Free LA: Santa Susanna Train Museum

I decided I'm going to do a little ongoing series about fun and free LA activities. LA is an expensive place to live but there are some great things to do that don't cost anything. I've already mentioned a few of them. (Mostly I'm looking at you, Science Center.) I'm not sure how frequently I'll do these, but we'll see how it goes.

One of our recent free finds is the Santa Susanna Train Museum and adjacent park. It's not technically in LA, I guess, but right next door in Simi Valley. Since we live about 3 freeway exits away, it's definitely close enough for us. It's an old railroad station that was moved and turned into a small train museum and model train display. The museum only has a couple of rooms but you can blow a train whistle, play with a telegraph and teletype machine and see old train-related paraphernalia. And get a sticker, which is a big hit with the 4 year old crowd.

The highlight for us is definitely the very large model railroad exhibit which has a very active group of railroad enthusiasts (very enthused enthusiasts!) who take the model railroad extremely seriously. Apparently they occasionally have get togethers where they run the trains on a schedule and move freight around. The railroad is fashioned after the California coast, which is also kind of neat.
The museum is located right next to a fairly active railroad line, so in addition to seeing model trains, you can also see the real thing.

Last time we were there they even had free popcorn.
After checking out the model trains and museum, you can walk over to the park. It's not a huge park but is probably my favorite in LA. There is lots of shade, a good playground, lots of picnic tables and grassy areas. Plus bathrooms and waterfountains. The highlights for me, though, are these huge boulders you can climb on and around.  The playground is also right next to the train track, so you may get to see even more trains going by. I wish I had more photos of the cool boulders, but this was basically all I could find.There are also live oak trees in the park, which I love because they remind me of living in Charleston. It's beautiful.

On the drive home, there are several curvy canyon roads you can drive down for some other nice views of the city. If you're lucky, your kids will be so worn out from the trains and climbing that they'll fall asleep.


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