10 Places for Train Lovers in Hampton Roads

My two guys are obsessed with trains. They wake up and play with trains before school; then we listen to Thomas the Train songs on the way to school. During school, they check out library books about trains, and when they get home, they race outside to ride on the play train in our backyard.  Here are ten places in Hampton Roads that all train lovers should see! 

01.  Lee Hall Train Depot: This museum stands at the Newport News Lee Hall train depot. Check their events for ones that kids will love, or visit and enjoy the whole children's room to yourself.

02. Railroad Museum of Virginia: Located in Portsmouth, this museum can be a little hard to find, because it is actually in a series of train cars. The museum is close to the downtown tunnel and is open Friday-Saturday from 10:00-4:00. 

03. U.S. Army Transportation Museum- This free museum is located on the Fort Eustis base, but it is open to the public. Stop and show your ID at the building to the right of the gate before you go in. There is a train yard outside full of different types of trains. 

04. Suffolk Seaboard Station Railroad Museum: This museum located in downtown Suffolk is a free stop for train lovers that has exhibits of railroad and Suffolk memorabilia. 

05. Children's Museum of Virginia- the Lancaster antiques are in display cases while a moving train exhibit represents different parts of Virginia. There are trains to play with also. 

06. Ride The Tide: Our train riding kiddos love to take the Tide around Norfolk. This is often an activity in itself for us, and since kids are free it's an inexpensive adventure! 

Limited Time: 

07. Selden Market: During the holidays check out Selden Market in downtown Norfolk where the Atlantic Coast "S" Gaugers set up their free hands on exhibit. The kids will want to push every button! 

08. Tidewater Big Train Operators 2021 Annual Holiday Train Display: This display is set up in the Avalon Church of Christ every Christmas season and is completely free for families to attend! 

09. World's Greatest Hobby on Tour: This tour travels to Hampton Roads annually and features 50,000 square feet of operation railroads. This tour can usually be found at the Hampton Roads Convention Center. 

10. WinterFest On The Wisconsin: Located down within the ship is a very cool train room which highlights some old school toys. 

Where to Ride: 

  • Busch Gardens: The train runs all  year, but has a special light show over the holidays.
  • Smokey Pokey II: Portsmouth City Park, runs seasonally 
  • Virginia Zoo Train: Runs most of the year, when weather is appropriate
  • Botanical Gardens: Tram runs spring-fall at the top of the hour. Included in admission
  • Barrel Train: This train travels around, but can be found many Saturdays at Hickory Ridge Farm 

Water Play in Hampton Roads

Western Branch Community Center



Hampton Rec Center Pools

Peninsula Town Center Pop Fountains - Free and open to the public 

Newport News: 

Denbigh Community Center- Splash Pad

Doris Miller Community Center Pool and Spray Play Area

Fort Eustis Splash Pad and Park 



Botanical Gardens

Virginia Zoo 

Town Point Park - Free splashpad in the park, close to Waterside 

Shoop Park Splash Pad- free and open to the public 

The Beach: Three guarded beaches with free parking and lots of unguarded beach throughout Ocean View. 
YMCA- Norfolk has two YMCAs, one with an indoor and one with an outdoor pool. 

Norview Rec Center Splash Pad- free and open to the public 

Norfolk Rec Center Pools (Northside, Huntersville, Southside, Berkley, Chesterfield)

The Kroc Center


Portsmouth Splash Park - Free and open to the public 

Westbury Splash Park Cavalier Manor Pool- $1 admission to the public 



Cypress Park Pool


Virginia Beach:

Gator Pool- (military only)

Oceana's Aeropalms Water Park (military only)

VB Rec center pools (Williams Park has splash pad) 

Ocean Breeze Water Park 

Simon Family JCC



Busch Gardens

Water Country USA 

Great Wolf Lodge

Children's Museum of Richmond: Amtrak Exhibit

When I heard about Amtrak's new exhibit at the downtown Children's Museum in Richmond, I knew we had to check it out. The exhibit is small, but it has a train drawbridge which was exciting for the boys. Kids can climb aboard the train and sound the horn, drive the trains across the state on the Amtrak lines, play on the train table, and experiment with balancing load on train cars. 

Use your Children's Museum of Virginia membership to get in with a 50% discount. (I've stated before in previous posts that this can sometimes depend on who is working at the desk. I have been where they told me they wouldn't honor this. I've also been where they let us in for completely free. The rule should be 50% and they did follow that this time.) The museum is open Tuesday-Sunday 9:30-5:00. The museum has a new free parking garage just outside. Reservations are no longer required. 

A note about our visit, some changes have been made since our last post on this museum.  The splash pads have been taken out. Also the dinosaur dig part of the museum had nowhere to dig, rather was dinosaur statues to climb on. I'm not sure if either of these were because of Covid, but nothing has replaced these areas to date. 

I love that Children's  Museums offer ways to learn through play. The boys had a great time and asked us to go back and visit soon. 

Other posts on Richmond here: 

Virginia Museum of History & Culture

We were lucky enough to be in Richmond during the reopening of the Virginia Museum of History and Culture. The $30,000,000 renovation means a bigger building, more exhibition space, new exhibits, a new research library, and a new café and museum store.

It also means two new areas that for kids, Commonwealth Kids, about the changes in history through a child's point of view, and Commonwealth Explorers, which offers an exploration through play into Virginia's history. Here there is a store, a doctors section, mail carriers, and more. 

Stroll through the rest of the museum and checkout the changes in transportation over the years. Then stop in each region of Virginia to see the vast differences within our state. The museum is part of NARM, so you can use your Children's Museum of Virginia, or the Hermitage Museum membership to get in for free. 

Checkout some of our other Richmond posts here: 

Jungle Golf

We love to play tourist here in Hampton Roads. We headed down to the Oceanfront for the Purple Stride 5k and stopped by Jungle Golf. In addition to their 18 holes of outdoor mini-golf, there is an air conditioned game room. Jungle Golf has been in business for more than 40 years here in Virginia Beach and is open year round when the weather is nice. From Memorial Day to Labor Day they are open 24 hours most days. 

The café' sells fountain drinks, root beer floats, pretzels, popcorn, French fries, hot dogs, and ice cream. Snag a free popcorn with a drink coupon from the Monster Coupon Books all over the Oceanfront! 

Jungle Golf does offer birthday parties. They also offer a season pass with unlimited visits. They have their own parking lot, which is great for being at the oceanfront. When you pay the $14 to park, your game of golf, at the same cost, is free. Also, when you pay for a game you can play as many times as you'd like until 9 pm that night.