Scenic train ride not far from Chicago?We'd like to take our 3- and 5-year-olds on a scenic train trip that isn't too long for them. Is there anything we can get to without extensive driving from Chicago, where we live? - Beth, Chicago
If you're just looking for a kid-oriented day trip, try the Illinois Railway Museum in Union, between Marengo and Woodstock, northwest of Chicago. It's highly rated by parents, especially the Day Out With Thomas event, Aug. 13-15 and 21-22 in 2010, which includes a ride on Thomas the Tank Engine.
Admission is $12 weekends and holidays, $8 for children 3-11, including short rides on electric cars and trains. On weekdays, it's $8 and $4.
For a somewhat scenic ride through the countryside, drive up to southeast Wisconsin. The East Troy Electric Railroad runs six miles from the Electric Railroad Museum in East Troy to the Elegant Farmer farm market in Mukwonago, where there's a layover for lunch or a snack.
The Elegant Farmer serves sandwiches from its deli and is known for its pies baked in paper bags. There's freshly made caramel corn, ice cream and cookies draped in thick icing.
Outside the big yellow barn, there are tall wooden hobby horses for kids to ride. Fares are $12.50, $8 for children 3-11.
The trolley is the last remnant of Wisconsinís Interurban Line. There are many special trains, such as the Mother's Day Express May 9, when moms ride free. For those, buy tickets in advance.