Location: Gage Park, 6th & Gage Blvd, Topeka.
Cost: $1.50 per passenger per ride
Like generations of children before them, my kids love the Gage Park Mini Train. They perk up excitedly when they hear its whistle, and they run happily to the Depot to get tickets and ride. No trip to Gage Park is complete without a ride around the park on the train.
Checking the train out as an adult parent of a child with special needs, I was delighted to discover that the train is entirely accessible! Mom encouraged us to take the purple car, as it’s a bit easier to maneuver as an adult. Better even than the slightly increased leg room, the front of the car has a wheelchair area. There’s a lift at the right, and anchors, etc., for I’m guessing two wheelchairs.
This area does require good cane skills: there’s a gap between the concrete platform and the train itself as well as a bit of a step up into the train. If you ask the driver at the end of your ride, your kiddo can pull the long wooden handle to blow the whistle–an awesome auditory and tactile experience. Again, make sure your kiddo is aware of the area and maybe provide some help–Peanut wasn’t aware of the gap and his leg slipped between the platform and the engine as a result. He was fine, but it scared him (and me!) a bit.
The train is a fun experience, regardless of how well you see. The driver points out landmarks, such as the rose garden and carousel, as you ride around the park. You can hear different park sounds, such as kids playing on the playground and carousel music; there’s the sound of the train itself as it rumbles along the tracks; there’s the feeling of the train on the tracks and the changes in temperature as it moves from sun to shade. If you’re on a trip to Topeka, I encourage you to check out Gage Park and its beloved train.