Side Trip: Travel Town at Griffith Park

Travel Town, Trains

The “Mariposa” locomotive for the Western Pacific Railroad, built in 1864

If you’re in the Los Angeles area and are looking for a fun place to take your train-loving toddler, check out Travel Town Museum at Griffith Park.  Travel Town showcases dozens of pre-WWII locomotives, cabooses, passenger- and freight cars, many of which you’re even allowed to climb aboard. And best of all, admittance is free! The park has several grassy areas and tables that are perfect for picnicking too. One of the big highlights of Travel Town is a working, miniature train that takes passengers on a loop around the park along a narrow gauge track. Rides are only $2 per person (babies can ride on your lap for free.)

A covered outdoor pavilion displays most of the classic trains. You can even take a docent-led tour through three of the historic cars. Before the age of commercial flights, most people traveled long distances by train. The journey from Chicago to Los Angeles on the Union Pacific Railroad would take roughly 40 hours. On the tour, the first car you enter is a first-class dining car that was built back in 1921. Then, you pass into what was once a posh lounge car, nicknamed “The Little Nugget,” which was dates back to 1937. Famous celebrities of the day, including George Burns, Gracie Allen, May West, and Cecil B. DeMille all rode this train many times. The third car, called “The Rose Bowl,” was put into service in 1937. It’s a sleeper car with eighteen luxurious roomettes lining a narrow corridor, each with a private bed and toilet. Small donations for the tour are encouraged and are used for the restoration of these stately trains of yesteryear.

At Travel Town there’s also a small gift shop that’s chock-full of train toys, books, and memorabilia. Be aware that the “Thomas the Tank Engine” toys are extremely expensive though. The goal of Travel Town Museum is to preserve and celebrate the rich railroad heritage of Los Angeles. It’s a great place to spend an afternoon for train lovers of all ages!

Where: Travel Town Museum, 5200 Zoo Drive, Los Angeles, California, 90027. [Take the Forest Lawn exit from the 134 Freeway.]
When: The park is open weekdays from 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
and until 5 p.m.
on weekends and holidays. [during daylight savings time, the park is open one hour later]
For More Information: Visit the Travel Town Museum website by clicking here.

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