Gift Ideas for Railfans: What We Wish You’d Buy Us

If you’ve been wondering what gift to get the railfan in your life, try some of the suggestions listed below.

Buying gifts for others is usually a difficult experience. However, one of the people you’re buying a gift for is a railfan. So whether it is a Christmas gift for a child (from Santa), or a gift for a friend (you know they don’t just want another pair of socks), have a look at these great gift ideas for the railfan in your life.


So here is my list of railfan gifts that are sure to excite an inspire the railfan in your life.


Anything from Daylight Sales.

Daylight sales produces high quality railroad merchandise that is sure to please any railfan in your life. They sell apparel, mugs, (I know I would love to have my morning coffee in a railroad mug), cups, mousepads and more, all for reasonable prices. I own quite a few products from daylight sales(including the mug I’m currently having my coffee in, and the mousepad I’m using) and have found them to be well designed, and creative.  Check them out here: Amazon


12 Month Subscription to Trains Magazine

 By gifting a 12 month magazine subscription, they will not only be thankful for your thoughtful gift once, but 12 times a year. (it makes my day when I see it in the mailbox)  Your wallet will thank you too as it is only $42.95 for a 12 month subscription. Trains Magazine dubs itself as “The Magazine of Railroading” and is a one-stop source for all things trains.


Railroad Cab Rides

Lets face it, any railfan’s dreams is to ride in the cab of a locomotive, listen to the horn, and hear the steel wheels under their feet. Believe me, you will forever become their favorite person if you get them this. Here are a couple railroads that offer this experience:

New Hope & Ivyland:

Located in New Hope, PA, railfans have the opportunity to ride in either a steam or diesel engine. They get to see first hand what its like to be a locomotive engineer and conductor. The trip lasts an hour, you receive a 5×7 photo (a photo that will last a lifetime), a custom made engineer’s certificate, and an engineer hat.

Great Smoky Mountain Railroad:

On the GSMR website it says, “experience the ride of your life”, this couldn’t be more true. Rail enthusiasts can ride along on a diesel or steam excursion and see the daily practices and training of a train crew. It’s a bit pricey, but well worth it to make your railfan’s day.

These are great gifts for any railfan, and believe me, you will be their favorite person for life. Check out this video from the New Hope & Ivyland:


Gift Card to a Model Train Shop

What railfan doesn’t like to shop for model trains? However, they are expensive, and you will definitely make their day if you give them some money towards them, especially the ones with all the bells and whistles (see what I did there).

Photo: ontbill

DSLR Camera

Why? Because they are amazing! One of a rail enthusiasts favorite past times is to photograph trains, many railfans have DSLR cameras to capture the high-quality images you see online. Help the railfan in your life join the ranks, and buy them a DSLR camera, they will appreciate it. ( I know I did)

Here are some great cameras for the railfan in your life:  Amazon

Tickets for a Train Ride

If the railfan in your life gets the same joy I do when I hear “we’re taking the train”, then this is a must, especially during the holidays. (They can also bring the DSLR camera you bought them on the train ride as well.) This is a great gift for any railfan and you as well, as you can take the ride with them.


Railroad Paintings

If the railfan on your gift list is like me, they love train photographs and paintings on the wall. If they are an avid rail photographer, perhaps get them some frames to put their work in. If they just like to adorn the walls with train paintings, consider buying them some for their bedroom or train room (believe me they will appreciate it)



To go along with the DSLR camera, a tripod is also a great gift to help your railfan get the perfect steady shot of their favorite locomotive. Get them here: Amazon


Railroad Books

Why? Because railfans love to learn about how railroads work (my bookshelf is full to the brim with railroad books and magazines). These can be purchased pretty much anywhere, even at your local Barnes & Noble. There are also rail related books on Amazon, including e-books if you are a Kindle user.


A Membership to a Model Railroad Club

Like any railfan knows, when you walk into a train club, you’re like a kid in a candy store. The sounds of the trains, and the talk between fellow railfans of the most recently released model is always a joy. This is a great gift that will create friendships that will last a lifetime.


Subscription to a Rail Cam

If the railfan on your list is like me, we love to watch trains from around the world from the comfort of our couch. This is made possible through various websites that host live cameras trackside. (I subscribe to quite a few of these sites). Check out some of the following sites:

Virtual Railfan: This site has cameras all over North America and partners with rail cams in Europe to bring viewers these also. Virtual Railfan will not break the bank as it is only $15 monthly for a subscription(well worth it, trust me).

Ralcam.UK: This site gives viewers the opportunity to watch trains from all around the UK. It is a great site to watch some of the busiest railways in the world live.

Railstream: Railstream gives viewers many U.S. locations to watch trains and subscriptions are reasonable.


I hope this helped you find a gift for the railfan in your life, trust me, they will appreciate it.






Lifelong Rail Enthusiast and Owner of Worldwide Rails

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