10 Toy Train Sets Sure to Delight Tiny Conductors

All aboard for fun! We took the work out of choo-choo-choosing the very best toy train for your child.
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Published October 16, 2023
Toy Train Set Hero
Image: Melissa & Doug
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In our rapidly changing world, it’s refreshing to know that some things stay the same—like the fact that kids love trains. Whether it’s an electric toy train or a ride-on toy train, little ones love to play conductor. And since one of the greatest joys of parenting is being able to share the things you loved as a child with your own kids, playing with a toy train set together is a perfect way to spend an afternoon.

We’ve rounded up a selection of train sets for kids that are sure to put a smile on both your faces (and that make great holiday gifts). Keep reading to find out why tots love playing with trains—and why it’s good for them—then shop our picks for the best ones to buy.

Benefits of Toy Trains

If it seems like your toddler has a one-track mind when it comes to trains, there’s a good reason for their obsession. “Train play encourages pretend and imaginative storytelling play,” explains Corinne Eggleston, PhD, manager of early childhood development research at the Fisher-Price Play Lab. “As children build track layouts, complete multiple steps to activate features and reset mechanisms, they strengthen fine motor skills and develop problem-solving, designing and building skills,” she says.

Playing with trains also helps foster independence. As Eggleston points out, “kids control the railway action, and where their train goes!” Combine that with toddlers’ love of pretend play, and it’s easy to see why toy train sets have been a favorite for generations. “With train sets, preschoolers can bring to life the engines and all the exciting track-building, train-coupling, cargo-loading action they see on their favorite train TV shows, like Thomas & Friends, but with their own playful twist,” Eggleston explains.

The Best Toy Train Sets

Ready to find the best toy train set for your budding engineer? Before you begin your journey, Eggleston has some tips: “A great train set comes with play options, so preschoolers can play and imagine to their fullest,” she says. “Examples include bridges to go over, easy coupling between train cars, opportunities for loading and unloading and accessories such as cranes, stop tracks, track switches and construction zones.” Plus, interactive sets with fun sounds and phrases help set the scene for exciting play. Ready to shop? Hop aboard and peruse our picks.

Overall best toy train set

VTech Go! Go! Smart Wheels Train Station Playset
Image: Amazon
Buying Options
What We Love
  • Interchangeable pieces
  • Connects with other VTech train sets
  • Track measures up to 15 feet long
Things To Consider
  • Sound effects must be manually switched off

Named the overall best train set in our Best of the Bump roundup of toddler toys, the VTech Go! Go! Smart Wheels Train Station is guaranteed to keep playtime on track. Ideal for kids ages 1 to 5, this toddler train set not only lets children go to town playing pretend, it puts them on track to learn about time, colors and language. This motorized train plays music (sing-along time!) as well as teaching tots the letter “T.” Little ones will love cranking the train up the hill and watching it zoom down the spiral ramp. It comes with 32 interchangeable track pieces and connects with other Go! Go! Smart Wheels sets, so your kiddo can mix and match to build a world where they’re in charge.

Age range: 1 to 5 years | Dimensions: 3.9" (L) x 5.1" (W) x 7.8" (H) | Weight: 10 lbs. | Batteries required: Yes (included)

“I love that everything is interchangeable so it encourages them to think of new designs for the track. I think for younger toddlers it also helps with their fine motor skills because they’re connecting a bunch of smaller size track pieces together.”

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Best train table

What We Love
  • 120 colorful pieces
  • Three storage bins included
  • Sturdy wooden construction
Things To Consider
  • Assembly can take a while

If you’ve got the space for a train table, this wooden train set will provide hours of entertainment for your mini conductor. The large playset is perfect for siblings or friends that like to play together and even has built-in storage bins to make tidying up easier. The train table itself features a mountain village scene complete with suspension bridge, waterfall tunnel, working crane (yes, really!), helicopter landing pad and an airport runway—this toy train set invites kids to dream up some wild imaginary scenarios. And isn’t that what childhood is all about

Age range: 3+ years | Dimensions: 48.8" (L) x 34.4" (W) x 16" (H) | Weight: 54 lbs. | Batteries required: No

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Best wooden toy train set

What We Love
  • Easy set up
  • Bridge automatically activates traffic gates
  • Compatible with other wooden train systems
Things To Consider
  • Some reviewers said the train track pieces did not fit together tightly enough

Our product testers found the Melissa & Doug Swivel Bridge Train Set to be truly impressive! It was awarded top marks across the board, and our product tester said it kept her son entertained for a long time and that “he continues to run to it every day and play with it!” This sweet wooden train set is reminiscent of ones you probably played with as a child. But the retro style isn't the only thing we love about it. The 47-piece set is mainly made from wood, with a few plastic and magnetic elements, and is super-easy to assemble. Meandering tracks go up and down, forming the perfect route for the three-car train. It also includes two bridges, plus traffic gates that automatically open and close when the swivel bridge moves into position (just like magic!). Due to its large size, this toy is perfect for cooperative games with siblings, but functions perfectly for solo play too. Kids can put their engineering skills to the test by building daring railway tracks and bridges or use their imagination to take a train ride along new and exciting routes.

Age range: 3 to 8 years | Dimensions: 22" (L) x 13" (W) x 5" (H) | Weight: 6.8 lbs. | Batteries required: No

“The Melissa & Doug Swivel bridge train set is such amazing quality and you get a big set for the price. For how much my son loves it, I would buy it for that price any day!”

