: Website and Facebook
While you won’t see a steam locomotive, the National Capital Trolley Museum features a preserved collection of historic streetcars in Washington, DC. Opened every weekend year round, the museum offers visitors the chance to take a 20-minute ride in a vintage streetcar through the woods of Montgomery County. Special events like Pumpkin TrolleyFest, which includes a trip to Pinson’s Pumpkin Market, and Holly TrolleyFest, which includes a ride with Santa, are perfect for kids! Admission for adults (18-64) is $7 and admission for children and seniors (2-17, 65+) is $5. Admission includes museum displays, docent-led tours, and unlimited streetcar rides! To learn more about what the museum offers, check out its website and Facebook!

Miniature Train at Watkins Regional Park
Address: 301 Watkins Park Dr, Upper Marlboro, MD 20774Watkins
Phone: (301) 218-6700
Link: Website
This mini C.P. Huntington replica located in PG County’s colorful Watkins Regional Park offers passengers the chance to ride through the woodlands of the park and even see a close-up view of Old Maryland Farm, an agricultural educational farm open to the public. For residents of PG or Montgomery County, tickets are $2 per person of any age, while non-residents tickets are $2.50 per person of any age. Summer hours run Tuesday – Saturday. Check out its website or give Watkins Regional Park a call for more details on hours of operation, birthday party packages, and more!

Walkersville Southern Railroad
Address: 34 W Pennsylvania Ave, Walkersville, MD 21793Walkersville
Phone: (301) 898-0899
Links: Website and Facebook
Located in Walkersville, MD, about an hour northwest from Washington, DC, the Walkersville Southern Railroad features vintage passengers cars from the 1920s and open flatcars that travel over track that the Pennsylvania Railroad originally built in 1872. Taking your little one on a Walkersville Southern Railroad excursion will allow them to feel a sense of history and adventure! Passengers on regular excursions are offered an hour and 10 minute scenic ride through Maryland farm country. Regular trains run weekends, May-October, with charters and special trains running all year. Special event, holiday trains include Santa trains, Bunny trains, and more! Your little one will also enjoy activities like Teddy Bear Picnic and Superhero Picnic, which include a train ride and a stop in the park for lunch and story time. Additionally, on select dates, special steam train rides on an 80-year-old coal-fired steam locomotive are offered! Excursion fares are $12 for adults, $11 for seniors (55+), and $8 for children (3-12); children under 3 are free unless occupying a seat. Special event excursions have an increased charge. To learn more about Walkersville Southern Railroad’s regular or special event excursions, museum, dinner trains, birthday party packages, hours of operation, and more, check out its website or Facebook!

Chesapeake & Allegheny Live Steamers
Address: 1950 Eagle Drive, Gwynn Oak, MD 21207chesapeake
Phone: (410) 448-0730
Links: Website and Facebook
A little over an hour from Washington, DC, you’ll find a collection of extra miniature trains. The Chesapeake & Allegheny Live Steam Club, a Baltimore nonprofit, offers the public free rides on their model trains the second Sunday of each month from April – November! Located in Baltimore’s Leakin Park, the club allows adults and children to delight in miniature versions of the great mode of transportation of America’s past. To learn more about the Chesapeake & Allegheny Live Steamers, check out their website and Facebook!

Western Maryland Scenic Railroad
Address: 13 Canal St, Cumberland, MD 21502west md
Phone: (240) 920-6273
Links: Website, Facebook, and Twitter
Located a little over 2 hours from Washington, DC, Baltimore, and Pittsburg, the Western Maryland Scenic Railroad offers rides around Maryland’s mountain country with their Mountain Limited Trains. On-board narrators will provide passengers with historical facts and information about cultural locations along the route. Specialty Trains excursions that are great for kids include Royal Rails Weekend, which welcomes passengers to dress up as royalty! Also, a holiday train ride, the North Pole Experience, is a great way for children to enjoy the holiday spirit and visit with Santa! Fares for the Mountain Limited scenic round trip range from $40 for an adult coach ticket to $80 for an adult 1st class ticket. Children tickets (0-12) range from $21 for coach to $35 for 1st class. Specialty train excursions have pricier fares. There are specials rates and deals offered for passengers as well. Check out the Western Maryland Scenic Railroad’s website and social media for more details on fares, excursion trains, events calendar, rentals, and more!

Miniature Train at Burke Lake Park
Address: 7315 Ox Rd, Fairfax Station, VA 22039burke lake
Phone: (703) 323-6600
Link: Website
This miniature C.P. Huntington steam engine travels over 1.75 miles in Virginia’s beautiful Burke Lake Park, offering passengers a fun 10-minute ride. It operates April – September, as well as some dates in October as “Ghost Train”. Burke Lake Park charges no entrance fee for Fairfax County residents, weekdays – weekends. For non-county residents, there is no charge on weekdays; however, there is a charge for non-county residents on weekends and holidays, April – late October. The entrance fee is $10 per car. Tickets for the miniature train cost $3 on weekdays and $4 on weekends and holidays. Riders under the age of 2 years old ride for free! To learn more, check out its website!

