Great Train Story (Model Trains) - Museum of Science and Industry

For any kids that like trains, The Great Train Story will be entertaining. The main feature is the large model train set, which highlights portions of Chicago and the port of Seattle, and the “selectively compressed” country in between. My kids go in phases between loving it and not being very interested, but one of their favorite things to do is pushing the few small buttons that interact with the set slightly. Look for the buttons attached to the top railing: near Chicago, one button will raise and lower a bridge, another nearby button moves a train into position, pours molten iron into the car, and moves the train back. We also just enjoy finding a fun train (like the one carrying tractors) and following it around the scene. Or looking for amusing additions to the scenery: a cow sitting on a city bench, a bear chasing hikers, Dracula by the Crain Communications building, and the Hulk on Lake Street. Kids under 4 may have trouble seeing onto the set on their own, so be prepared to lift or carry younger kids.

Other highlights include the Empire State Express No. 999, which was the fastest passenger locomotive in the world when it made its trip to the 1893 World’s Fair in Chicago (for which MSI’s building was built, it was the Palace of Fine Arts for the fair).

In the back is a replica of an 1882 cable car, which is actually one of the biggest hits for my kids since they get to climb all over. Have fun with the seats, and try rearranging the seating by flipping seatbacks so the same seat now faces the opposite direction.

If your kids are big fans of trains, don’t miss the Pioneer Zephyr in the Entry Hall (where you buy tickets).