Roaming Roanoke: Virginia Museum of Transportation

This week’s blogging destination is one of my son’s favorite places, the Virginia Museum of Transportation!

My son LOVES trains! We went to the Virginia Museum of Transportation before we even found a place to live here. We have been to the Virginia Museum of Transportation many times in our almost two years living in the Roanoke Valley. My son’s birthday was last week. We told him we would go wherever he wanted to go on his birthday, and he picked the transportation museum!

This was our first time at the museum since the pandemic started, and there are several changes in some exhibits due to the pandemic. I’ll fill you in on those in a moment.

First of all, the Virginia Museum of Transportation is the perfect place to go for train, plane, or automobile lovers of any age! The exhibits include TRAINS, TRAINS, and more TRAINS (this is why my son loves it!), plus railroad history, but that isn’t all. Exhibits are also dedicated to historic automobiles, airplanes and aviation history, and even buses. The outdoor yards have plenty of trains but also fire engines, buses, carriages, tractors, and more! My kids also enjoy seeing just how big the train engines and rail cars are outside. The wheels on the 1218 are taller than we are!

Due to the pandemic, you cannot go into some of the engines and vehicles outside. The museum’s indoor interactive activities are also blocked off or removed for health and safety precautions. The child’s playroom with toys is closed. These are all things that my children have always enjoyed and were disappointed they could not do them this time. The model trains are running and that is always something my children enjoy watching. My one-year-old really liked watching the moving model trains this time too. The model trains include Thomas the Train and Spongebob Squarepants.

The museum admission is reduced during the health and safety restrictions. It is $8 for adults, $6 for seniors and ages 13-18, and $4 for 3-12 years. Age under 3 are free. The museum is open Tuesday-Saturday from 10:00-5:00. It is in downtown Roanoke in the 1918 Vintage N&W freight station at 303 Norfolk Ave. SW. 

The museum is very stroller-friendly indoors.  Outside in the railyard, it is difficult to get a stroller down to the yard or into any of the engines or rail cars when they are open. 

The bathrooms are open. There are also family bathrooms which really help with young children! There is no food there on normal days (events typically have food!), but the downtown location means restaurants are just a short drive or walk away.

There is plenty of space in the museum to spread out for social distancing. Masks are also required within the state guidelines.

The Virginia Museum of Transportation typically holds events and train rides around some holidays. We have been to several of them (Halloween, Christmas, Train Lover’s Day). I am not sure what the future holds for its events because of the pandemic, but I just wanted to say that my kids always enjoyed the train rides and events in the past! We will go again when it is safe for them to hold events.

By the way, the Virginia Museum of Transportation Facebook page has #VMTGO series where workers do live segments with trains or other features and teach the history of it. It’s a good way to learn about the region’s history whether for school or pleasure!

Now it is onto the next place! If you have a suggestion for us to visit, please let me know!

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.
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