Please note: This post was written in 2018, and while it should still give you a good idea of the overall experience, it may also contain some outdated information. For the most up-to-date information, please visit their website.
This post has been sponsored by the Connecticut Trolley Museum. All opinions expressed by this blogger are 100% her own.
If seven years blogging about things to do with kids has taught us anything, it’s that Connecticut has no shortage of fun activities for little ones. But every so often we stumble upon outings that offer more than just an enjoyable family experience. Outings that are truly original. Outings that have character. Outings that our kids will still remember years from now when they are asking us to drop them off a block away from school 🙂
I knew we had found such a place back in 2012 when we arrived at the Connecticut Trolley Museum for the first time during their annual Winterfest celebration. There was just something about this place. So authentic. So steeped in history. So beloved by its many devoted volunteers.
Two years later we came back for a trolley ride to the pumpkin patch in early autumn and enjoyed not just the festivities, but that same passionate spirit, which resonates throughout everything they do at the Connecticut Trolley Museum.
More recently though, I realized that although I’d been there for two visits, I’d never really had an opportunity to experience the Museum on just a normal day. So when I was invited to visit this spring, I jumped at the chance to learn more about this unique Connecticut destination. And so today I am sharing with you “10 Things You Didn’t Know About The Connecticut Trolley Museum.”
1. It is located in East Windsor.
Okay, so maybe this is not news to you. But the Connecticut Trolley Museum is very conveniently located for those of us living in the Greater Hartford/Central Connecticut area (and even for those just over the border in MA!). It’s a straight shot up 91N from Hartford and very easy to find.
2. The Trolleys are real! And they run! (All day.)
You didn’t think we’d send you and your vehicle-crazy kiddos to a place where all you can do is look at trolleys, now did you???
These trolleys go way back. Some of them more than 100 years back! But they have been lovingly restored (mainly on site right there at the Connecticut Trolley Museum) to their historic glory so that visitors can get a real taste of what it was like when electric trolleys were a standard form of public transportation.
The Trolleys depart about every 45 minutes. The ride itself is about 20 minutes long (a 3-mile round trip) on a track located right in front of the Museum!
3. You can ride the trolleys as many times as you want.
Yes! It’s true! You can ride out and back on those trolleys all day if you’d like to. In fact, when you pay your admission fee everyone will get a “ticket” that you can have punched each time you ride the trolley.
And I do mean trolleys with an “s” because there is usually more than one! Like the day we visited, for example, we got to enjoy a ride on both a closed car and this open car:
There are usually 6-7 operational trolleys, and the Museum rotates their service throughout the week so you never know which trolleys you might be able to ride on during your next visit! It might be an old favorite or a brand new-to-you one 🙂
4. The museum building is super kid-friendly.
The boys loved being able to ride on an actual trolley, so I was excited to see that the inside area of the Museum is as hands-on as the outside!
The building was filled with a surprising number of authentic trolley cars.
We were particularly delighted to see this sign on several of the vehicles:
But first, the kids had to stop at the new dress up area for the appropriate trolley-exploring (and super-cute-photo-making) attire.
We also found a craft table where the kids could make an engineer’s hat or work on assorted coloring pages.
Just outside the trolley room there is also a little alcove with a train table and some other activities. This is always a popular stop!
(Meanwhile, as the kids are enjoying all this “playing,” grownups can peruse the exhibit to learn about the evolution of the electric trolley and how they impacted society. I love it when I can get a few quiet moments to learn something new!)
5. With lots of special events, there’s always something fun going on here.
As I mentioned, back in 2012 we visited for their Winterfest and Tunnel of Lights holiday event:
And then again in 2014 for their Trolley Ride to the Pumpkin Patch:
And don’t forget about Easter Bunny Fun Days in the spring!
But the Connecticut Trolley Museum also has plenty of fun, family-friendly events happening this summer (2018), such as:
- Storytime Mondays every Monday @ 11:00am from June 18th to August 27th (Listen to a story on the trolley, then go for a ride!)
- LEGO Fridays through August 17th (Every Friday children ages 5-12 can build a model of a trolley and enter into a contest to see who builds the most creative model!)
- The Fire Truck Show on July 21st (Over 20 fire trucks will be on display! Plus sit in a real fire truck, try on firefighter gear, and take home a souvenir children’s fire hat.)
