Roaming Roanoke: Salem Museum

This week for Roaming Roanoke, we mixed fun and education. We roamed to the Salem Museum!

I featured the Salem Museum’s online video series last month. This time we visited the actual museum building! Part of the Salem Museum’s holiday exhibit includes a model train. It is set-up through the end of January. My 6-year-old son LOVES trains, so we have seen it in past years. Assistant Museum Director Alex Burke told us the model train is BIGGER AND BETTER than ever before, so of course we had to go see it! We invited train-loving friends to go with us too!

The model train lived up to the hype! It is set-up on the bottom floor of the museum and is quite large! The model town is sort-of a replica of Salem and surrounding areas with items decades ago and current times. You can enjoy seeing dinosaurs mixed with Scooby-Doo and relics from the area’s past and present all together! It is a fun display! They even have a “game” posted with a list of items to find inside the model train exhibit. The kids enjoyed that too! 

The model train also has several different types of engines and cars. Assistant Director Burke changed them out for us during the visit. The steam engine with actual steam coming out was a huge hit with all of the train-loving kids! The kids also got some STEAM-based learning while discussing and observing how each type of engine pulls cars of different shapes and sizes around the track, up the hills, and down the hills. All of the kids in our group could have watched the model train for hours!

The Salem Museum also has several exhibits set-up for the whole family to see. The 1920’s exhibit was fun to see everything from fashion to icons from a century ago. The Salem Museum’s website says, “The exhibit includes personal stories, artifacts, and photographs that explore everyday life—and the nightlife—of the Roaring Twenties. Icons of the decade are also included: a still that produced a lot of moonshine in the ‘20s and several flamboyant flapper dresses from the Museum’s collection.” My five-year-old daughter especially liked seeing the flapper dresses.

Another exhibit is one on Salem’s Champions. The museum describes it, “…we share the stories of Salem’s many Champions in athletics, academics, the arts, and civic and professional life! In our new gallery, ‘A Winning Tradition: Salem’s Champions’ Gallery’, we showcase Salem students and residents who have been recognized with a first place win at the state level or above. This permanent installation, designed by Museum Assistant Director Alex Burke, features both traditional exhibits and an interactive kiosk to preserve all of our Champions’ stories.” The kids enjoyed seeing so many old uniforms and artifacts and learning about sports here. 

Other exhibits include the extensive history of the area. Even though all of the kids in our group that day are age 6 and under, they still enjoyed seeing swords, Civil War artifacts, historical pictures, Lakeside amusement park memorabilia (the kids can’t believe there used to be a roller coaster near us), and old toys (my five year-old daughter was fascinated by the old dolls). The museum artifacts open the door for conversations for young kids to start learning history. We as adults also enjoyed learning the history of the area and seeing historical items. The Salem Museum is educational for all ages!

The Salem Museum follows all Covid pandemic restrictions with masks, social distancing, etc. It is stroller-friendly and has restrooms. It is a great place to visit during these winter months when you need an indoor activity, plus it is educational for all ages! We went for the model train and stayed to see everything else!

The Salem Museum is located next to Longwood Park at 801 East Main St. It is FREE. It is open Tuesdays-Saturdays, 10:00-4:00. You can find more information at

If you have a place for Roaming Roanoke to visit, please let us know!

More Roaming Roanoke

Angela Evans

Angela Evans is a former tv reporter turned stay-at-home mom. She and her husband Cody have three children. They moved to Virginia in 2018. When she’s not Roaming Roanoke, she is probably drinking sweet tea, reading a book or dancing.
Share This: