Friday, January 14, 2011

Travel Thursdays - California State Railroad Museum

We finally did it! We visited a museum in the state Capital. This had been a visit long planned and we had been putting it off.
Over the holiday break, we decided we need to do this. For our first museum visit, we picked the California Railroad Museum. I called ahead and asked how long it would take to see the museum and was told that most people see it in 4 to 5 hours.
We left the bay area around 9.30 am after breakfast and reached just a little before noon (bad traffic just before we hit Sacramento). They have ample parking available in the Old Town area where the Railroad museum is. You have street parking and parking garages too. Parking in the garage right across the museum is a reasonable $8 per day.
We walked in just in time for a tour that was starting. Our tour guide ‘Dan’ was extremely enthusiastic and involved everyone during his tour. Adults and kids alike enjoyed the tour. He made otherwise seemingly mundane information fun. The tour lasted about 45 minutes and during the tour, we learned a little about the history of the museum, the history of the railway system in the U.S. and the Lost Golden Spindle as well as other interesting tidbits.
We then stepped out for lunch (you can walk in and out of the museum after you have purchased your tickets – when we walked back in, the staff at the ticket counter remembered us and waved us back in without checking our tickets) and ate at a sandwich place recommended by the staff at the museum – it is on Front Street in old town Sacramento and like most shops and restaurants there, quaint, rustic and warm. The food was excellent too. I definitely recommend this place.
We walked back to the museum and started our self-guided tour now, exploring every nook and corner – the trains displayed there are all very well maintained. Many of them are operational as well. All of them are like bright, new copper pennies – shining and, clean.
The coolest part of the tour for all of us was walking in the Pullman sleeper car model - this was kept on rollers which meant we felt like we were really traveling by train as we stepped in. they also had sound and light effects inside to simulate train travel – we loved it and walked back in and out of this a few times more.They have life-like displays of passengers and railway staff in these models.
They have a wonderful display of model trains (both working and display only) on the second floor and this kept the kids entertained for quite some time. We then did one last round on the simulated models and stopped at the museum shop to browse before we left. They have everything related to trains, obviously – calendars, books, models, Legos, toys, music, videos and more. We spent some time walking around Old Town Sacramento and that deserves a post of its own so that will come soon.
We are looking forward to our next trip to the capital – our next museum – the Aviation Museum. 
Website information for the Railroad museum: 


  1. is an equally amazing rail journey and museum experience in the north east.

  2. Thanks for posting this link in my blog. Sounds like an authentic tour and I like your pictures too.

    When we took the ride on the Tottenham train, the engineer told stories including one about a ghost train.
    If I ever go to Sacramento, I might have to look up this museum.


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