Railroad Days celebrates trains and the railroad history of Omaha and Council Bluffs. Held on July 13 and 14 in 2019, you have two days to explore each of the five venues participating in the event. I’ve taken the kids to Railroad Days in the past, so I can vouch for it being it being an affordable event for families.
This post was first published in 2018 and has been updated with 2019 event information.
Railroad Days venues
This event is definitely one for train aficionados, but even if trains aren’t your thing, you’ve got plenty to see and do. I always think of Railroad Days as a great staycation option to see Omaha and Council Bluffs attractions for one price.
Each location is open as usual, so in addition to the special activities planned for the weekend, this is a good time to explore their permanent exhibits, gardens, and historic artifacts.
The Durham Museum (801 S. 10th St., Omaha) – There will also be music by “Freight Train” Frank and the chance to talk with model railroad experts by the House of Trains on Track Level.
This year, visit the museum’s current traveling exhibition, “Tyrannosaurs: Meet the Family,” and see “Scotty” the largest and oldest T.rex ever discovered plus, 10 life-sized dinosaur specimens, including five complete tyrannosaurs cast skeletons.
Lauritzen Gardens (100 Bancroft St., Omaha) – The activities at Lauritzen Gardens are always a hit with my kids, especially the free mini train rides.
Things to see: Centennial No. 6900 and Big Boy No. 4023 locomotives at Kenefick Park, model train railroad garden, LEGO brick rail yard, and Paul Siebert performing railroad ditties, and this year, go on The Great Gnome Escape summer scavenger hunt.
RailsWest Railroad Museum (1512 S. Main St., Council Bluffs) – Don’t miss the chance to visit the train yard, climbing aboard old steam engines, cabooses and cars. Indoors, there’s a large H.O. scale model train layout.
Visitors can also be a part of the first ever Live Garden Scale Steam Up in the train yard.
Union Pacific Railroad Museum (200 Pearl St., Council Bluffs) – Visitors are invited to reflect on the 150th anniversary of the completion of the transcontinental railroad through the exhibit, “Hidden Histories of the Transcontinental Railroad.”
During Railroad Days, special Chinese Lion Dance performances by the Jing Mo Tong Athletic Association will be presented on the hour from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., in addition to cultural exhibitions hosted by the Nebraska Chinese Association.
At this museum, my kids loved pretending to “detonate” explosives – go look for it in one of the permanent inside the museum.
Historic General Dodge House (605 Third St., Council Bluffs) – Here’s the chance to walk through the house of the man called “the greatest railroad builder of all time.” The 1869 Victorian home is on a National Historic Landmark.
The new exhibit at the house allows visitors a glimpse of how people in Dodge’s day spent their leisure time.
New venue in 2019
There’s a new stop included in the 2019 Railroad Days: Union Pacific’s Home Plate (1001 N. 11th St., Omaha). Visitors can see Union Pacific’s No. 4014, the “Big Boy” steam locomotive and explore the Experience Union Pacific rail car. No. 4014 is the world’s only operating Big Boy locomotive.
The Experience the Union Pacific Rail Car is a new, multi-media walk-through exhibition providing a glimpse at the past while telling the story of modern-day railroading.
Food at Railroad Days
Each location has food/snacks and beverages available for purchase. I’ve only dined at Lauritzen Gardens and The Durham Museum. If you’re looking to cool off, the Durham soda fountain sells a delicious root beer float.
Food and beverages are not included in the ticket price.
Railroad Days Family Passes
Family passes are quite the deal. Family Passes are $15, and available for purchase at any participating venue during the event. The Family Pass for Railroad Days gets two adults and their dependents (or grandchildren) under the age of 18 in to the venues as well as admission to the trolley/bus transportation between the locations.
Even if you’re just purchasing the pass for yourself, you save money on admission to each place – the regular price of admission for a single adult to visit all five venues is $35.
A $5 pass is also available for one adult with the purchase of a Family Pass (limit one). Keep the wristbands on and they will be valid both days.
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