Philadelphia, PA
West Chester Railroad
Address: 230 E Market St, West Chester, PA 19382west chester
Phone: (610) 430-2233
Links: Website and Facebook
About 40 minutes from Philly, the West Chester Railroad, offers a variety of delightfully scenic 90-minute train rides along the Chester Creek Valley in Southeastern Pennsylvania. All trains make a 20-minute stop at the historic Glen Mills station, where passengers may explore the station and a picnic grove along the Chester Creek before heading back to West Chester. Year round, there are several special events offered that are perfect for families like the Summer Picnic Special, Fall Foliage Express, Santa Express, Easter Bunny Express, and Mother’s and Father’s Day Express! Tickets for adults are $15 and children (2-12) are $13; toddlers under 2 ride for free! Be sure to visit West Chester Railroad’s website or Facebook to learn more hours of operation, ticket prices, special events, party rentals, and more!

New Hope and Ivyland Railroad
Address: 32 W Bridge St, New Hope, PA 18938ivyland
Phone: (215) 862-2332
Links: Website, Facebook, and Twitter
A visit to New Hope and Ivyland railroad will allow you to explore the rolling hills and valleys of historic Bucks County, Pennsylvania. Adults and children can discover what it was like to travel in the past while riding in a restored 1920s vintage passenger coach, antique bar car, steam locomotive, or a historic diesel locomotive. Special events and hourly excursions that are great for families include Firefly Express, where adults and children enjoy story-telling, firefly sighing and firefly facts at night, Wildflower Express Train, which includes live narration and a chance for children to throw their own wildflower seeds from their windows, Song & Story Hour Trains, Family Dinner or Sunday Brunch Trains, hourly excursions, and much more! Fare prices vary with your choice of coach, 1st class, or open-air seating. Hourly excursion and special event excursions fare prices differ, along with adult, children (2-11), and toddler (under 2) tickets as well. Be sure to visit New Hope and Ivyland Railroad’s website for detailed information on specific ticket costs, private charters, birthday party packages, and upcoming events.

Colebrookdale Railroad
Address: E 3rd St, Boyertown, PA 19512colebrookdale
Phone: (610) 367-0200
Links: Website, Facebook, and Twitter
Colebrookdale Railroad, located about an hour from Philly, provides an historic and scenic ride in Southeastern Pennsylvania. A variety of train rides are offered for visitors like the Secret Valley Expedition, an hour and 45 minute ride into the beautiful Secret Valley. There are also fun family-friendly excursions like Autumn Splendor-Hayride on Rails, Bonfire Train, Night Before Christmas Train, Santa Claus Train, Winter Starlight Express, Easter Bunny Train, Mudball Express, Mother’s Day Tea Train, Father’s Day Special, and more! Ticket prices vary with the choice of deluxe coach, café car, parlor car, or loco cab seating; prices for adults (13-64), children (0-12), and seniors (65+) vary as well. Check out Colebrookdale’s website for specific ticket costs, excursion details, party packages, and everything else it has to offer!

Strasburg Rail Road
Address: 301 Gap Rd, Ronks, PA 17572Strasburg2
Phone: (866) 725-9666
Links:Website, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram
The Strasburg Rail Road, America’s oldest short-line railroad with turn-of-the-century steam locomotives, offers visitors rides through beautiful Amish countryside to Paradise, PA and back. Regular train excursions, which are about 45-minute in length, are a great family experience. Regular train ticket prices range from $14 for adults and $8 for children (2-11) aboard beautifully restored Victorian style coach cars to $20 a ticket per adult or child (0-11) for Victorian 1st class parlor or lounge car seating. Dinner Trains featuring an Amish feast and Dining Cars featuring a “hobo lunch” are also available and great for kids. A variety of special event excursions are also offered. Your little train lover will definitely enjoy the Day Out with Thomas Event, which includes a 20-minute train ride with Thomas the Tank Engine, as well as loads of other Thomas & Friends activities! Tickets are $21 for ages 2 and up and those under 2 are free. Percy Packages for $27 a ticket are also available. Other special event excursions include the Easter Bunny Train, Christmas Tree Train, Santa’s Paradise Express, and The Night Before Christmas Train. Be sure to check out Strasburg Rail Road’s website or social media for details on operating schedules, events, ticket prices, passes, party packages, and more!

