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New York Transit Museum

Visiting the New York Transit Museum with kids.

Bubba's affection for moving vehicles runs deep.

We're heavily entrenched in the "Thomas & Friends " phase of toddler-hood, completely unprompted of course. It all began after a trip up to the New York Botanical Garden this past Christmas for the Holiday Train Show. Since then, it's been nothing but planes, trains, and automobiles. Well, except for Curious George. What is it with toddlers and narrated cartoons?

Funny enough, when I open his bedroom door in the morning, the first thing he usually asks (or rather, demands) is to take the "train," specifying which line (usually blue), express or local, uptown or downtown. I'm both fascinated and delighted with his passion and wonder what goes on in that little head of his. On days we don't have anywhere to go, we'll literally ride the subway to nowhere, get off, and turn around.

I'd curiously read about the New York Transit Museum in Brooklyn many times and seen ads on the subway cars themselves but wasn't convinced it was kid-friendly enough for a toddler. But when Trina of O'Boy! Organic told me she was coming into the city with her two beautiful little boys and suggested a visit, I figured we'd give it a try. Safety in numbers, right?

The museum's location in Brooklyn Heights is conveniently accessible from both the east and west sides of Manhattan. All downtown subway trains converge within blocks of the museum, which is certainly not the case with some of Brooklyn's other beloved destinations like the Children's Museum and Botanic Garden.

Housed in an actual unused subway stop, the entrance is that of a typical subway entrance and visitors must walk down the stairs to the platform to enter. Once inside, the museum starts with a walk (or run in our case) through a gallery detailing the history of the 100-year old subway's construction depicted in photographs and drawings.

The most exciting part for the boys lie just beyond, where 3 partial bus replicas rest as part of On The Streets, an in-depth look at New York City's trolleys and buses, just begging to be driven:

The Transit Museum has been criticized for being a "playground" and lacking substantial information about public transportation's impact on residents' lives and how/why the buses and subway cars changed over the years. Nowhere is that more evident than one level further below, where hundreds of feet of old subway replicas just sit. But the boys LOVED running through them, hopping on and off, jumping on the seats, etc. If you're visiting with kids, you'll be swept up in their excitement. If you're going solo or with discerning adults, I can't promise as exciting a visit.

The exit includes a gallery of old turn-styles and evidence that it once cost a mere $.05 for a ride.

A final highlight was the gift shop that boasts an immense selection of gifts and toys for transit lovers, some of which can be purchased online.

Sebastian had such a blast at the museum and still talks about it. In keeping with the train theme, we visited friends in the Boston-area last week via Amtrak. I'm more of, "ride in my own private vehicle" kind of person but I knew he'd love the experience and totally did:

All Aboard
Leaving New York
Bye Train

Our next step is to devote some precious square footage at home so he can set up tracks of his own. The things we do for love.

Any transit lovers in your life?

New York Transit Museum: Boerum Place, New York, NY 11201 (718- 694-1600). Monday – Friday: 8 AM to 8 PM; Saturday – Sunday: 10 AM to 6 PM.

{I was not compensated in any way for this post.}