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Best ride-on toy train

What We Love
  • Sturdy construction
  • Plays train sounds
  • Toddlers can steer it themselves
Things To Consider
  • Takes up a lot of space
  • Some reviewers said it easily jumps the track

What’s better than playing with a toy train? Driving the train yourself! This Peg Perego ride-on train lets little ones hop aboard and go—but with a top speed of 1.5 miles per hour, you don’t need to worry about them going too far. Toddlers will be delighted by the train sounds and love riding around, either on the included track or on a hard, smooth floor.

Age range: 18 months to 3 years | Dimensions: 38" (L) x 12.5" (W) x 16.5" (H) | Weight: 15 lbs. | Batteries required: Rechargeable battery included

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Best holiday toy train set

Manhattan Toy Alpine Express 49-Piece Wooden Toy Train Set With Scenic Accessories
Image: Maisonette
What We Love
  • Festive theme
  • Durable wooden material
  • Double-sided tracks allow for multiple configurations
Things To Consider
  • Relatively small in size

Train sets and the holidays go hand-in-hand, and this one looks like it came straight from the North Pole. A classic choice from a brand that’s been around since 1978, this Christmas toy train set is inspired by a cozy Alpine scene. It comes with 49 chunky wooden pieces, including interchangeable tracks, train cars, pine trees, figurines plus an ice rink and tunnel. Positively festive!

Age range: 3+ years | Dimensions: 10.2" (L) x 18.5" (W) x 2.5" (H) | Weight: 4.2 lbs. | Batteries required: No

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Best electric toy train set

iPlay iLearn Toddler Musical Train Set Toys
Image: Amazon
Buying Options
What We Love
  • Activity guide
  • Suitable for young toddlers
  • Comes with an electric train toy
Things To Consider
  • Batteries not included
  • Some parents said the volume was too loud

This train set for kids comes complete with an electric locomotive that chugs along on its own. Better yet, this play set offers three ways to play! Newly-minted toddlers can press the button to trigger lights and music or crawl along behind the train. Once they’re ready for more advanced play, tots can practice building skills with the chunky blocks. And older children can challenge themselves by designing different railway track layouts.

Age range: 12+ months| Dimensions: 14" (L) x 11.1" (W) x 3.5" (H) | Weight: 2.6 lbs. | Batteries required: Yes

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Best alphabet train toy

VTech Sit-to-Stand Ultimate Alphabet Train
Image: Target
What We Love
  • Can be used as a walker, ride-on toy or wagon
  • Introduces letters, numbers and colors
Things To Consider
  • Some reviewers said it wasn’t sturdy enough

It’s never too early to learn your ABCs, and this toy train teaches your toddler even more than just the alphabet. Numbers, animal sounds and music will keep kiddos entertained and put them on track to learn while they play. It comes with ten activities including a storybook, alphabet blocks and a walkie-talkie.

Age range: 12 months to 3 years | Dimensions: 34" (L) x 17.8 (W) x 9.9" (H) | Weight: 6.46 lbs. | Batteries required: Yes (included)

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Best preschool toy train set

Fisher-Price Thomas & Friends Talking Cranky Delivery Train Set
Image: Walmart
What We Love
  • Interactive songs and phrases
  • Train figurines “talk” to each other
  • Functional crane
Things To Consider
  • Additional track pieces sold separately

If you’re shopping for a true Thomas the Tank Engine fan, you can’t go wrong with this preschool toy train set. With more than 325 songs, sounds and phrases from the Thomas & Friends series, over 14 feet of train tracks and a crane with a working claw, this is the ultimate gift for a kid who’s seen every episode.

Age range: 3+ years | Dimensions: 27.2" (L) x 52.2" (W) x 19.8" (H) | Weight: 1.9 lbs. | Batteries required: Yes (included)

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Best eco-friendly toy train set

What We Love
  • Made from recycled plastic
  • Two bear figures included
  • Open wagon lets kids load their own cargo
Things To Consider
  • One reviewer said the cars come detached easily

Plastic toys get a bad rap, but this toy train set is made from 100 percent recycled plastic milk jugs and contains no BPA, PVC, phthalates or external coatings. It’s also made in the US, which reduces emissions from transportations, keeps the supply chain local and supports the domestic economy. It’s even dishwasher safe, so it’s easy to clean after sticky hands play with it.

Age range: 2+ years | Dimensions: 21.5" (L) x 3.75" (W) x 4.5" (H) | Weight: 1.4 lbs. | Batteries required: No

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Best budget-friendly toy train set

Fisher-Price Thomas & Friends Crystal Caves Adventure Set
Image: Walmart
What We Love
  • Interactive features
  • Includes eight feet of track
  • Connects to other Thomas & Friends train sets
Things To Consider
  • Assembly required
  • Batteries not included

Thomas the train toys can be expensive, but this motorized set is super affordable at less than $25. Kids can send their favorite little steam train racing through the Crystal Caves, over or under a tipping bridge and around eight feet of train tracks. Based around a specific Thomas & Friends episode (“Mystery of Lookout Mountain”), preschoolers can use this set—along with their imaginations—to take the story wherever they want it to go.

Age range: 3+ years | Dimensions: 19.7" (L) x 34.1" (W) x 9.7" (H) | Weight: 1 lb. | Batteries required: No

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How We Chose the Best Toy Train Sets

Toy train sets are a classic childhood toy—which means there are many options on the market. To help you find the right one for your child we looked at which had the best reviews and didn’t include anything with less than an average of four stars. We also considered all the different types of train sets for kids, from train tables to wooden train sets and electric toy trains. Our choices range from simple, no-batteries-required sets, to those with all the bells and whistles (literally!).

Interested in learning more about our editorial process? Read about how our team develops and reviews all our articles here.


Corinne Eggleston, PhD, serves as Manager, Early Childhood Development Research at Fisher-Price in New York. She earned her doctorate with a focus on elementary education from University at Buffalo.

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