The annual celebration of trains and railroad history, Railroad Days, takes place in Council Bluffs, Iowa, this year on Saturday, Sept. 24, at various landmarks and locations. While the appeal to railroading fans is clear, it’s also a super family-friendly day full of train-themed activities for a low cost!
Disclosure: This post is sponsored by the Council Bluffs Convention & Visitors Bureau. This post may contain affiliate links. At no extra cost to you, I will earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase.
I’ve taken my family to Railroad Days events in the past, and I’m relieved that it’s been moved to September. It was a little too hot and humid for touring old train cars in the middle of July!
Where are all the activities?
Railroad Days is at various venues around Council Bluffs, the city known as Mile Zero for Union Pacific Railroad. Locations — and their activities — will be open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Sept. 24.
The participating locations are:
- Historic General Dodge House, 605 S. Third St.
- Historic 100 Block of Council Bluffs, the 100 block of West Broadway
- Hoff Family Arts and Culture Center, 1001 S. Sixth St. (developed and managed by Pottawattamie Arts, Culture & Entertainment, or PACE)
- RailsWest Railroad Museum, 1512 S. Main St.
- Union Pacific Railroad Museum, 200 Pearl St.
Park and let someone else drive during Railroad Days
Ollie the Trolley will transport ticket holders to all venues from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. during Railroad Days. It will be one continuous loop, stopping at each venue.
Parking is available at:
- Pottawattamie County Courthouse parking lot (on the corner of Fifth Avenue and Pearl Street)
- Council Bluffs City Hall parking lot (south of City Hall building on South Main Street)
- Metered spots downtown (free on the day of the event) North and South on Pearl Street
- Historic General Dodge House parking lot (access on South Third Street)
- Hoff Family Arts & Culture Center parking lots (located on the south and west sides of the building, access on South Sixth Street)
- Metered spots on the Historic 100 Block of West Broadway
- Parking lot located one block North of the 100 Block of West Broadway (access on Vine Street)
How much is does Railroad Days cost?
The best part, in my opinion, of Railroad Days is that it’s pretty affordable for a family. Family passes are $10 per group, and that covers wristbands for two adults and unlimited children under 18. An additional adult pass can be purchased for $5.
It’s a great deal. The admission to the RailsWest Railroad Museum is usually $10 per adult and $5 for kids!
Skip the line and purchase passes in advance online. You’ll need to redeem the day of the event at the Union Pacific Railroad Museum, where each person will receive a wristband that allows you unlimited rides on the trolleys and admission to both the RailsWest Railroad Museum and the Historic General Dodge House.
Railroad Days wristbands also come with discounts and other benefits throughout Council Bluffs
Pick your family’s Railroad Days adventure
1. We want to see real trains.
- RailsWest Railroad Museum’s train yard has old steam engines, the Omaha Club Car, a 1918 cupola style caboose, and a 1967 bay window-style caboose.
2. We want to see miniature trains.
- RailsWest Railroad Museum has an impressive miniature train exhibit indoors.
- Union Pacific Railroad Museum has a miniature training running along an elevated track on the second floor of the museum.
3. We want hands-on activities.
- Union Pacific Railroad Museum will have activities outdoors on the lawn featuring local partners. The museum’s permanent exhibits feature various interactives from pretending to detonate dynamite or operating a train to tapping out Morse code.
- Hoff Family Arts & Culture Center will have interactive railroad-themed activities such as repairing train cogs, drawing futuristic trains, and building trains from random items.
4. We really want to be indoors.
- Union Pacific Railroad Museum has two floors of indoor exhibits.
- Tour Historic General Dodge House, which starts first with viewing the new orientation video and the local history displays inside the Beresheim House, just south of the Dodge House.
5. We want a food break.
- Businesses along the Historic 100 Block of West Broadway will have food and drink specials.
- Bottled water, hotdogs, hamburgers, and chips will be available outside the Historic General Dodge House.
Council Bluffs is a great place to explore, especially in the fall. If you would like more ideas on things to do in Council Bluffs, check out this post.