Catch a Train: World’s Best Model Railways

World’s Best Model Railways

I hate to admit it, but there is something special about model railways that appeals to my inner child.  Whether it’s a fun and whimsical theme or something with more serious historical theme, whenever I see there is a model railway available on my travels. And it was indeed a selfish choice to ensure we always have a train-themed travel deal every month in our special offers.

But enough about me – we’ve got a train to catch, figuratively speaking, with some of these world’s best model railways.

Miniatur Wunderland – Hamburg, Germany

We start out with one of the world’s biggest and best model railways: Miniatur Wunderland, in Hamburg.  The place is sprawling with various exhibits and rail lines, and they say it is one of the most popular tourist attractions in all of northern Germany so be prepared to wait for your turn.  By 2015 several new sections will be opened, making this the undisputed champ of model railways.  Be sure to check out the behind the tour for a fascinating (but narrow) perspective!

Miniature World – Victoria, Canada

After Vancouver sightseeing, I headed over to Victoria, the capital of British Columbia.  A little-known attraction in the bottom of the Empress Hotel is Miniature World, a great place to take children or escape rainy weather.  The model railway is great, but there are also standalone exhibits too, and the series about the circus coming to down makes this a model railway lover’s favourite.

Northlandz – Flemington, NJ, United States

If the best model railways take time to build, then after 25 years I think Northlandz deserved to be on the list.  With 8 miles of track and half a million trees, this place is more like a museum than a model railway.  This can make for a great daytrip from New York City if you’re so inclined, as it’s only about 1-1.5 hrs each way.

York Model Railway – York, England

best model railways

I loved all the fun things to do in York, one of my favourite cities in England.  But my feelings on the York Model Railway are mixed.  I love that each of their displays has both a day and night mode, which kind of gives you 2-for-1.  And some of the displays are so well done – I love the massive covered railway station you can see in the picture above.  Plus the model railway is inside the York Railway station, which makes for the perfect train-lover’s experience.  But the York railway is showing signs of age; in fact, a couple of displays looked like they might not make it around the next bend in the track.  A shame – places like this should be preserved, so give ‘em a visit when you’re next in York.

LOXX – Berlin, Germany

LOXX is another railroader paradise: from accurate examples of each style of German trains, to an active airport (including takeoffs and landings) and even cars driving around, LOXX is definitely one of the best model railways.  It’s near Alexanderplatz; the place is so big it even has a map, so be sure to check it so you don’t miss any of the exhibits.

Gainsborough Model Railway – Gainsborough, England

best model railways

Enthusiasts say one of the best model railways in the UK is the Gainsborough Model Railway.  This model railway is so accurate it requires several operators to actually run the train line that is a replica of the East Coast express from London King’s Cross station to Leeds.  The exhibit is not open on a regular basis, so be sure to check the website for opening times.

San Diego Railway Museum – San Diego, California, United States

If you can tear yourself away from San Diego’s gorgeous harbour and cosmopolitan Gaslamp district, you simply must head for the San Diego Model Railway Museum in Balboa Park.  The various twists and turns in the gorgeous railway lines here are noteworthy as some of the best model railways because of their accuracy: they have been built based on real routes and thousands of photographs were used to ensure the models are as similar to their real-world counterparts as possible.  Balboa Park has several museums and gardens, so be sure to save some time during your trip to explore this area properly.

Carnegie Science Center – Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, United States

At the Carnegie Science Center it Pittsburgh, it’s not just a railroad that you get, but an entire village: accompanying one of the best model railways on the east coast is a series of exhibits with painstakingly detailed animations, including boats that travel in a tiny river!  The Miniature Railroad and Village is a must-see if you’re in Pittsburgh, as well as the other excellent attractions in this museum.

Bekonscot Model Village & Railway – Beaconsfield, England

Bekonscot is the world’s oldest model railway village, built in the 1920s by account Roland Callingham.  He built it originally for private use and probably didn’t envision it being one of the world’s most popular and best model railways. There are literally hundreds of village scenes, comprised from a set of six English towns that are replicas from the 1930s when the site was built.  Apart from the railway, there are plenty of other fun exhibits and attractiosn for both adults and children.

Museum of Science + Industry – Chicago, Illinois, United States

We close the list of the world’s best model railways in the ‘windy city’ of Chicago.  The world-class Museum of Science and Industry isn’t in our list of the best Chicago neighborhoods, it is a destination of its own.  Their Great Train Story shows the sights and sounds of a railway line that travels from Chicago all the way to Seattle on the west coast. It’s well worth a visit, and of course check out the other exhibits here in this superb facility.

Photos by, Everyspoon, howard.hall, lckchw, Eugene R, San Diego Railway Museum, marada, time_w2s, MrTinDC

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