UPDATED JULY 2019: This post was written in 2017. This post will still give you a general idea of what to expect at the Connecticut Trolley Museum; however please note that some things may have changed. Admission prices have been updated in this post for 2019.
I feel like I have failed my son as his mother.
So, clearly, I have a train-obsessed child. I think I have mentioned that once or twice, or a few million times, before.
I literally live like ten minutes from Connecticut Trolley Museum, TEN MINUTES, and in his three years of life, two of which have been spent obsessing over trains, we have yet to visit this place.
What is wrong with me? Mom fail. Big time.
My child was the happiest little boy in the whole world last Friday when we finally visited the CT Trolley Museum in East Windsor for their Easter Fun Day special event. We took a trolley ride; he played on real, live trolley cars; he played with an awesome train table; watched an Easter train movie; and even played outside on a wooden train playscape. It was a train-loving little boy’s dream come true.
And I felt so bad that this was our first visit. We should have moved into this place by now. This should already be our established summer home.
There is no excuse… I hang my head in shame.
Regardless, we had an incredible first visit and I cannot WAIT to share it all with you!
(from Google Maps)
The Connecticut Trolley Museum is located just over a half a mile from the highway, on the right. There is a sign that you won’t miss.
The parking lot is accessed through the only entrance to the museum.
The parking lot is a dirt lot, but it is very spacious. We went on the morning of a special event, and while it was pretty full, there was still plenty of space to park.
The grounds of the Trolley Museum include the railway line, a trolley station, a large grassy area, the visitor center (and main museum), the CT Fire Truck Museum, and the Dining & Birthday Party Car. They gave me this handy map on the day we visited (it includes some of the special Easter activities on it, but the basic layout is on the map).
When you arrive, you’ll want to head straight to the Visitor Center to purchase your admission tickets.
Upon entering the building, you’ll be in the foyer which has a train table and a small area for seating.
The gift shop is to your left, and this is where you’ll go to purchase tickets.
General admission ticket prices are $11 for adults, $10 for seniors, $8 for children, and children under 3 are free. Prices may be adjusted for special events. Many local libraries offer admission discounts through their museum pass program, so if you are looking on ways to save, definitely check that out (note that the museum pass usually does not work for special events). The Trolley Museum is non-profit though, so this is one of those places where I don’t mind paying for admission!!
They also offer museum memberships, which gets you half off admission on all major events and FREE admission on non-event days for the year!
Since the admission counter is right in the gift shop, you can either get the shopping over with right away, or save it for later (or make a run for it before your child talks you into buying more trains)!
We decided to check out the indoor activities first. Since we were there for their Easter event, they had a few special activities going on including a scavenger hunt. So we headed into the visitor center to start the scavenger hunt and look at all the trolleys.
And they certainly have a lot of trolleys! A couple of them can only be viewed from the outside, but they have several that you can climb aboard, sit in a passenger seat, or even pretend to drive!
He had an awesome time climbing on board and pretending to be the trolley driver!
They had a few special activities inside for the Easter event, including coloring stations, a dress up area, popcorn for sale, and of course, a visit with the Easter Bunny!
After we checked out the rest of the Visitor’s Center, we headed towards the back of the Trolley Museum towards the Fire Museum.
They have a few different antique fire trucks and equipment. These awesome antiques are unfortunately roped off and are just there for your viewing pleasure. You won’t be able to climb onto these!
Right outside the fire museum, we spotted this cool airport shuttle from Bradley Airport! I never knew that Bradley had shuttles, did you?
I decided that since we were outside, we would head over to take a trolley ride. The trolleys run every half hour, on the hour. We had just missed the 11:30 a.m. trolley, but my child was ready to sit on the other trolley. For a half hour. I did not know how that would work but he was convinced he wanted to wait on board.
There are two trolleys that take off every half hour, so you are able to board the car as soon as it’s empty. However, once the returning trolley comes in, the departing one takes off. So you’ll want to board it as early as your child can handle to make sure you get a seat and also so you don’t miss it. Today, they had an open-air trolley running, as well as a closed car. You can take as many trolley rides as you want, unlimited rides are included with admission. We decided to just take one ride, but I think when we visit again, he’ll want to go on at least two rides!
The trolleys are antiques, and for that reason, you’ll want to be mindful of their condition. The closed car has it’s original glass windows, and as such, they asked that the kids not tap on it. They also have the original seating fabric and woodwork. You’ll want to also keep the food or drinks packed away in respect for these beautiful old trolleys.
The trolley ride is about 3 miles, and takes maybe 15 to 20 minutes. It goes through the woods and you’ll see more of their trolley and locomotive collection along the tracks. They take a small break at the end of the line for the drive to switch the cable and move to the back of the trolley for the return trip.
The length is honestly perfect for a small child. My boy was in train heaven. He was enthralled at the sights outside the window. He was a little restless during the stop when they had to take to switch the cables, but then he snuggled into my lap for the return ride and watched the sights from the other direction. There were some little ones on our ride that did not like the loud noise the horn made when it crossed over the road and a few of them grew restless; but overall, most of the children on the trolley with us were having a blast!
After the trolley ride, we were able to get a great photo op with one of the drivers! These guys are all great and super nice! They are happy to answer any of your questions and teach you even more about trolleys.! We really appreciate that this driver took a minute to pose with my boy!
We decided to stay outside for a little while and check out the wooden train playscape. This was quite the spot for the kids today! It was a gorgeous day and we enjoyed being outside!
They encourage families to pack a picnic lunch and enjoy their huge green lawn!
We headed back inside to turn in his scavenger hunt and collect his prize egg. We also discovered the theater while we were inside as well. They had an Easter train movie showing at the time, and he was enraptured by that!
Right by the theater, I also spotted their restrooms. The ladies room had a changing table inside as well. In this same corridor, they also have vending machines with snacks and drinks, and food is also for sale in the gift shop.
Of course, I lost him once more to the train table before we could leave, but he was in his happy place so I let him enjoy himself for a while longer.
We had a great morning at the Connecticut Trolley Museum for their Easter Fun Day event. I cannot wait to go back this summer for another fun visit! I have no excuse now since it’s right near my house, I know how much my boy loved it, and it’s really cheap to visit! I see many trips in fact, and possibly even a birthday party here as well. (Yes, you can have a party here, and it sounds spectacular!!)
So if you have not yet visited the CT Trolley Museum, you need to go soon- either during their regular season, or for a special event: Easter Bunny Fun Day in April, Pumpkin Patch in October or even Winterfest during the holidays. They also have tons of great events during the summertime, and they also offer some adult-only events including a Wine Event, photography events and a scary Halloween train ride. The kids will love the trolley ride, and so will you!
This about sums it up…
8 North Road (CT 14) – East Windsor, Connecticut
April to October – OPEN Saturday and Sunday: 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
Mid June to Labor Day OPEN Daily (closed Tuesdays): 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
After Labor Day until October 1- OPEN Saturday and Sunday: 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
October, November and December: OPEN for special events.
**See their website for special events (specific dates and time)
3 & under: Free
**Prices may be adjusted for special events.
Many local town libraries offer reduced or free admission with their museum pass. Make sure to check with your town library to see if this is offered! The Trolley Museum also offers a membership which includes free regular admission and half priced special event admission in its annual fee.
- Free Parking!
- Large parking lot with plenty of available spaces
- Stroller Friendly (overall, however there are some rocky paths that can be tricky to maneuver on, and strollers are not allowed on the train)
- Bathrooms and Changing Station
- Vending machines offering beverages and snacks
- Gift Shop on-site
- Unlimited trolley rides included in admission
- Cash or credit card accepted (except American Express)