PLEASE NOTE: This post is about the 2014 event. While this post should still give you a great idea of the overall experience, it is possible that it may contain some outdated information. Please be sure to check the Railroad Museum of New England’s website for details about things like dates, hours and pricing.
Disclaimer: The Railroad Museum of New England provided me and my family with complimentary tickets for the Naugatuck’s pumpkin patch train ride. All opinions expressed here are 100% my own.
This past Sunday my family and I took a 40 minute drive from West Hartford to Thomaston, Connecticut for a visit to the Railroad Museum of New England.
This non-profit, volunteer-based, educational and historical organization has a mission to teach visitors about the region’s rich railroad heritage while also operating the Naugatuck Railroad. Based out of the Thomaston Station, train rides are offered at various times throughout the year and in October a special train ride called the Train Ride to the Pumpkin Patch, operates on Saturdays and Sundays with departures at noon at 2:00 pm each day.
Both last year and this year we included the pumpkin patch train ride in our Family-Friendly Halloween events post, but neither Shawna nor I had ever had an opportunity to visit. I’d heard good things about this destination and was looking forward to checking it out with my train-obsessed kiddos.
Getting to the railroad station was fairly easy, we just put the address into our GPS. But the museum’s site did warn us that GPS may need a little extra help with getting us all the way there. Visitors can check out the directions available on the museum’s site for more details.
The train station was located right next to an overpass and we had to take a ramp down to the station and parking area. — Just keep an eye out for this building and train station signs.
Here is a picture of the ramp for reference.
At the bottom of the ramp, we went over a set of train tracks and then followed instructions as to where to park. Since we were arriving early, there were plenty of parking spaces available, but I did notice that as the afternoon went on, visitors had to go a bit further to find a place to park. But volunteers from the museum were stationed throughout the parking area to provide visitors with guidance on where to go.
For our visit, we took the railroad museum’s advice and arrived early. They suggested 30 minutes before departure and we were there about 45 minutes ahead of time (we were taking the noon train).
Our first stop was inside the Thomaston Train Station where we could pick up our tickets and take a look around. Visitors could purchase tickets inside this building or in advance. Tickets purchased in advance were available at will call (in the train station) on the day of departure.
The Thomaston Station had information on the railroad history, a model train display, and train-themed toys for sale.
They also had an assortment of snacks and drinks which were available in exchange for donations. The suggested donation amount was $1 per item and cash could be placed in a bin right in the snack area.
Outside the station, there were picnic tables available where you could enjoy your food or you could bring them with you on the train ride.
The big green building located right behind the picnic area was the location of another important destination for my little ones, the bathrooms. We made quite a few visit to these restrooms and I just have to say, that they were some of the nicest restrooms I’ve ever been inside. They also contained a baby changing station which is always something I like to see at family-friendly destinations. Oh and just a heads up that there are no restroom facilities available during the 80 minute train outing, so visitors should make sure they stop by this green building before their train departs 🙂
Also located right outside the train station, was a set of trains that were open and available for the kids to explore. There were several for them to look inside including a diesel-electric switching locomotive and a caboose.
The kids played for quite a while on the train and then we heard announcements for the noon train departure (and reminders to take a final trip to the restroom!)
We could hear the train approaching and quickly made our way to the front side of the station to see it in action.
Once the train ride began, we enjoyed the pretty views outside our window and settled in for the 80 minute trip. Some of the ride included views of the Naugatuck River, some of the fall foliage, and some of buildings and train equipment.
I asked my sweet girl to take a picture with me and requested her prettiest smile. This is what resulted. This picture is definitely being saved for her rehearsal dinner photo montage 🙂
A little ways into our ride, the conductor came around and asked for our tickets. Bruiser was ready.
It was right about this time that my kids started becoming a little restless and I wish I had brought along some coloring items and a few more snacks for them to enjoy along the way.
But, before long, the train was moving again and we were making our way back to Thomaston Station. Then, a little ways before we reached the station, we stopped to visit the pumpkin patch.