Lehigh Gorge Scenic Railway
Address: 1 Susquehanna St, Jim Thorpe, PA 18229Lehigh
Phone: (610) 562-2102
Links: Website and Facebook
About an hour and a half trip from Philly, the Lehigh Gorge Scenic Railway features relaxing rides in vintage coaches, built as early as 1917, which are pulled by diesel or steam engines. The scenic train rides, operating May – December, follows the Lehigh River, through Glen Onoko, and into the Lehigh Gorge State Park. Rides are about 70 minutes in length, with the expectation of October train rides, which are 45 minutes in length. Several special event trips are also offered like Easter Train Trips, PA Dutch Treat Train, Autumn Leaf Trips, Santa Claus Specials, Winterfest Trains, and more! Tickets for regular, standard coach rides cost $13 per adult and $9 per child (3-12); children under 3 receive a free ticket! For regular open-air coach seating, tickets cost $18 per adult, $10 per child (3-12), and free for children under 3. Costs for special event trips vary. Be sure to check out Lehigh Gorge Scenic Railway’s website and social media to learn more!

Wanamaker, Kempton and Southern Railroad
Address: 42 Community Center Dr, Kempton, PA 19529wanamaker
Phone: (610) 756-6469
Links: Website and Facebook
The Wanamaker, Kempton, & Southern Railroad offers scenic rides aboard locomotives built as early as 1914 with their regularly scheduled train trips and special event trips. Trains operate May-November and offer passengers a beautiful 40-minute round trip through farmland and forests. Regular train ride tickets cost $10 for adults (12+), $5 for children (3-11), and free for children 2 and under. Regular train ride tickets include unlimited all day rides! Special events tickets are one-ride only tickets. Special events that are great for kids include the Harvest Moon Special, Fall Foliage Excursion, Pumpkin Patch Train, Halloween Spooktacular, Story Time with Mrs. Claus, and Kids’ Fun Weekend. Special event ticket prices vary. To learn more about special events, reservations, group rates, and more, check out the Wanamaker, Kempton, & Southern Railroad online!

Steam Into History
Address: 2 W Main St, New Freedom, PA 17349steam history
Phone: (717) 942-2370
Links: Website and Facebook
Steam into History, about 2 hours from Philly and Washington, DC, is a non-profit organization that features a 1860s replica steam train. The coaches of the train are also newly built, but resemble 1860s construction. The steam train chronicles the Civil War history of York County, as a replica of the locomotive that carried Abraham Lincoln to deliver his famous Gettysburg Address; the tracks are also the ones that carried Lincoln’s funeral train two years later. Opened in 2013, Steam into History offers visitors narrated, history-filled round trips to Glen Rock and Hanover Junction. The Glen Rock Express is a one-hour round-trip and the Hanover Junction Limited is a 2 and a half hour round-trip with a 20- 30-minute stop at Hanover Junction, where passengers can get off the train. Tickets for Glen Rock are $23 on weekdays and $26 on weekends for adults and $15 weekends and weekdays for children (3-13); children under 3 are free if held in lap! The Hanover Junction trip costs $3 more for adults and $1 more for children (3-13). There are also special events that are perfect for little ones like the Reading Express from Glen Rock Library, American Girl Tea Party, Pumpkin Train, Fall Foliage Glen Rock Express, Christmas Tree Train, Santa Sing-a-long Caroling Express, and so much more! Special event ticket prices vary. Check out Steam into History online to learn more about all they have to offer!

Boston, MA
Edaville USA
Address: 5 Pine St, Carver, MA 02330Edaville
Phone: (508) 866-8190
Links: Website, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram
Edaville USA is a little train lover’s paradise. This amusement park, with 3 different park areas in 1, is loaded with several train-themed attractions. Particularly, in the Thomas Land theme park, visitors have the chance to explore Knapford Station, Tidmouth Sheds, and have fun on 11 different Thomas & Friends rides. Most importantly, visitors can enjoy a 20-minute train ride on a life-sized Thomas the Tank Engine as he travels around Edaville and scenic cranberry bogs! Edaville USA’s seasons run from May-January and special events are planned throughout the year. Admission tickets can be purchased online at $34 (ages 4 & over) and $29 (ages 2-3 & 60+). Tickets can also be purchased at the gate for $3 more. And admission includes access to over 90 rides & attractions! Check out Edaville USA online for more details on their fantastic amusement park!

Cape Cod Central Railroad
Address: 252 Main St, Hyannis, MA 02601cape cod
Phone: (508) 771-3800
Links: Website, Facebook, and Twitter
A little over an hour from Boston, the Cape Cod Central Railroad offers classic, narrated train rides through woodlands, sand dunes, cranberry bogs, and salt marshes. Train rides run from May – October and are about 2 hours in length. Families can enjoy train rides like the Coastal Excursion Train, Colonial Lunch Train, Thanksgiving Dinner Train, or Yankee Clipper Brunch Train. Tickets for Coastal Excursion Trains range from $44 for standard class adult tickets to $47 for diamond class (upper dome) adults tickets. Children tickets (2-12) range from $17 for standard class to $42 for diamond class (upper dome). Boxed lunches are available to be purchased for the Coastal Excursion Trains as well. Specialty trains with served meals vary in price. Cape Cod Central Railroad also offers their Polar Express Train Ride, where kids can wear their pajamas and delight in the holiday spirit with hot cocoa, cookies, storytelling, music, and Santa & elves! The Polar Express Train Ride departs from the Buzzards Bay Depot and lasts about an hour. Prices vary from choice of standard class, 1st class, or diamond class seating. Be sure to check out Cape Cod Central Railroad’s website and social media to learn more about train rides, schedule, fares, classes of service, group occasions, and more!

