Chances to ride the vintage trains in Monticello were limited in 2020 but operations are returning this summer
Champaign-Urbana area families love to get a ticket and board a vintage diesel locomotive for a train ride through Monticello
If you have a train fan in your family or are just looking for something special to do, you will be thrilled to learn that Monticello Railway Museum is operating its weekend trains again in 2021.
During the 2020 season, nearly all events at Monticello Railway Museum were canceled due to COVID-19 with the exception being the exclusive “Throttle Time” opportunity to drive a train yourself (for the price tag of $150).
This year, however, some of the more budget-friendly opportunities Champaign-Urbana area families have enjoyed at Monticello Railway are returning.
The “Fireworks Special” is ON for the evening of July 3, when Monticello has its annual fireworks spectacular. Riders purchase tickets to ride the train to and from Lodge Park and avoid the car traffic and congestion at the park. Choose from the dinner train, with a full dinner in the restored dining cars, or the regular fireworks train, which just takes you to and from the park.
Mother’s Day and Father’s Day
The annual Mother’s Day and Father’s Day rides are happening on those respective weekends. On Mother’s Day, moms ride FREE when riding with their children (similar deal for dads on Father’s Day).
Regular Weekend Rides
The Railway offers Saturday and Sunday rides from May through September. Riders can leave from the Monticello Railway Museum site or downtown Monticello and purchase a round trip ticket for their ride. Visit their website to view the schedule and purchase tickets online.
Round-trip fares for 2021 are $10 for adults, $8 for seniors 62 and up, $6 for children 2-12 and free for children under 2. Pricing may vary for special events.
What We Love/Tips for your Visit
Monticello Railway Museum offers a lot more than just train rides! And the museum itself does not have a charge, so regardless of who may or may not be riding the train in your party, your train fanatics can get up close and personal with the real deal — every weekend. The museum was closed to visitors in 2020; we hope at least some exhibit cars and buildings are open in 2021.
When you’re riding the train, if you do get off at the Wabash Depot, you can walk one block over to Nick’s Community Playground, with castle-like play structures calling your kids to play. Dairy Queen is slightly further, just about two or three blocks away. Whatever you do, don’t miss the last return train of the day back to Nelson Crossing Depot if that’s where you parked!
About the Polar Express
While the beyond-popular Polar Express tickets usually go on sale in June, in 2021 the Polar Express ticket sale will begin sometime during September. (The Polar Express was canceled altogether in 2020 due to the pandemic.) We will be sure to let you know when any announcements are made.