I'm so excited to partner with East Troy Electric Railroad for this sponsored post to give parents an idea of what they can expect when they visit with their kids. Riding the old-fashioned electric rail cars on the East Troy Railroad is like taking a giant step back in time with your kids. It's charming and warm, and it's fun to imagine what life would have been like as a family in the 1920's. The trains currently operate Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays. (See schedule.)
To start our adventure, we boarded our minivan armed with snacks and good music. We live in Glendale, and it took us about 45 minutes to arrive at the historic depot in East Troy. The museum is well-marked and there's plenty of free parking.
You have the option to board at the historic depot in East Troy or at the Elegant Farmer in Mukwonago. (See schedule.)
The museum itself is filled with interesting historical tidbits, model train layouts, vintage mementos, railroad souvenirs, and a hands-on area where kids can pretend to be a trolley motorman.
You purchase your tickets at an old-fashioned ticket counter. (So fun!) There's also a well-kept bathroom right inside of the depot.
We purchased tickets for the first scheduled train on Sundays at 9:30 a.m., and soon it was our time to board. The kids were so excited when they heard the announcement that the train was about to depart, and they loved handing their own tickets to the engineer.
The seats on the rail cars are old-fashioned as expected, but also padded and quite comfortable. We found a small room with two long seats facing each other, and it was perfect for our group of five.
Throughout the ten-mile ride, we enjoyed the sunny countryside and spotted farm animals, wildflowers, wild berries, country houses, and more. My son was convinced that the train blew its whistle to indicate "something beautiful." (I didn't have the heart to tell him otherwise.)
The ride was about 30 minutes, and the kids were transfixed on the scenery for most of that time.
My one year old was not impressed with the loud train horn. It's tough being the third child! Luckily grandma was there to snuggle her while the big kids enjoyed the ride.
Destination: Elegant Farmer
You have the option to disembark at Elegant Farmer, or to keep riding on to Indianhead Park in Mukwonago.
We disembarked at Elegant Farmer because, well, have you ever tried their pie?
We arrived at 10:00 a.m. and at first I was a little worried about what we would do there for an hour before the train came back to get us. But the timing turned out perfectly.
First, we spent some time on the wooden rocking horses, and then we meandered through the country store.
The store is filled with gourmet, local products including raw honey, caramel popcorn, old-fashioned candy, salt water taffy, cheeses, meats, pies and other baked goods. My kids opted for ice cream.
After enjoying our morning delights, we had a little bit of time before the train was scheduled to come get us. We mosied around a nearby store that sells kitschy signs and old-fashioned furniture.
Before we knew it, it was time to head back to the depot. We got to ride in a different train car on the way back, filled with vintage advertisements and original 1920's decor.
Somehow my kids had not completely fallen apart yet, and we had a genuinely fun day together. It was such a unique adventure, and we're so lucky to live within an hour of it.
-Arrive at least 15 minutes early so you have enough time to purchase tickets, explore the museum, and use the bathroom.
-Remind your kids before the ride that they need to keep their hands and body inside the train. There is brush along the way that can scratch them.
-If you haven't already enjoyed ice cream at the Elegant Farmer, you can end your day with a visit to Lauber's Old Fashioned Ice Cream Parlor next to the depot.
-Adult tickets are $12.50 each, but you can save on everyone else. Seniors ages 65 and up are $10.50, kids ages 3-14 are $8.00, and kids 2 and under are free. All proceeds and sales benefit the education and preservation work of the museum.
-During the colder months, the trolley cars are heated, and you can ride the Christmas Train or Bunny Train for a festive holiday experience.
About the East Troy Railroad
The East Troy Railroad Museum operates on the last remaining piece of the original interurban network which operated in Wisconsin. By 1939, the railroad was retired by The Milwaukee Electric Railway & Light Company due to lack of ridership. Since everything from gas to groceries came in to East Troy by this line, the town passed a referendum to purchase the remaining 7.5 mile stretch of track and overhead for freight purposes. The Village of East Troy operated the railroad until the year 2000 when it was purchased by the Friends of East Troy Railroad. Today, the East Troy Electric Railroad has 32 pieces of equipment with over 500 members worldwide, 110 active volunteers and 15,000 visitors each year. The East Troy Electric Railroad is a not-for-profit 501(c)(3) organization run by volunteers committed to the operation and preservation of historic trolleys and interurban railcars. All proceeds and sales benefit the education and preservation work of the museum. Contributions are tax deductible as permitted by law.