South Florida
Tradewinds & Atlantic Railroad
Address: 3600 W Sample Rd, Coconut Creek, FL 33066tradewinds
Phone: (954) 494-6877
Links: Website and Facebook
In Tradewinds Park, about 40 minutes from Palm Beach County, you’ll find one-eighth life-size trains that you can ride monthly on a half-mile track along a scenic lake. The Tradewinds & Atlantic Railroad, a nonprofit club, dedicates their time exploring the history of railroads and mechanical engineering. They set out to educate both adults and children all about the importance of railroading! Train rides are offered on Saturdays and Sundays on the third complete weekend of each month. The mini trains are run by steam, batteries, or small gas engines. Tickets cost just $1.50 per person, regardless of age. Tradewinds Park admission is also $1.50 per person on weekends and holidays. There are also birthday train reservations available! Check out Tradewinds & Atlantic Railroad online to learn more about their organization, train schedule, and more!

Gold Coast Railroad Museum
Address: 12450 SW 152nd St, Miami, FL 33177goldcoast
Phone: (305) 253-0063
Links: Website, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram
About an hour and half south in Miami, the Gold Coast Railroad Museum features over 40 historic railcars. Visitors can explore these historic and restored cars, exhibitions, a model train display, and Thomas the Tank Engine play tables. Train rides are also offered on the weekends for your family to enjoy. And every 1st Saturday of the month, the museum opens its doors to all visitors for a free day! Regular admission costs $8 for adults and $6 for children (2-11). Train rides aboard diesel locomotives or diesel-electric locomotives vary from $6 per person for all ages to $12 per person for all ages for a 25-minute ride. The museum also hosts special events like Day Out With Thomas, when families can take a 25-minute ride and enjoy Thomas-themed activities. There is also the Polar Express Train Ride to bring in the holiday spirit, which includes a 45-minute round trip, holiday treats, Santa, and more! Ticket prices vary for special events. Check out Gold Coast Railroad Museum online or by phone to learn more about the museum collection, admission, train rides, special events, and more!

Houston, TX
Miniature Train at Hermann Park Railroad
Address: 6102 Hermann Park Dr, Houston, TX 77030hermann park
Phone: (713) 524-5876
Link: Website
The beautiful Hermann Park in Houston features a replica C.P. Huntington miniature train. At the Hermann Park Railroad, visitors can enjoy a 2-mile, 18-minute train journey. Riders of all ages will love all the sights and sounds the ride offers around the park! There are three different stops along the railroad, where riders are allowed to hop on or off. Stops are close to the Houston Museum of Natural Science, the Texas Medical Center, and Rice University areas. Rides run Monday-Sunday and tickets cost just $3.50 per person, 1 year and older. You also have the option of purchasing an all day pass on weekdays for $7. Gift tickets, private rentals, and special kid train programs are also available. Be sure to check out Hermann Park Railroad online or by phone to learn more!

Shark Voyage Train at Downtown Aquarium, Houston
Address: 410 Bagby St, Houston, TX 77002Shark voyage
Phone: (713) 223-3474
Link: Website
At Houston’s Downtown Aquarium, you’ll find a miniature C.P. Huntington train that can take you and your little one through the center of a 200,000-gallon tank for an up-close view of sharks! The train ride will make a stop under a tunnel where a variety of different shark species can be watched from your train seat! Tickets for the Aquarium Adventure Exhibit cost $11.99 for adults, $9.99 for seniors (65+), $8.99 for children (under 42”), and children under 2 are free. Individual tickets for the Shark Voyage are $5.99. Visitors also have the option of purchasing All-Day Adventure Passes for $19.99, which includes one-day unlimited access to all rides and the Aquarium Adventure Exhibit! To learn more about the aquarium, the Shark Voyage train, and more, check out the aquarium online or by phone.

Miniature Train at Old MacDonald’s Farm
Address: 3203 Farm to Market 1960, Humble, TX 77338old mcdonald
Phone: (281) 446-4001
Links: Website and Facebook
Old MacDonald’s Farm, about 30 minutes from Houston, is a 15-acre outdoor park for both kids and adults to enjoy. Apart from the petting zoo, pony rides, swimming pool, and other fun activities, the farm offers train rides aboard a miniature train. All activities at the farm are included with the admission fee of $10.75. Babies under 18 months are free! The farm is open daily from February – November, and on weekends December – January. Family outings, birthday parties, and group events can be hold at the farm as well! Visit Old MacDonald’s Farm online or give them a call to learn more about what they have to offer!

