May 29, 2018

A Visit to the Southeastern Railway Museum

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A Visit to the Southeastern Railway Museum

Summer has descended upon us, and its presence can mean only one thing: I need to start getting creative with our weekday adventures. Staying at home all week is just not an option if I want to keep our house in any sort of semi-clean, functional state or if I want to retain my sanity. My two boys are full of boundless energy and excursions help break up the monotony of the week, and they also offer a bit of reprieve for me because when we return and they (usually) sit quietly for a couple hours recovering from the excitement. Needless to say, I've made a list of places to visit, and we started checking them off one at a time.

To kick summer off, we stayed close to home when we visited the acclaimed Southeastern Railway Museum. Located in Duluth, Georgia it features old trains, taxis, buses, firetrucks, and cars. For two young boys infatuated with vehicles and transportation, it was nothing short of sheer bliss. This was our second visit to the museum. My youngest, however, has no memory of his first time there. His lack of recollection made it fun to explore everything with the excitement of fresh, youthful eyes. My oldest, on the other hand, had a mental checklist of exhibits he wanted to visit and things he wanted to do. On the top of his priority list was, of course, a train ride.

Kid waving out the window of train at the Southeastern Railway Museum

For a little context, the Southeastern Railway Museum doesn't look like much when you first pull up to its entrance. You'll pass a beautifully resorted depot with a miniature city and tracks, but the museum itself is housed in a big warehouse with old trains lined up outside, many under the protective covering of an oversized pavilion. Initially, you will approach a tiny, wooden structure for tickets. Ticket prices range depending on age. Adults are $10, and children ages 2-12 are $7. If you want to add on a short train ride on the large historic train, which I recommend, it's an additional $3 per person. Miniature train rides are another $3 per person, or you can ride each train one time for a discounted price of $5 per person.

Pro Tip: If you want to save on ticket prices, you can visit the Gwinnett Public Library and check out a one week pass for free admission for a family of four. Please note, the free pass does not include train ride passes.

Smiling kid sitting on old bus pretending to turn steering wheel.

If you are planning a visit to the Southeastern Railway Museum you should know ahead of time there is quite a bit of walking and some climbing to get up and into the old trains. My two-year-old was able to do most of the climbing, but I did need to lift him up and down several times. If you are up for the physical challenge, then history awaits.

You can walk through the stagnant corridors of old United States Postal Service delivery car, through passenger cabins which were used on cross-country transit rides in the 1920's and 30's, and kitchen cars where meals were prepared for passengers who developed an appetite on their long journies. You explore the museum at your own pace, so you can take time on the exhibits which interest you most, and quickly pass by others. Inside the museum, there are plenty of plaques with explanations about the exhibits, but when you walk through the vehicles outside you need to rely on a printed pamphlet for historical context.

Two kids standing on the backside of an old train

The museum really offers a hands-on experience for visitors of all ages. You can get behind the wheel of an old bus, or sit in the seats of a sky-high double-decker train car to immerse yourself in the history. Also, there is a small movie theater where you can watch more about the origins of the trains and other vehicles.

A couple things to note:
  • There is no air conditioning, and during the summer in Georgia, that can be a huge problem. Make sure to pack and plan accordingly, so you stay cool and plan to take water breaks throughout your visit. We used this handheld fan and cooling towel to ensure we stayed extra cool.
  • Most of the museum is under the cover of trains. You walk from one train car to the next. However, it's not very conducive to rain-day adventuring unless getting dirty is part of the plan.
  • The museum would make an incredible backdrop for family pictures, engagement sessions, blogger fashion spreads, or still artistic photography.
  • There is a gift shop inside the museum with cold refreshments, snacks, and lots of train inspired paraphernalia.          
An old orange and cream bus at the Southeastern Railway Museum in Duluth, GA

Overall, my kids loved the museum, and we will undoubtedly return again sometime. Their favorite part of the experience was the historic train ride, and according to them the worst part of the experience was "leaving the museum." As a parent, I'd give it 3.5/5 stars, and I recommend it to any train or history enthusiast. 

Two kids giving thumbs up in front of sign at the Southeastern Railway Museum in Duluth, GA

If you're looking for some other fun places to visit in Atlanta this summer, check out our review of the Georgia Aquarium and Jaemor Farms.

What are some of your favorite kid-friendly, summertime destinations? 

Be Blessed,
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