Worth the Drive :: Traintastic in Gulfport, MS
About an hour and a half away from New Orleans in Gulfport, MS, lies an absolute gem of a museum: Traintastic. In fact, calling it a “museum” is almost a disservice, as it’s really so much more.
Previously known as the Mississippi Coast Model Railroad Museum, which my family visited in 2021, it has since expanded in a new building, going from a model railway museum to a fully interactive space complete with indoor playground, hands-on model building, and more. My family recently visited the new space, and we were blown away by the sheer size of it all!
Traintastic holds the title of the world’s largest model railroad museum. If you have a train-obsessed child, you have GOT to make a trip out to Gulfport. Even if your kid isn’t a train fanatic, it’s still worth making this a part of a day or weekend trip to Gulfport. Here’s why:
Traintastic: It’s Just “Train” Fun!
The experience starts in a room built to look like the interior of a train, with a row of screens on one side acting like windows– my kids felt like they were riding a real train! From there, we moved on to the main attraction.
Rooms upon rooms of model trains and scenery– the sheer number of model trains on display is nearly unbelievable, and the scenes in which these trains chug along stretch far and wide. From mountains to towns to trainyards and more, there’s always a train whizzing by for you to follow and explore.
Beyond the realistic scenery that most of the model trains drive through, there are a couple of enormous displays dedicated to Lego trains and scenes! My Lego-loving boy was just as thrilled to explore these tables as he was to watch the regular models. Set after set are pieced together to form an extensive landscape. The classic Lego details are a feast for the eyes!
Hands On Involvement
Buttons are scattered throughout the displays for kids to press, with signs indicating what each button does. This one starts the black train; this one starts the red train; this one lights up the railroad crossing sign; this one makes a whistle sound; and so on! There are stools everywhere for kids to get a better view– a truly appreciated detail. One of the displays even allows children to crawl under the supporting table and pop up within the model itself. And don’t forget to grab your scavenger hunt paper at the start of the museum– kids will love searching the models for tiny details and completing their hunt.
Once you emerge from the fantasies offered by the models, the floor opens up into a huge S.T.E.M. area for kids and adults alike to get hands-on with science. From sensory areas to displays depicting scale to an interactive green screen, kids can learn more about model building and how trains work.
Moving on from the S.T.E.M. floor, there is an entire indoor play place where my kids spent nearly two hours. They donned engineer and conductor costumes and pretended to drive the child-sized, four-car train, using an intercom between cars, hoisting goods up on a crane and depositing them, and cooking up play food in the gallery car. They also played at large train tables, scrambled up the ceiling-high climbing structure to slide down and built with giant blocks. It strongly reminded me of a children’s museum! My two year old enjoyed the separate toddler play area and riding the small ride-on Thomas the Train engines. Personally, I was thrilled to have all these free-play options inside with air conditioning.
Outside, my kids rode around the yard and through a tunnel on the outdoor train and used a hand crank to propel themselves on tiny trains along a track. There was covered seating for adults, a blessing in the southern summer, along with a little free library.
There were plenty of friendly, helpful employees around every corner and several builders actively cutting wood and designing even more model scenery. We were fully immersed in the world of model trains, and my kids would have stayed all day if we let them!
If you’re making a weekend trip to Gulfport, make sure to include this on your list of spots to visit, along with the beaches, Lynn Meadows Discovery Center, and the Mississippi Aquarium! I can’t overstate how much fun my kids had at Traintastic– and I hope if you’ve got a train lover, you make the drive and have a blast!