I know how hard it is to get young kids out of the house to go somewhere - even quick outings require you to pack enough snacks, diapers, and toys to make you think you’ll be gone for a week. And who wants to wrestle kids in and out of carseats just to find out that your destination isn’t kid-friendly? That’s why I’ve decided to visit Triangle area sites to see if they’re worth your trip. I won’t use a rating system but I’ll try to describe what you’ll see well enough for you to decide if your kids would find it interesting. I’ll also give you the heads up on bathrooms, stroller accessibility and any other SNAFUs I encounter.


North Carolina Railway Museum - Bonsal (near Apex)


        As a special treat to my toddler who loves trains, we came out here on a Saturday afternoon. I wanted to see if showing him real trains would make his little toddler head spin around. Sure enough, as soon as we entered the rail yard he was pointing at everything and commentating in his excited toddler gibberish.

      The website gives good directions on how to find the place; it's outside of Apex but right inside Holly Springs City Limits. The main attraction is the train rides which will start again for the 2011 season on May 1st. But if you've got a couple of hours to kill you can come out and see several types of train cars up close and personal.

        Don't be disappointed by what you see when you pull into the parking lot - the main yard with all of the train cars is across the pedestrian bridge that takes you over the highway. There are three cabooses, two steam engines, a boxcar, tank car, mail car, and lots of other train equipment. In front of each train car is a plaque explaining the use and history of that car. There did not appear to be a lot of facilities for potty breaks so you might want to get your kids to take care of that before they get to the museum. There is a large gas station further down Old US 1 South that you could probably use for its' potty facilities. There is a gift shop on site that is open on days when there are scheduled rides.
       The site is run by volunteers who were very friendly and eager to help us. One man totally looked the part of a genuine engineer as he climbed down from a steam engine wearing soot-stained coveralls. Another volunteer opened up the mail car for us to tour and explained how a mail car worked. He also opened up a restored caboose for us and let us sit in the top roost of it. The volunteers are obviously very committed to this attraction. On the Saturday that we were out, there were volunteers building a new ticket station and making improvements to the garden scale model railroad near the parking lot.

interior of mail car
       Ride schedules and ticket sales can be found on the website. I definitely plan on coming back for one of the scheduled rides. You'll be able to recognize me - I'll be the guy with the toddler that can't stop saying "Toot, toot!"

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