Houston Area Live Steamers at Zube Park
Address: 17560 Roberts Rd, Hockley, TX 77447zube park
Phone: (281) 758-8012
Links: Website and Facebook
Zube Park in Hockley, about 40 minutes from Houston, features the Houston Area Live Steamers’ track and their special public run days, when they allow the public to ride on their life-sized model trains! The members of Houston Area Live Steamers share their love of model trains with the community by offering free rides on the 3rd Saturday of the month, March-November. All ages are welcome to ride! Check out Houston Area Live Steamers online to learn more about their organization, trains, public run days, and more!

Miniature Train at Oil Ranch
Address: 23501 Macedonia Rd, Hockley, TX 77447oil ranch
Phone: (281) 859-1616
Links: Website and Twitter
Hockley’s Oil Ranch features over 50 acres of fun, kid friendly activities like pony rides, hayrides, a petting zoo, a swimming pool, a jumping pillow, and so much more! More importantly, for your little train lover, they offer rides around the ranch on their Oil Express. Train riders get to see the ranch’s windmill and take a journey past a lake filled with fish. The Oil Ranch also offers Santa’s Ranch Express, which allows adults and children to enjoy the Christmas season with a train ride and other activities. Birthday parties and family reunions can also be held at the ranch! Admission costs $15.95 per person (24 months+). Admission includes all of the regular ranch activities except mining and paintball. Group rates are also available. Visit the Oil Ranch online or give them a call to learn more!

Miniature Train at Kemah Boardwalk
Address: 215 Kipp Ave, Kemah, TX 77565kemah
Phone: (877) 285-3624
Links: Website
The Kemah Boardwalk is a theme park attraction located about 45 minutes from Houston. Visitors can enjoy an array of rides and amusements. For little train lovers, there is a replica of an 1863 C.P. Huntington train! The train takes its passengers around the entire boardwalk and allows them to see a fabulous ocean view. Tickets for the train ride cost $5. All day ride passes are available for $18.99 for those under 48” and $24.99 passes for those 48” and over. To learn more about the miniature train ride and other Kemah Boardwalk attractions, visit their website or give them a call!

Galveston Railroad Museum
Address: 2602 Sante Fe Pl, Galveston, TX 77550Galveston
Phone: (409) 765-5700
Links: Website and Facebook
An hour away from Houston, the Galveston Railroad Museum features incredible exhibits of rolling stock, railroad memorabilia and history, model railroad layouts, and more! Additionally, the museum offers 15-minute train rides aboard their Harborside Express on most Saturdays. Museum admission costs $10 for adults (13+), $8 for seniors (60+), and $5 for children (4+); children 3 and under are free. Saturday train rides are an additional $5 for passengers 2 and over; infants 1 and under ride for free. The museum also hosts several special events! Check them out online or contact them by phone to learn more!

National Donut Day

National Donut Day is upon us.

A History: Celebrated exclusively in the United States, National Donut Day is on the first Friday of June each year. The annual event originated in 1938 as a Great Depression fundraiser by the Chicago Salvation Army to honor women who served donuts to soldiers in World War I.

Places to get your Free Donut

Dunkin Donuts: Get a FREE classic donut with any beverage purchase

Krispy Kreme: Get a FREE donut of your choice

Duck Donuts: Free sugar donut

Fractured Prune: Each customer gets a FREE donut of your choice

38 Places to Teach your Kids to Swim in Washington DC, Maryland, and Virginia

38 Places to Teach your Kids to Swim in Washington DC, Maryland, and Virginia

One of the 6245 pieces of parenting advice that Baby_divingmy mother told me that you probably heard too is that swim lessons at an early age is required. Failure to do swim lessons can clearly result in any number of horrible incidents and thus by taking swim lessons you avoid a good portion of them. While I now seriously call into question many of the statements my mother told me while growing up such as eating Halloween candy before bed will give me nightmares or eating my carrots will give me great eyesight, my mom and yours was right that swim education is very important. Drowning is the leading cause of accidental death in the U.S. among kids under 5 and that it only takes 2 inches of water for a child to drown in. Now that you are as sufficiently freighted as I am and want to sign your tot up for swim classes as soon as humanly possible, we compiled a list of swim classes for kids, toddlers, and babies in Washington DC, Northern Virginia, and Maryland to help find the right class for you. Let us know if there are any additional classes we should add.

