Celebrate the seasons and PA history with meticulous miniature model displays and experiences throughout the state. Toy train enthusiasts, history buffs, and holiday tradition seekers are on the right track with these fun and small but mighty destinations.
1. Milton Model Train Museum
Enjoy a bit of miniature holiday magic at the Milton Model Train Museum. Watch as model trains zoom through interactive action scenes depicting the happenings around the town of Milton in the 1950s, including a colorful replica of the downtown. Their 20x60-foot layout is sure to delight the young and young at heart during their free holiday open house starting Nov. 24 and every Saturday and Sunday until Dec. 24.
2. Civil War Tails at the Homestead Diorama Museum
Discover one-of-a-kind dioramas featuring a unique twist of several well-known Civil War battles at the Civil War Tails at the Homestead Diorama Museum. Close to 9,000 miniature, hand-crafted soldiers along with hand-crafted horses, artillery, tents, fences, stone walls, and other facets of the battles, provide a historically accurate, bird’s eye view of the soldiers in battle, illustrating their courage, perseverance, and dedication. The unique twist is the soldiers and horses are depicted as cats with tails and snouts (and hence the name, Civil War Tails).
3. Gettysburg Diorama
Before touring the Gettysburg battlefield, be sure to check out the large-scale Gettysburg Diorama located in the Gettysburg History Center. Representing more than 6,000 acres upon which the battle took place, sit back and view the entire battlefield in 3-D miniature form. More than 20,000 hand-painted miniatures bring the three days of the Battle of Gettysburg to life with the 30-minute sound and light show.
Visit Miniland® in the LEGOLAND® Discovery Center to explore some of the beloved hotspots from the City of Brotherly Love. Crafted from more than a million LEGO® bricks, the display features replicas of Philadelphia's most famous buildings and landmarks, including a towering 11-foot replica of the Comcast Technology Center and Lincoln Financial Field, complete with the Philadelphia Eagles’ cheering football fans. Keep your eyes peeled for the mischievous LEGO® Minifigures hiding throughout the display!
5. Little Houses of Huntingdon
In honor of Huntingdon’s centennial in 1887, a miniature house showcasing one of the town’s beautiful Victorian homes was created and then restored for the bicentennial celebration in 1987. That house now graces the Huntingdon County Historical Society’s courtyard and inspired several local homeowners to commission miniature versions of their own homes. These “mini-me” houses are displayed in yards throughout the Raystown Lake Region as the Little Houses of Huntingdon. Buckle up as you drive through this unique miniature experience!
6. Brandywine Railroad
For more than four decades, Brandywine Art Museum’s Brandywine Railroad display has delighted young and old alike. A beloved holiday tradition, the toy and scale model passenger and freight trains chug along 2,000 feet of track, passing by a festive small village and farm, factories, a drive-in movie theater, and even a carnival. This holiday season, enjoy the festive miniature favorite from Nov. 18 – Jan. 7.
7. Choo Choo Barn
All aboard! Find a miniature slice of Lancaster County at the one and only Choo Choo Barn. This custom, 1,700-square-foot model train display features 22 operating trains, more than 150 hand-crafted animated figurines and vehicles including a flag that waves and a very realistic fire scene, and a visually captivating transition to a cool nighttime scene. Model railroading enthusiasts and first-time visitors alike have enjoyed this spectacular, must-see model since 1961.
8. Miniature Railroad Club of York
Once again, the Miniature Railroad Club of York is throwing open its doors to welcome one and all to their annual holiday open house! Watch HO-scale freight and passenger trains pulled by steam- and diesel-powered locomotives as they chug their way through a 2,700-square-foot layout featuring realistic scenes from around Pennsylvania during the 1960s and 1970s. Open weekends, Nov. 25 – Jan. 14, make this one of your fun holiday traditions.
9. Isett Heritage Museum and Model Railroad
Along with its amazing collection of 40,000 antiques showcasing everything from everyday items from the past two centuries to one-of-a kind finds, the Isett Heritage Museum is home to an HO-scale model of Huntingdon built by the Bricktown Model Railroaders Club. Watch the trains make their rounds on the track and afterwards peruse the scale model farm and other miniatures and antiques throughout this hidden gem of a museum.
10. Meadville Railroad Depot
Find miniature train sets, artifacts, and historic finds at the former 1881 Bessemer and Lake Erie Passenger Depot, now the Meadville Railroad Depot. Open Saturday afternoons depending on the availability of volunteers, the free museum displays Meadville’s extensive railroad history with a wide range of exhibits. Young ones will love the detailed model train exhibits.
11. Gettysburg Miniature Soldiers
For ultimate miniature display fans, plan a trip to the Gettysburg Miniature Soldiers own toy soldiers collection. Located in one of the nation’s most historic towns, this shop features a “Heroes in Miniature” collection of unique, vintage miniature soldiers, tanks, and other battlefield accessories depicting moments from Roman times to modern day, along with wargame figures. Recreate the notable battles of Gettysburg with your very own miniature model.
12. Underground Railroad Shoppe
The Underground Railroad Shoppe's miniature train display lights up the room during the holiday season. Enjoy "A Slice of Americana" as trains chug through a cityscape into a rural landscape, passing by the New York City skyline, an amusement park, a train station, and mountains complete with tunnels and a ski resort on their 28x16-foot layout. Stop in this holiday season, with the layout open from the first Monday of Thanksgiving week through New Year’s Day.
13. Shempp Model Train Exhibit
Whether a long-time model train enthusiast or a new collector, the Shempp Model Train Collection is a definite must-see. Housed in the Lycoming County Historical Society’s Thomas T. Taber Museum, the extensive collection was the life-long passion of Larue Shempp and features 347 complete train sets, including many rare and prototype miniature train models. One of the many showpieces is a model steam engine train powered by alcohol that dates back to 1877. The collection also features a model train layout with a small town and mountain scenes.
14. Holiday Wheels and Thrills Community Model Train Display
Celebrating eight years of holiday magic, the Holiday Wheels and Thrills Community Model Train is back and ready to display a variety of festive freights at the Indiana Mall during the 2023 season. The free exhibition by the Indiana Area Train Collectors showcases whimsical wheels every Friday, Saturday, and Sunday starting Nov. 24 through Dec. 17. While there, enjoy a selection of holiday quilts by the Indiana PA Quilter’s Club on display to accompany the mall’s seasonal offerings.
15. Hartman Station at Overly’s Country Christmas
Overly’s Country Christmas has been delighting generations of families and holiday revelers since 1956. Take a break from their spectacular light displays and other fun activities and attractions to watch model trains rumble through all four seasons at Overly’s miniature train display, Hartman Station. Their unique G-gauge model train display includes a variety of western PA railroad memorabilia, including Overly’s Gate.
16. Harry Clark’s Train Display
Once rated the “best handmade display in America” by Railroader Magazine, Harry Clark’s passion project lives on at the Connellsville Canteen and greets cyclists riding the Great Allegheny Passage. Housed in a reconstructed train station, the 25x55-foot display features a HO-scale model railroad. Visit Connellsville Canteen’s café and gift shop for a delicious meal and stay for the miniature models and Southwestern PA’s only World War II museum.
17. PW & S Display
A 24-mile stretch of Southwestern Pennsylvania history is on display at the Laurel Highlands Model Railroad Club. The Pittsburgh, Westmoreland, and Somerset Railroad, known as the PW&S Display, ran from Ligonier to Somerset in the early 20th century and has been recreated to the delight of history and railroad buffs alike. See if you can identify Somerset and other small communities as the model trains pass through the Allegheny tunnel and make their way to Ligonier, which is almost-identical to the route of the original PW&S train.
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