- Super Hero and Princess Days on August 24th & August 25th (Dress up as your favorite Super Hero or Princess and enjoy themed activities throughout the day.)
To make the visit experience even more interactive, the Museum has two educators who work with the visitors, facilitate hands-on activities and tours, help at the craft table and they are even Motorman/Motormwoman so you may see them operating your trolley as well!
6. There is also a Fire Museum on the grounds.
Despite having visited this museum twice, I had no idea that just behind the main building there is another exhibit area positively filled with historical fire engines and other memorabilia. If you have a fire truck lovin’ kiddo in your house, you have got to bring them here! It’s like walking amongst their favorite model truck toys…only they’re real 🙂
7. It is a great place to bring a picnic.
Just because the Connecticut Trolley Museum doesn’t serve food doesn’t mean they don’t want you to stay for lunch. In fact, they have a wonderful picnic area just outside the main museum building. We saw people with everything from a simple bagged sandwich to full-on coolers and tablecloths! There is also a Dunkin Donuts and a Subway just down the road– great options if you want to pick up a quick lunch or snack (or a much-needed caffeine boost) on your way there.
Assorted ice cream treats are available in the gift shop (there is also a beverage vending machine in the main building), which was our snack of choice on the day we visited.
Another new feature on the grounds it this adorable train playscape (a trainscape, perhaps?). The kids loved climbing around on this thing…and I loved having a few moments of peace and quiet to enjoy the beautiful day!
8. The, ahem, facilities are family-friendly 🙂
You know no OAAM post is complete without a nod to the restroom situation. And I’m happy to report that the Connecticut Trolley Museum scores big in that department with not just changing stations, but separate little family-style rooms (with their own sinks!) in both the men’s and women’s restrooms. And they are even big enough to fit a stroller!
Speaking of strollers, the whole Museum is pretty stroller-friendly, with the exception of the trolley ride, of course. But in that case, you can simply leave your stroller right down by the trolley boarding area.
9. You can host a birthday party here.
For the little conductor-at-heart in your life, consider this: a birthday celebration on a trolley! That’s right, you can even have your child’s birthday party at the Connecticut Trolley Museum. Choose from a stationary celebration aboard the climate-controlled dining car, or a mobile bash on board the Birthday Party Trolley.
10. Membership comes with some surprising perks.
A family membership to the Connecticut Trolley Museum is just $55. And right now, that membership comes with some pretty cool perks!
During the months of July & August Connecticut Trolley Museum Members receive FREE admission to one of our other favorite places, the Lutz Children’s Museum, as well as HALF OFF admission to the Old Newgate Prison & Copper Mine AND 10% off at the Local Subway (Rt 140) which is only a third of a mile from the Connecticut Trolley Museum (remember how I said you might want to bring a picnic?).
Memberships like this are so great to have during the summer months when you need a daily activity to keep your kiddos entertained (and you sane). No need to panic if you don’t have plans one day. Just head to the Connecticut Trolley Museum or the Lutz and take advantage of those membership perks!
AND when you purchase a new Connecticut Trolley Museum membership now, it will be good through the end of 2019!
I’m so glad I got a chance to visit the Connecticut Trolley Museum to learn more about their everyday offerings! Of course I can’t wait to go back for their famous annual events, but now I know that a visit to this Museum is pretty special any day 🙂
I hope you get a chance to check it out with your family this summer!
Contact them via email here.
Currently, the CT Trolley Museum is open for these special summer hours. But please check their website for the most up-to-date information.
June 16, 2018 to September 3, 2018:
Open every day except Tuesdays from 10:00 AM to 4:30 PM
***Last trolley ride is at 4:00 PM***
- Children (under 4) • Free
- Children (4-12) • $7
- Adults • $10
- Seniors (62+) • $9
Stroller Friendly: YES
Coffee Mug Friendly: YES
Baby Changing Station: YES, changing areas in both the men’s and women’s restrooms.
Food for Sale: There are some vending machines with drinks/snacks and there are ice cream treats for sale in the gift shop.
Outside Food Allowed: YES! Bring a picnic!
Cash Required: NO (except maybe for vending machines; I can’t recall if those take credit cards)
Age Recommendations: ALL AGES
Dress Code: N/A
Evening/Weekend Hours: YES
Discounts: Members receive free general admission and special discounts on events! Get more info on membership HERE.
Birthday Party Venue: Yes! Get more info HERE.
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