Wilson Aquatic CenterWilson
Information: The Wilson Aquatic Center is DC’s premier indoor aquatic facility. The center offers one large swimming pool 50 meters by 25 yards, one leisure pool, one whirlpool, men’s and women’s locker rooms, a viewing gallery, and much more. They have a number of different programs for toddlers and small children that introduces water safety and fun
Address: 1250 U Street, NW, Washington, DC 20009
Website: http://app.dpr.dc.gov/dprmap/details.asp?cid=3

Washington DC JCCJCC
Information: The Washington DC JCC offers swim classes and water safety training for kids ranging from 4 months to 5 years old depending upon skill and interest. Early swim education requires a caregiver to join the child in the water. The JCC also offers private swim classes for kids 3 years old and above.
Address: 1529 16th St NW, Washington, DC 20036
Ages: 4 months+
Website: http://washingtondcjcc.org/sport-and-fitness/aquatics/

YMCA of Metropolitan WashingtonYMCA
Information: The YMCA stands out as one of the most popular places kids have learned to swim. Preschool swim lessons teach children valuable life skills, including personal safety, personal growth, stroke development, rescue, water sports, and games. YMCA swim lessons focus on positive values in a fun and caring atmosphere and Preschool swim lessons teach basic skills progressing through four levels. In addition to preschool swim, the YMCA offers great classes for getting your baby comfortable in the water (and you comfortable with taking them in).
Address: Multiple
Ages: 6 months +
Website: http://www.ymcadc.org/programs.cfm?core=04

Lowell SchoolLesson
Information: Whether you are part of the community of Lowell families or just a member of the community, the Lowell school welcomes all. Their staff of highly qualified lifeguards, swim instructors, and maintenance personnel make their program exceptional. Swim classes are small in size, setting the stage for maximum progress.
Address: 1640 Kalmia Rd NW, Washington, DC 20012
Ages: 6 months +
Website: http://www.Lowellschool.org

British Swim School- MarylandBritish Swim
Information: One of the largest swim programs in the DMV, the British Swim School rents out private pools (usually sports clubs or hotel pools) for its award winning lesson programs. Their classes range from introducing infants to the water to reduce fear, water survival, and having fun! With the exception of their infant class, all other classes for kids are limited to 4 students.
Locations in Maryland:
6711 Democracy Boulevard, Bethesda, MD, 20817
2500 Research Boulevard, Rockville, MD, 20850
16601 Roundabout Drive, Gaithersburg, MD, 20878
602 Quince Orchard Road, Gaithersburg, MD, 20878
324 Copley Place, Gaithersburg, MD, 20878
20025 Century Boulevard, Germantown, MD, 20874
20500 Seneca Meadows Parkway, Germantown, MD, 20874
11010 Veirs Mill Road, Wheaton, MD, 20902
8727 Colesville Road, Silver Spring, MD, 20910
Ages: 3 months +
Website: http://britishswimschool.com

Kennedy Shriver Aquatic CenterKennedy S
Information: Eunice Kennedy Shriver and Sargent Shriver Aquatic Center is conveniently located in North Bethesda near the White Flint Metro station and the 1-270 corridor. The Center provides a variety of recreational water activities for all ages. Their pool features include: an 8-lane L-shaped main pool, divided into two 25-meter swim areas, a warm water leisure pool, two separate hydrotherapy pools, a 10-meter diving platform an interior water slide, exercise room, locker and shower facilities, saunas, lighted outdoor jogging trail. We personally put our tot through swim classes here and were very impressed by the facility, staff, and cost!
Address: 5900 Executive Boulevard, N. Bethesda, MD
Ages: 3 months +
Website: http://www.montgomerycountymd.gov/rec/thingstodo/aquatics/montgomery.html

Martin Luther King, Jr. Swim Center (Indoor Pool)MLK
Information: The Martin Luther King, Jr. Swim Center is located in the Colesville-White Oak area conveniently located near Rt. 29 and the Beltway. Our swim center includes an eight-lane 25-meter stretch pool with a movable bulkhead, allowing for a separate diving area, diving boards and a five-meter platform, a Teach Pool for children and a hydrotherapy pool. The facility promotes health and exercise opportunities, teaches life-time water skills, provides a social outlet for our customers and is completely handicapped accessible. The MLK Pool is fully programmed daily and on weekends. There are times available for lap swimming, recreational swimming, water fitness classes, swimming lessons, kayaking, lifeguard training, water safety and lifeguard instructor courses, CPR and much more!
Address: 1201 Jackson Road, Silver Spring, Maryland
Ages: 3 months +
Website: http://www.montgomerycountymd.gov/rec/thingstodo/aquatics/martin.html

Martin Luther King, Jr. Outdoor PoolMLK Outdoor
Information: This facility features a six lane, 50-meter L-shaped Main Pool, with an eight lane, 25-meter course into the diving area, which offers one half-meter and one-meter boards. The separate Leisure Pool consists of a shallow water lagoon with slides and water play features, surrounded by a circular “Lazy River” for riding inner tubes with the current. A separate Tot Pool and lawn areas with shade structures.
Address: 1201 Jackson Road, Silver Spring, Maryland
Ages: 6 months+
Website: http://www.montgomerycountymd.gov/rec/thingstodo/aquatics/outdoor.html

