Holiday Show at the Western Pennsylvania Model Railroad Museum.

Western Pennsylvania Model Railroad Museum

November 14 – January 17
Various times

Do you have a train fanatic, model maker or future engineer in your brood? If so, then the best place for your family this holiday season is the Western Pennsylvania Model Railroad Museum.

Head  to the Gibsonia-based museum to celebrate the opening of its 28th annual Holiday Train Display on Saturday, November 14th and Sunday, November 15th from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. One of the oldest model railroad organizations in the U.S., the unique museum is located just 15 miles from downtown Pittsburgh.

Children of all ages and kids at heart alike will discover the wonder of this unique regional destination, which includes additional featured attractions such as the Mon-Valley System, interactive exhibits and toy train displays.

A centerpiece for the museum’s holiday season is the not-to-miss train show called “A Railroad Journey in Miniature,” where visitors will be transported to “The Smokey City” of Pittsburgh’s past. Lowering the lights and turning back the clock from a fall evening in 1949 to the summer of 1952, the immersive rail journey features famed trains such as the Broadway, Super Chief, 20th Century and Shooting Star. Train fans will be captivated by replicas of the car shops of Pullman and Budd, the self-propelled Vista Dome, the mighty Jack the Giant Killer diesel and the sleek Shark Nose passenger vessel.

The tiniest train lovers will enjoy the special interactive displays, where kids can push buttons and power the engines. Learn the rules of the railroad and explore roundhouses, bridges and industries at the interactive wooden train tables, and then try your hand at racing Thomas and Percy around an HO scale model railroad layout.

Head to the toy train exhibit area to experience two continuously running outer lines and push buttons to activate three locomotives and a trolley along tracks that even the youngest of engineers can operate. Explore a variety of intricately crafted railroad scenes, including a dinosaur zone, drive-in movie theater and even a lunar alien crash site.

See all kinds of trains—from a pink engine and a 4-4-0 Jupiter featured in Wild West movies, to modern freight engines and even an Area 51 train. Don’t leave without checking out the museum’s Simpson handcar, circus train with giraffes, and novelty cars traveling along the track.

Looking for a new twist on Friday night? Spend a magical evening at the museum’s Steam at Twilight events held every Friday night. Showcasing the museum’s newly upgraded lighting technologies, the event features simulations of daylight, sunset and moonlight, scavenger hunts and displays depicting Pittsburgh’s role in railroad history from the days of industry to the recent renaissance.

The Western Pennsylvania Model Railroad Museum’s Holiday Train Display runs through January 17th, 2016. Admission is $4 for children under 12 and $6 for adults.

Looking for more events? Read our 10 Pittsburgh events not to miss in January feature.

Jennifer Baron

Jennifer has worked at the Mattress Factory, Brooklyn Museum of Art and Dahesh Museum of Art and is co-author of Pittsburgh Signs Project: 250 Signs of Western Pennsylvania. She also is co-coordinator...