5 Ideas to Inspire Your Summer Scenes

One of the great things about model railroading is the flexibility we have in terms of what we can do with our layouts – we can create the feel of any time, place, or season. From the arctic cold of northern Canada, to the sunny beaches of south Florida. As we enjoy the warm weather of summer here in the US, we’re looking at five ideas to include in a typical summer themed railroad. 

1.     The Classic Ice Cream Parlor

No summer is complete without a trip to the ice cream parlor. A summer tradition since the early 20th century, these iconic businesses can be found across America, from small towns to urban centers. 

While there are plenty of options to choose from, your layout’s era could play a part in what type to include. For early to mid 20th century train scenes, a more traditional wood-slat hut might be the best style of structure to go with. If you’re modeling the 50s or later, then you could easily incorporate one of the various art-deco or moderne style options available. There are even era-specific options for modeling a current day example


Another consideration is your layout’s setting. Is your railroad scene rural or urban? Standalone drive-up ice cream parlors are well suited for rural scenes, while in a more urban setting, you might want to simply feature a model ice cream parlor as part of a strip-mall scene or existing structure. For busy downtown settings, you could even do away with the parlor completely, and simply incorporate an ice cream cart on the sidewalk, or an ice cream truck parked on the side of the road of your model train scene. 

2.     Pools and Outdoor Activities

Summer is arguably one of the best times of year to experience the great outdoors. For any summer themed railroad, this opens up a good variety of scenic opportunities. 

From backyards to community centers, pools are undoubtedly a staple of summer. Incorporating either a public pool or the backyard variety in your scene is sure to bring that summer feel to your railroad. Perhaps your layout is a little too rural for pools? You could just as easily create similar scenes around lakes and swimming holes, maybe including some sun-bathers on the beach or boaters too.  

Aside from water activities, there are a wide range of other summer activities which can be recreated to help bring your layout to life. From hikers and climbers to fishers and campers, there’s no shortage of scenic possibilities. 

3.     Sports and Events

While late Fall and Winter is firmly the domain of football, Summer is for baseball. No small town summer model train scene would truly be complete without a baseball diamond featuring a game in-progress. For a more ambitious railroading project, you could even feature a major league baseball stadium in your city. 

Other outdoor events to add to a summer scene could include classic car shows (a great way to plausibly display your collection of scale vehicles!), outdoor concerts, markets, and soccer in the park

4.     The County Fair

The smell of funnel cake, the screams of delight, the clickety-clack of the roller coaster – nothing says summer in the USA like a good old county fair. 

There are plenty of carnival rides and stalls available to bring any fairground scene to life. Some are even motorized, adding to the interest and dynamic feel of a layout – you can almost smell the kettle corn! 

Trains and fairs also enjoy a well connected history, offering a range of possibilities for integrating the railroad itself into your fairground scene. Perhaps the circus has come to town by rail? Maybe the fairground has a miniature train ride setup? To achieve this, you could incorporate a loop of N or Z scale track and trains in an HO setting, or HO scale trains in an O gauge scene. Perhaps with over-scale figures riding in open-gondola cars?  

5.     The Fourth of July

The traditional high-point of summer for many Americans is the Fourth of July. School is out, the weather is warm, and fireworks light up the night sky.

Small details such as flags hanging from porches, on top of buildings, or dotted around your town can give the impression that July 4th is approaching. Of course you could also model the day itself, with families enjoying backyard barbeques, and maybe a large gathering of fireworks-watchers on the high school bleachers – with some food trucks to the side? 

If you really want to get creative, you could project a fireworks display onto the backdrop of your railroad scene when night falls on your layout. 

Creating Your Scene

Whatever scenes you choose to incorporate in your model railroad, ModelTrainStuff has you covered! Visit our online store for everything from scenery and figures to trains and electrics!