Piney Branch Public PoolPiney
Information: For more than 40 years, Piney Branch Pool in Takoma Park has served a diverse and intricate area of southern Montgomery County. The 25-yard indoor pool, which is attached to Piney Branch Elementary, is home for recreational swimmers, swim lessons, seniors, scuba lessons, kayak clubs, water fitness and high school swim teams. The facility averages around 1,600 visitors a month. The pool features six lanes at a depth of 3.5 to 10.5 meters, plus two slides and backstroke flags. The water temperature remains at 85 degrees. The pool is also available for private rental events. Piney Branch Pool is operated by the Adventist Community Services of Greater Washington in conjunction with Montgomery County Recreation.
Address: 7510 Maple Avenue, Takoma Park, Maryland
Ages: 6 months +
Website: http://www.montgomerycountymd.gov/rec/thingstodo/aquatics/piney.html

Germantown Outdoor PoolGermantown
Information: Facilities include an eight lane, 25-meter Main Pool with one-meter and diving boards, a separate Leisure Pool featuring two water slides and two cross walk features, Tot Pool, snack bar, bathhouse, and lawn areas. For specific class information, please contact the pool or checkout the website.
Address: 18905 Kingsview Drive, Germantown, Maryland
Ages: 6 months +
Website: http://www.montgomerycountymd.gov/rec/thingstodo/aquatics/outdoor.html

Long Branch Outdoor PoolLongbranch
Information: Includes a six lane, L-shaped 25-meter Main Pool, a Teach Pool, a Tot Pool, and a snack bar, bathhouse and lawn areas. For specific class information, please contact the pool or checkout the website.
Address: 8700 Piney Branch Road, Silver Spring, Maryland
Ages: 6 months +
Website: http://www.montgomerycountymd.gov/rec/thingstodo/aquatics/outdoor.html

Upper County Outdoor Pool Swim Lesson 2
Information: This facility includes an eight lane, 25-meter Main Pool with two one-meter diving boards; a separate shallow water Leisure Pool with a water slide, Tot Pool, snack bar, bathhouse and lawn areas. For specific class information, please contact the pool or checkout the website.
Address: 8211 Emory Grove Road, Gaithersburg, Maryland
Ages: 6 months +
Website: http://www.montgomerycountymd.gov/rec/thingstodo/aquatics/outdoor.html

Wheaton/Glenmont Outdoor PoolBabyswim
Information: Facilities include a six lane, 50-meter Main Pool and an eight lane, 25-meter swim course, with one-meter and half-meter diving boards. A separate shallow water Leisure Pool has fountains, sprays and kiddie slides. An Activity Pool has two flume slides and crosswalks. A Tot Pool, snack bar, bathhouse, and lawn areas are also provided. For specific class information, please contact the pool or checkout the website.
Address: 12621 Dalewood Drive, Wheaton, Maryland
Ages: 6 months +
Website: http://www.montgomerycountymd.gov/rec/thingstodo/aquatics/outdoor.html

University of Maryland Eppley Recreation CenterU of MD
Information: The Eppley Rec Center at University of Maryland offers a wide range of Learn to Swim classes throughout the year. Classes are taught in a fun and friendly atmosphere at the state of the facility. Most kids and toddler classes last 40 minutes and focus on appropriate water skills and comfort based on the age of your child.
Address: 1115 Eppley Recreation Center, College Park, MD 20742
Ages: 6 months +
Website: http://www.crs.umd.edu

Quince Orchard Swim and Tennis Cluborchard
Information: Swim instruction is offered for all ages and abilities. Most of their swim lessons are held in the 2′ – 3′ deep area of the pool where students can easily stand. Students spend their class time in the water — not sitting on the side of the pool waiting for “their turn.” Parents can sit at the tables on the pool deck and watch their child’s swim lesson or they can sit upstairs in the lounge while their child is in class. Classes are broken up by age and ability. Their program has 5 levels–each level has specific skills students must accomplish before moving to the next level. Students also learn a Safety skills at every level. Most classes range from 4-6 students.
Address: 16601 Roundabout Drive, Gaithersburg, Maryland 20878
Ages: 18 months +
Website: http://www.qostc.com/swim.htm

Tom Dolan Swim SchoolDolan
Information: Founded by Olympic Medalist Tom Dolan, this swim school provides kids with water-safety education, self-esteem and confidence in the water. Their programs are based on water comfort levels. Early classes focus on paying games, singing songs, and assisting kids with feeling safe and confident in the water. Class sizes for small children are capped at 7 children. To help promote the importance of starting your baby on the pathway to Swim Thru Life (their slogan), the Tom Dolan school offers their intro class to all 3-6 month old babies Free of Charge!
Address: 22000 Dulles Retail Plaza #104, Sterling, VA 20166
Ages: 3 months +
Website: http://tomdolanswimschool.com/

