William loves trains - and it is something we have to bribe him not to talk about sometime - like, "William, we will buy you a small train the next time we go to a train museum, if you stop asking to go." It sounds horrible, but if you have a four year old, you totally understand - there are only so many train museums we can take him. So when we saw that Savannah had a train museum, we knew it was a must go, and William wouldn't stop talking about it up until we got there - and as I'm writing this, he is playing with his toy train from the gift shop - the kid loves trains.
The Railroad and Children's Museum are right next to each other (literally in the same gated park), and are just off of 16 heading into downtown Savannah. The historic site the museums are located on is the spot where The Central of Georgia Rail Road and Canal Company built railroad/train repair shops, including a blacksmith shop, tender frame shop, engine house and more. The grounds include the roundhouse and turntable, which you can get a boarding pass when checking in to ride one of the locomotives, slowly spinning on the turntable to go in different directions. This train ride is included in the price of admission, but you can pay a little extra to have your kids ride with the conductor!
We recommend purchasing the 'SEE 3 PASS,' which allows you to see any three historic sites for a great price! Plus, you have three days to see everything! With this pass you can get into the railroad museum, children's museum and then select from other options - we chose Old Fort Jackson. Once you've purchased your tickets and gotten your boarding pass, it is off to see the trains! There are plenty of trains to see, some you can climb on, and others you can go inside during tour hours. They even have antiques from the train's time period. William loved looking at the trains, and we even had a road school moment to go over numbers with the engine numbers on the trains!
I loved how gorgeous the buildings are, and the architecture is so grand! I also love the fact that the people of Savannah decided to save this historic site, instead of demolishing it, and made it into a place to visit and learn our history. There are plenty of shops and buildings to visit - blacksmith shop, tender frame shop, smokestack, engine house, boiler room, machine shop and storehouse. It is amazing walking through the buildings - they are massive and awe inspiring.
Once you have explored all the trains and railroad buildings, and you have time before you need to board the train, the next stop is the Children's Museum. It is right beside the Railroad Museum. Just follow the sidewalk after the storehouse and it will lead you to a small fence. Now I must warn you that the children's museum is small, and much of it is still in the process of being built, but what is there now is still marvelous, and a great tell for what the future holds for this museum!
There is an orange caboose and black baggage car when you first walk into the gated Children's Museum. William loved the baggage car because it had a train table where he could sit and play with the toy trains. There are also crafts and a reading nook in this car. The orange caboose is just a small quiet area to rest, change diapers, or nurse. A definite plus for parents! Outside the trains and in the yard are musical instruments, balls, blocks to build with, and a sand box.
But the real magic is just below this yard, in what used to be the carpenter's shop of the railway company, but now holds the Exploration Station. You step out onto the deck and below you have a whimsical garden to your right and an extraordinary little maze to the left, with books, blocks and boats in between! You can either take the stairs down or shoot down the slide, however adventurous you are feeling! We hit the maze first, and William found his way through it on the first try!
We then made our way over to the Whimsical Wardrobe, which reminded me of stories from when I was a kid, and was tucked into a nook under brick archways - it really is magical! Next are blocks and building materials to build until your heart's content. Greg and I played a few games of Connect Four on a large board, while William built towers. We then stopped in the reading nook for a quick break and read, then explored the Frogtown Garden. On hot days they even have a misting area, though we didn't need it on our visit!
It was now time to go board the train, so we left the Children's Museum, taking a brief look at the future plans for the museum (they look amazing), and then headed to the turntable. Here we boarded our train and took a 25 to 30 minute tour and ride on the train. William enjoyed the ride, especially when the conductor rang the bell or honked the horn.
All in all, the Georgia State Railroad Museum and Savannah Children's Museum are at the top of our must visit list for Savannah, Georgia. If you have kids, it is a definite must! William had so much fun, and has already asked if we can go back tomorrow for a little bit! Thankfully we purchased the 'SEE 3 PASS' so we can stop by again. Not only are these museums educational and entertaining, but they are an example of how we can grow as a city (or country) and not get rid of our historical buildings. These museums have done a great job at preserving the historical site and encompassing it into the museum's activities. For the price, these museums are a steal and you must put it on your Savannah bucket list!
I am a mother and stepmother, fierce slayer of mental illness, writer and traveler. I love the constant change of the road, and the experiences it brings our family. We have learned so much being full-time RVers, and love the freedom this lifestyle gives us.