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Saturday, December 26, 2015

St. Charles: Christmas Village and Train Display

St. Charles -- The Christmas Village and Train Display at St. Charles Free Methodist Church delighted my boys when we stopped by on the day after Christmas. A layout of more than 10 tracks and 100 houses (according to their website) gives visitors plenty to see. Familiar friends from the island of Sodor zip around one hillside, while the wintertime village is encircled by model railroad cars of mid-century vintage, both diesel and steam. Local landmarks such as Blue Goose Grocery and a Saints-North Stars football game appear as well. 
The Christmas-themed display remains up for guests of all ages on Saturday afternoons in January, 1 p.m. till 6 p.m. The church is located at 214 Walnut Street, St. Charles. 

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

South Elgin: Toys R Us

A kid-sized Percy! 

South Elgin -- On a rainy day, it's always good to know where to find train play tables. For kids, of course, any day is a good day to explore Toys R Us. The train aisle in the South Elgin store is easy to find, thanks to a kid-sized Percy on one end and an "Explore Sodor" hands-on display on the other. The standard retail Thomas play table sits in the middle of the generously-sized aisle. This being a toy store, finding any spot where the kids want to stay put for more than two minutes is a good thing!

Fun for boys of all ages.
(Our resident girl was inspecting art and horse toys.) 

Toys R Us/Babies R Us of South Elgin is located at 486 Randall Road. 

Saturday, May 30, 2015

Trainspotting: Bartlett

Trainspotting at Bartlett station
"The closest we've ever been to a new Metra!" 
(That's a MP36PH-3S,  for those keeping track at home.)

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Winfield: Gnarly Knots

View from the door of Gnarly Knots
Winfield, Illinois -- As the real-estate professionals often tell us, a good site is all about "location, location, location." Translated for grown-ups escorting small ones that means: "trains and food." May I present to you the culinary wonder that is Gnarly Knots of Winfield. Perhaps like my children, your little folk prefer to get all their dietary needs met through snacking. Gnarly Knots can oblige with a meal-sized pretzel the size of a kid's adorable salty face. Flavors change daily (and sell out quickly), but salted, cheese and pretzel dogs are favorites. Popular as this place is, you might find yourself standing in line for a moment or two. Not to worry. Gnarly Knots is conveniently situated just across the street from the tracks of Union Pacific's West Line. Waiting isn't waiting if it's staring at a Metra zipping by or a UP engine idling on the tracks. (Maybe the engineers needed a snack, too.) Gnarly Knots is just down the road from Hedges Station Depot, if you need sustenance after a railroad museum visit and a park outing. It's also just around the corner from the Central DuPage Hospital campus, making it even better than a sticker for a post check-up treat. 

Gnarly Knots: 27W570 High Lake Road, Winfield, IL 
Welcome to Gnarly Knots!

Aurora: DCM @ The Mall

Welcome to DCM @ The Mall
Aurora, Illinois -- The need for an indoor playdate recently brought my family to Westfield Fox Valley Mall and the temporary quarters of DuPage Children's Museum, or DCM @ the Mall.  In January, the museum's Naperville building flooded due to a burst pipe. Thanks to a partnership with Fox Valley Mall, the children's museum currently has several of its exhibits set up in a storefront near the second level of Carson Pirie Scott. Patrons of are invited to "pay as you will," then enjoy exhibits such as magnetic tiles, blocks, "Ramps and Rollers" and the Creativity Studio. (Classes are also offered at this location.) To my delight, this scaled-down version of DCM engaged my children with  building exhibits that they often skip in favor of the flashier activities at the "real" museum. With no noisy water table or wind tunnel to entice them, all the kids in our group were eagerly creating giant Tinker Toy towers, magnetic title structures and complex marble runs. In a nod to the Metra trains that pass DCM's Naperville site, two colorful trains flank the entrance of DCM @ The Mall and welcome imaginary engineering. Fox Valley's trackless train has been cleverly routed past DCM @ The Mall giving that same, "Hey, look! A Train!" moment indoors that guests have watching real diesel engines from the windows of the Naperville museum.

DCM @ The Mall is a perfect rainy day outing or any-day trek with the littles. Combined with  shopping for the grownups and the mall's other activities for kids (Playspace! Bungee Bounce!), Fox Valley Mall makes it easy to spend several hours being well entertained.

Fox Valley Mall is on the west side of Illinois Route 59 between New York Street and McCoy Drive.

Make your own tracks!

Two colorful trains flank the entrance of DCM @ The Mall

Someone is disappointed that the mall's trackless train left without taking him along for the ride!

Schaumburg: Legoland

Schaumburg, Illinois -- During the holidays, our family took a long-promised trip to Legoland Discovery Center in honor of Eldest Child's birthday. Here are a few views of the El as portrayed in the Miniland Chicago exhibit. According to Legoland's website, almost two million bricks are used to depict Chicago's landmarks. 

The El zips back and forth 

Brick city at night