Yorktown Aquatics CenterYorktown
Information: The facility offers an 8-lane x 25 yards competition pool with a fully decoupled diving well, and a separate instructional pool. A wet classroom, available for pool party rentals. The facility also offers full locker rooms with individual showers as well as four separate and fully equipped family changing rooms, two of which are fully accessible. Community Swimming instruction such as group learn-to-swim, children and adult classes and adult and senior adult water fitness classes are offered by the Arlington Department of Parks & Recreation.
Address: 5200 Yorktown Blvd, Arlington, VA 22207
Ages: 3 months +
Website: https://parks.arlingtonva.us/sports-aquatics/

Wakefield Swimming Poolwake
Information: The facility contains two pools, a wet classroom and a large capacity spectator gallery. The facility is fully accessible and also offers 4 family changing rooms. Community Swimming instruction such as group learn-to-swim, children and adult classes and adult and senior adult water fitness classes are offered by the Arlington Department of Parks & Recreation.
Address: 1325 S. Dinwiddie Rd, Arlington, VA 22206, 703-228-2395
Ages: 3 months +
Website: https://parks.arlingtonva.us/sports-aquatics/

Washington-Lee Swimming Poolwl
Information: The W-L facility contains a 25 meter x 25 yard competition pool equipped with a moveable bulkhead dividing a semi-coupled diving area. The pool’s moveable bulkhead allows us to set up for Water Polo games and to separate the diving well and instructional areas from the lap lanes. There is also a separate instructional pool, kept at 83-85 degrees, a wet classroom, and a spectator area with capacity for 175 spectators overlooking the pools. The locker room facilities offer individual shower stalls and there are four family changing areas, two of which are fully equipped and handicap accessible. Community Swimming instruction such as group learn-to-swim, children and adult classes and adult and senior adult water fitness classes are offered by the Arlington Department of Parks & Recreation.
1301 N. Stafford Street, Door #7, Arlington, VA 22201
Ages: 3 months +
Website: https://parks.arlingtonva.us/sports-aquatics/

SwimKids Acquatics CentersSwimtots
Information: At Swimkids they offer classes 7 days a week at all times of the day to meet your family’s needs at one of their many locations in the DC Area. Many families go year round to allow their kids to advance their swimming, but they have a wide assortment of classes which we love at their indoor pool. Their children’s lessons programs, SwimTots and SwimKids, are kept very small, with classes no larger than 3-5 swimmers in a group class to an instructor. The program moves at your child’s pace; as soon as your child achieves the goals of the current level, he or she will advance immediately to the next level and pick a prize from the SwimKids Treasure Chest! Each level is broken down into easy to achieve skills so that your child will constantly be receiving positive reinforcement as they learn to swim.
Address (Woodbridge): 14531 Potomac Mills Rd, Woodbridge, VA 22192
Address (Leesburg): 681 Potomac Station Drive, Leesburg, VA 20176
Address (Leesburg #2): 1608 Village Market Blvd #115, Leesburg, VA 20175
Address (Fredericksburg): 212 Butler Road Fredericksburg, VA 22405
Ages: 2 months +
Website: http://www.swimkids.us/

British Swim SchoolBritish Swim
Information: One of the largest swim programs in the DMV, the British Swim School rents out private pools (usually sports clubs or hotel pools) for its award winning lesson programs. Their classes range from introducing infants to the water to reduce fear, water survival, and having fun! With the exception of their infant class, all other classes for kids are limited to 4 students.
Locations in Virginia:
6200 Little River Turnpike, Alexandria, VA, 22312
11220 Lee Jackson Memorial Highway, Fairfax, VA
1000 E Broad Street, Falls Church, VA, 22046
12300 Price Club Plaza, Fairfax, Virginia, 22030
2722 Gallows Road, Vienna, VA, 22180
13000 Sport and Health Dr, Woodbridge, VA, 22192
Ages: 3 months +
Website: http://britishswimschool.com

Potomac Swim SchoolPotomac
Information: At Potomac Swim School you will find a facility that was built for the sole purpose of teaching swim lessons. Potomac Swim School has warm water, 91 degrees and warm air, 93 degrees. The temperatures are conducive to young children learning to swim because they are extremely comfortable. Our shallow pool is perfect for children to learn to swim. It gives them enough depth that they cannot touch the bottom, which aids in learning to swim, but we do use platforms in the pool on which they can stand when needed. Swim lessons taught at an early age benefit children with safety, water comfort and the development of gross motor, emotional, intellectual, and socials skills. It is fun and easier to teach children at an early age how to swim before they develop fear or apprehension of the water. With a focus on beginner swimmers, PSS continues to work with children whose skills advance to the refinement of such strokes as freestyle, backstroke, breaststroke, and butterfly. Each class level is specifically designed to provide age-appropriate instruction.
Address: 21730 Red Rum Drive, Suite 107, Ashburn, VA 20147
Ages: 6 months +
Website: http://www.potomacswimschool.com