If you are looking for something fun and educational to do in the New Haven area, you owe it to yourself (and your family) to visit the Shoreline Trolley Museum in East Haven, Connecticut.
This neat trolley museum has both indoor and outdoor opportunities for family fun. It’s also a great place to bring an electric engine-loving loved one for a fun day out.
Let’s check out the exhibits and activities at this East Haven museum.
What is The Shoreline Trolley Museum?
This museum preserves, restores, and operates historic trolleys from all over New England. It’s also responsible for the last remaining segment of the Brandford Electric Railway.
The volunteers at this trolley museum, along with the Branford Electric Railway Association, maintain nearly 100 trolley cars. At the time of our visit in the summer of 2021, the majority of the trolleys were still being restored from the damage of 2012’s Hurricane Sandy, which devastated the coastal Connecticut area.
There are plenty of working trolleys, however. So, prepared to learn all about trolleys, the museum’s history, and to have a great time.
The museum is rather small and is tucked inside a quaint East Haven neighborhood. So, if your GPS is guiding you into a neighborhood, don’t worry – you’re going the right way.
Attractions inside the museum
Inside the museum is a lot of really neat stuff. The main attraction, however, is the massive electric trolley town display. I included a video of the trolley town below, but it is really something you need to see to believe.
There are several other exhibits focused on trolley-related technology and history.
There is also a little gift shop for you to pick up a trolley-themed toy or another momento for your visit to this quaint museum.
You will also see flyers and signs for upcoming events. Special trolley rides are often offered during the holiday season and events for kids, like visits from PBS’s Daniel Tiger happen from time to time.
Many people visit this wonderful Connecticut trolley museum for the trolley rides. Not only are they a lot of fun for kids, but the trip over the water and through the marshland is also so beautiful.
I have a couple of videos below that show how beautiful the trolley ride was.
On our trip, there were several osprey nests within our view and we got to see the mother ospreys feeding their young.
The trolley conductor may make a stop or 2 along the way to the car barns, where the trolleys are kept. At each stop, you will learn a bit about trolley-related history.
When you get to the car barns, you will be taken on a tour through a few different sheds and get the back-story on the trolleys in each one.
There are some famous trolleys and subway cars in this museum’s collection, including the PATH PA3 745 that was rescued from the World Trade Center collapse and the NYCTA R17 6688, which was used in the filming of The Amazing Spiderman 2.
The trolley that we rode in was used in the filming of A Street Car Named Desire. Very neat to be in the same trolley car wherein Marlon Brando once sat!
Things to do nearby
After (or before) your trip to the Shoreline Trolley Museum, there is plenty to do in the area.
Dining – You’ll probably spend more time at the museum than you anticipate and your kids are going to be hungry by the time you leave. I highly recommend the Twin Pines Diner, located just over a mile from the museum. It’s classic Connecticut diner – good food, casual atmosphere, reasonably priced, and family-friendly.
Park – If your kids haven’t had their fill of nature following the trolley ride, the Farm River State Park is nearby.
Other attractions – East Haven Town Beach, East Haven Historical Society Museum, Rockin’ Jump Trampoline Park
I hope you enjoy your visit to the Shoreline Trolley Museum as much as we did.
17 River Street East Haven CT 06512
Website: Shoreline Trolley Museum