While we were there, I even ran into another Connecticut Mommy Blogger (small world!). Yasmin, from www.ctmommyblog.com was also enjoying the train ride with her family that day. If I was a little more on my toes, I would have snapped a selfie of me and Yazmin, but I was totally preoccupied with my kiddos and didn’t think about it. But, Yazmin did make it into a few of my pictures with Sparkles, so I will use that pic for now 🙂
After a few minutes of pumpkin collecting and picture taking, everyone got back on the train for the trip back to the station (or at least I thought that was where we were heading).
Soon the train was moving again and I was surprised to see that we went past the Thomaston Station and continued further along the Naugatuck River. A little further down was an area with some amazing views of the fall foliage. I could see why they wanted to continue the ride down to this area (though my pictures through the glass window really don’t do the view justice)!
The train stopped for a few moments so that we could enjoy the view and then we made our way back to the station. When we arrived, the station was busy with passengers preparing for the 2:00 pm departure. We let the kids take one more stroll through the train station and play on the trains outside for a few minutes before we got them back in the car for our trip home.
We had so much fun discovering a new Connecticut train destination and it was amazing to see all the work that was being contributed by volunteers and the Railroad Museum of New England to preserve our state’s train history. The views of the fall foliage were beautiful and the stop at the pumpkin patch was so much fun for the kids. It was also great to see that this train destination offered holiday train rides with Santa during both the daytime and evening hours. I will be sure to include that in my holiday outing list this year!
Naugatuck Railroad (operated by the Railroad Museum of New England)
Phone: (860) 283-RAIL (7245)
- Pumpkin Patch Train Ride
- October 11 & 12, 18 & 19, and October 25 & 26
- Departures at noon and 2:00 pm
- Northern Lights Limited Holiday Train Ride
- Saturday, November 29 at 5:00 and 7:00 PM
- Sunday, November 30 at 5:00 PM
- Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays, December 6, 7, 12, 13, 14, 19, 20, 21 at 5:00 and 7:00 PM
- Santa Express Holiday Train Ride
- Sunday, November 30 at 2:00 PM
- Saturdays and Sundays, December 6, 7, 13, 14, 20, 21 at 2:00 PM
- The remainder of the year, the schedule varies by season.
- Pumpkin Patch Train Ride
- $17 for adults
- $15 for children
- Ages 2 and under are FREE
- Other train rides vary in price.
- Stroller Friendly: YES – But a stroller may not be needed. You could definitely use a stroller to get from your car to the train station and I’m sure you could bring a stroller on the train, but for this outing and all the stairs and all the time spent on the train, the best option for a little one would either be carrying them in their car seat or bringing them in a baby carrier.
- Coffee Mug Friendly: YES.
- Restroom: YES. A very nice restroom is located in the green building behind the train station. Restrooms are not available on the train ride.
- Baby Changing Station: YES.
- Parking: YES. Parking is free and it is conveniently located right next to the main building.
- Food for Sale: YES. Snacks and drinks are available on the honor system. A donation of $1 per item is requested.
- Outside Food Allowed: YES.
- Cash Required: NO. Credit cards are accepted.
- Dress Code: None.
- Evening/Weekend Hours: YES.
Other Tips and Suggestions:
- Plan to arrive at least 30 minutes before your scheduled train departure time.
- Bring snacks and maybe some other activities for your kids to enjoy during the train ride. [Especially if your little ones easily become restless like mine!]
- Remember there are no restrooms available during the train ride.
- Be sure to bring your camera to capture pictures at the pumpkin patch.
- 4D Vision Gym – A vision training center located in Cromwell, CT where Dr. Juanita Collier, MS, OD and her staff show members how to utilize Vision Therapy to correct visual issues and make learning and playing easier and more fun.
- The Independent Day School – Located on a rural campus in Middlefield, CT this private pre-school, elementary and middle school serves families from over 20 communities.
- Mandell JCC – The Mandell JCC, Zachs Campus, 335 Bloomfield Avenue, West Hartford, CT, welcomes and serves families and individuals of all ages, stages, backgrounds and faiths. Our fitness, wellness and recreation, arts and culture, camp, early childhood education programs, classes, clubs and services are open to all. You Belong Here!
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