What's a Great Gift for a Public Transportation-Loving Toddler?
July 6, 2012 11:02 AM   Subscribe

What are your favorite public transportation/travel gifts for toddlers available in the U.S.?

My friend's little boy is turning three soon and he loves trains. Not just any type of train, he specifically loves the Chicago L train. Last year I bought him two wooden Blue Line Trains (the train he rides) with magnets on the ends for his train table from CTA Gifts and he loved them. He even went as The Blue Line for Halloween. This year I'd like to get him something possible train-related but unique (not a set of wooden Red Line trains, for instance).

Perhaps there's a few great books or other toys that he might like? Have you come across cool kids books with public transportation in international cities? He also just took his first ever plane ride to France so a plane/international travel theme might be worth a shot as well.
posted by Bunglegirl to Shopping (15 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Amtrak has pins (a little young for him unless he has a pinboard out of reach), as well as coloring books, available on their webstore. Also a play area (Flash required) on their website.
posted by tilde at 11:07 AM on July 6, 2012

The New York Transit Museum has a store with lots of goodies.
posted by grouse at 11:11 AM on July 6, 2012

Check out the Transit Museum Store (NYC stuff)! But I will warn you that toddlers are obsessive little buggers sometimes and he might indeed want the other version of the same train.
posted by the young rope-rider at 11:12 AM on July 6, 2012

Did you look at the CTA store? There are some cute children's t-shirts, and I quite like this teddy bear.
posted by OrangeDisk at 11:14 AM on July 6, 2012 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Cool! A lot of my friends have been nerdy little boys at some point in their lives, and one thing all of them seem to have in common was going through a map dorkery phase when they were little. One of them was really into public transit systems. Another was really into airports. Another was into roads/interstate highways. And so on.

So my suggestion would be to just get as many maps as you can (these don't need to be gift quality, just the regular transit maps) and give them to him. Chicago, New York, Boston, London, Moscow, Paris, etc. Anywhere that has a large (and colorful!) set of intersecting train lines. My guess is that he'll just enjoy looking at them over and over again...maybe put them up on his wall as posters, or use them on the floor and drive Micromachines (do they still make those?) around on them.

He's little. A gift doesn't need to scream toy! or child! for him to be entertained by it.
posted by phunniemee at 11:39 AM on July 6, 2012

Best answer: Next Stop Grand Central is one of the awesomest books ever.
posted by Mchelly at 11:50 AM on July 6, 2012

Do you already have Donald Crews' "Freight Train"? That is the king of train books in our house. Subway is supposed to be very good. We've also found quite a few good train coloring books; if you search amazon for "Dover train coloring book" there's a very elaborate one with lots of historic trains.

We have also collected train timetables and random expired tickets from friends. Random expired tickets are THE BOSS. He takes them to ride his imaginary trains around the house, makes his baby brother hold them to be "on the train," sticks them in his train set for the passengers ... they're very popular.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 12:52 PM on July 6, 2012

There's also someone selling posters representing fictitious subway maps (Cape Cod, Fire Island, Acadia National Park)
posted by RonButNotStupid at 1:36 PM on July 6, 2012

I love phunniemee's and Eyebrows McGee's suggestions. And recommend that you laminate the train maps (tickets are usually a thicker paper) so they last longer - we just did this with all our zoo maps for our almost 3 year old and it is awesome.

You could also take the child to the Museum of Science and Industry and check out the model trains (as well as other cool stuff) or the Illinois Railway Museum (in Union) and check out big trains. There is also national train day (in May?).
posted by mutt.cyberspace at 2:18 PM on July 6, 2012

Passes. For the L, the bus, Amtrak, whatever. Kids who love trains and transport love going on things. Even a train ride to a playground is super exciting.
posted by Chaussette and the Pussy Cats at 2:44 PM on July 6, 2012

It looks like you also live in Chicago, but if you'd like, I'd be happy to mail you spent transit cards. I pass dozens of them that have been tossed aside every day. (I'll even clorox wipe them for you before sending them off.) Just let me know.
posted by phunniemee at 2:47 PM on July 6, 2012

So my suggestion would be to just get as many maps as you can

Or laminate them, so they can be used as placemats!
posted by MonkeyToes at 3:36 PM on July 6, 2012

Best answer: Google turned up the interesting-looking Munipals site. Their offerings look like they'd be compatible with Thomas the Tank Engine wooden railway gear. (Wrong city for you, but I have a soft spot for the SEPTA Girard Avenue Trolley.)
posted by MonkeyToes at 5:32 AM on July 7, 2012 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Thanks for all of the ideas!
posted by Bunglegirl at 9:26 PM on July 17, 2012

I thought of this question this morning when I saw these transit tees-- it looks like they have a mix of kid and adult options, as well as things like magnets and coffee mugs. Obviously it's too late for the birthday that prompted the question, but perhaps useful if the train obsession continues!
posted by dizziest at 8:22 AM on September 18, 2012

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