6 Train Sets for Kids

Toy train sets spark the imagination and keep kids busy for hours.

Christmas trains
Getty/Dirk Linder

Train sets (like building sets) are among some of the best toys for kids because they can engage children for hours by allowing them to combine both physical and imaginative play. With a train set, a child must manipulate the toy train while spinning a  story to go with the motions. Plus, there’s the engineering challenge of building the track.

  • 01 of 08

    Which Train Set Is Best?


    The tricky thing for parents, though, is choosing from the many train sets on the market because once you start with a set you are likely to keep adding to it.

    This round-up of plastic, remote control and wooden train sets can be toys for toddlers to tweens.  (OK, tweens is pushing it, but my tweens still occasionally pull out the Thomas trains.)

    Also see more Good Toys for Kids.

  • 02 of 08
    Thomas the Tank Engine Toy Train Set
    Shop Now For This Train Set. PriceGrabber

    In my book, Thomas the Tank Engine sets the standard in train sets. The wooden trains (Shop Amazon), in particular, are my favorite. What sets Thomas apart from all others is that the trains each have distinct (and sometimes annoying) personalities. This adds infinitely to the possible play scenarios. The are the equivalent to dollhouses, except with wheels.

    This basic figure-8 set (Shop Amazon is a good starting point for the uninitiated. And once they're hooked, you'll need the...MORE expansion pack (Shop Amazon)...and then so much more. Ages 2-7

    See More Thomas Train on Amazon

  • 03 of 08

    Melissa and Doug Train Sets

    Melissa and Doug Wooden Train
    Shop Now for This Train Set. PriceGrabber

    This figure-8 set wooden train track set (Shop Amazon) comes with a buffer stop. This little piece, of course, is not strictly necessary for train tracks that go in a loop, but it's always a favorite for the kid who like train wrecks. (And really what kids don't?) But also you get  an engine with a coal car, track, and a bridge. Ages 2-7

    More Melissa and Doug Train Cars on Amazon

  • 04 of 08

    Generic Wooden Train Sets

    Wooden Train Set
    Wooden Train Set. PriceGrabber

    Thomas the Tank Engine, Melissa and Doug and Brio use the same basic track system, so there are also generic wooden train sets on the market that will fit with any of them. This can be a huge cost savings for parents, either as an alternate to a name-brand set or as supplemental pieces for them.

    More Wooden Train Sets on Amazon

    Continue to 5 of 8 below.
  • 05 of 08
    Lego Duplo Trains
    Lego Duplo Trains. PriceGrabber

    Kids can pull out the rest of their Legos and build more than just just the tracks with these Lego train sets. Like Legos, the construction toys, Lego trains come in different sizes for different ages. The pictured Lego Duplo Legoville Train Set (Shop Amazon) is meant for ages 2-6, while Lego City electric trains (Shop Amazon) are for the for the big kids.

    More Lego City Trains on Amazon

  • 06 of 08
    Little Lionel Remote Control Train Set
    Little Lionel Remote Control Train Set. PriceGrabber

    While Lionel is known for its model railroad sets, which often are not appropriate for little hands, this remote control set from Lionel is meant to get kids started with the joy of trains. It has snap-together track and a simple remote control. Kids can take the train off the track and drive it around the house.

    More Little Lionel Trains on Amazon

  • 07 of 08

    This basic figure 8 set  (Shop Amazon) is a great way to  start your child’s train-set adventures. The 31-piece Imaginarium Figure 8 Train Set includes 14 pieces of track, 4 trains with strong magnetic couplings, 3 buildings, 2 trees and a bridge. This set is also compatible with Thomas and Friends and Brio wooden train sets.

    See Imaginarium Trains on Amazon

  • 08 of 08