Train rides, Museums and Models

Monday, July 18, 2016

If Thomas and Percy are a part of your everyday life, take advantage of the many Bay Area train and railroad attractions. Each one offers a different experience, but will surely put a smile on any train lovers face.

From riding a steam train to train model museums, you'll find a full agenda of train activities for fun family outing. 

Train Rides
Roaring Camp Railroads (5401 Graham Hill Rd, Felton)
The Roaring Camp in Felton is fun and offers different train ride options. You can take the train to Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk, or to the mountains. Either way – you’ll see rivers, redwoods trees and scenic views. Twice a year (summer and Halloween time) they host Thomas the Tank Engine, and the camp transformed to the island of Sodor with lots of activities including bounce houses, cookie decorations, and more.
Parking - $8, train tickets are $23-$29, depending on route and event.
Roaring Camp Railroad 
Niles Canyon Railway
This scenic train ride is historic journey through Niles Canyon. You can choose between diesel or a steam engine for a round trip between Fremont and Sunol. Check out the calendar for special events, such as Hot August Night on the Rails, Education Train, Wine Tasting and Train of Lights during the holidays.
Adults - $13, Kids - $7, Children 2 and under – free.
Niles Canyon Railway

Miniature Train Rides 

TrainTown (20264 Broadway, Sonoma)
This park have some full-sized old train cabooses to explore, as well as amusement park rides, including a Ferris wheel and carousel, but the main attraction is the miniature train ride. The miniature train ride takes about 20 minutes, and runs along 1 1/4 miles of track in the beautifully-landscaped park. The ride crosses over bridges and trestles, runs through tunnels and over waterfalls. In the middle of the ride, the train stops at a miniature town and petting zoo. At the petting zoo, you can buy food to feed the alpacas, goats and more, so prepare quarters.
It is a pretty simple and small park, but it really is much fun.
Train tickets are $6.75, babies under 1 – free. Amusement ride coupons are $2.75, family packs options available.
Billy Jones Wildcat Railroad (Oak Meadow Park, Los Gatos)
This historic miniature train runs for a little over a mile, from Old Meadow Park through Vasona Lake County Park. The cars are pulled by a diesel locomotive and a vintage steam locomotive, and it is defiantly a fun family ride. There are plenty of other attractions at the park, from vintage carousel ride to a lake where you can rent a pedal boat or kayak. The adjoined playground is pretty nice with a real airplane to climb on!
Train tickets are $2, children under 2 – free.
Billy Jones Wildcat Railroads
Outback Express Adventure Train (9777 Golf Links Road, Oakland) 
This train is located at the Oakland Zoo but you can access it without buying zoo admission. The train travels through the Wild Australia exhibit, featuring emus and wallaroos. There are other rides outside the zoo to enjoy, including jeep adventure ride, carousel and more. 
Parking - $9, Train tickets are $3, Ride tickets are $1.5-3, children under 2 – free.
Outback Express at Oakland Zoo
Casa De Fruta (10021 Pacheco Pass Hwy, Hollister)

This famous stop along Pacheco Pass has a miniature train ride. The two-mile long track meanders through the park, passing along scenic Pacheco Creek. The facility also has a carousel, rock shop and mining sluice, duck pond, and a playground with a play train engine and caboose. We would not drive there just for the train ride, but it is a great stop when heading south to L.A.
Train tickets are $4.
Casa De Fruta

Ardenwood Historic Farm (34600 Ardenwood Blvd. Fremont)
Ardenwood is a working farm, with lots of daily activities for the all family. You can board the farm’s train at Arden Station or Deer Park Station. It takes you back more than 100 years to a time when railroads connected the East Bay’s farms to towns and cities. The train is operated by Ardenwood’s Railroad Museum with staff and docents dressed in period costumes.
Train ride is included in the admission fee. Admission is $2-8, depending on the day. Kids under 4 – free. Check the website for more details.
Ardenwood Farm Train Station

Sacramento Valley Live Steamers (2197 Chase Dr., Rancho Cordova)
Fully functioning miniature steam engine and a railroad for children and adults alike to ride on and enjoy.
Train ride is free, but donations are welcomed.

Tilden Park Train Rides (Grizzly Peak Blvd & Lomas Cantadas Rd, Orinda)
The miniature railway in Tilden Regional Park has two train ride options:
1) Redwood Valley Railway: Train ride is 1.5 mile ride, about 15 minutes, in large ride-on cars. Train Rides are $3. 
2) Golden Gate Live Steamers: Train club built and operated miniature train – Sundays only! Train ride is free, but donations are welcomed. Check the online calendar for schedule.
Redwood Valley Railway
Folsom Valley Railway (52 Natoma St, Folsom)
Folsom Valley Railway is beautifully situated in Folsom City Park along with the Public Library and City Zoo. It is one of seven miniature scale replica steam-powered railroads in public operation. The open car round trip ride lasts approximately 10 minutes, and runs for almost a mile.
Train tickets are $3, babies under 1 – free.

Folsom Valley Railway

Howarth Park (Santa Rosa)
This is a little too distant from the bay area, but it is a great stop when heading north to Mendocino. The Howarth Park Train is a colorful miniature reproduction of an old west steam train, and has been rolling along the tracks and delighting children of all ages for over 44 years.  While there, visit the Carousel, Jump House and Animal Barn.
Train tickets are $2.

Howarth Park Miniature Train
Little Puffer Miniature Steam Train (1 Zoo Rd, San Francisco) 
This miniature steam train is located inside the SF Zoo, and runs around the park, so you can see different animals from the cars.
Train ride is not included in the admission fee, and is $5 per person.

SF Zoo Train

Train Museums and Models
California State Railroad Museum (125 I St, Sacramento)
This museum has everything a train lover need: from full-size cars, to an elaborate model railway and a room with a whopping 8 train tables. On weekends during the summer, the museum also offers train rides along the Sacramento River.
Bonus: You can take the Amtrak to the Museum, as it sops just a block away.
Tickets: Adult - $10, Kids ages 6-17 - $5. Kids 5 and under – free.
Train rides are extra $6 per child (6-17) and $12 per adult.

South Bay Historical Railroad Society (1005 Railroad Ave, Santa Clara)
Located inside the Caltrain depot in Santa Clara, the South Bay Historical Railroad Society operates this museum with two operational model railroad layout displays.
Admission is free, though hours are limited to Tuesday evenings (5pm-8pm) and Saturdays (10am-3pm).

South Bay Historical Railroad Society
Golden State Model Railroad Museum (900-A Dornan Dr, Richmond)
10,000 square foot museum of operating model trains where you can follow trains along the 200+ feet of public walkway. Highly-detailed model freight and passenger train layouts represent prototypical scenery in Northern and Central California.
Golden State Model Railroad Museum

Western Railway Museum (5848 State Highway 12, Suisun City)
With over 50 historic cars on display, 22 miles of track and 22 acres the Western Railway Museum is ideal for families. The Museum features historic railway exhibits, outdoor cars shed where kids can climb on many of the cars and vintage streetcar and interurban train rides around the hills. The streetcar ride is about 15 minutes, and the interurban train rides are 50 minutes long. Check the schedule to plan your day. Special events are usually around Halloween and Christmas.
Adult - $10, kids - $7, children 2 and under – free.

Western Railway Museum

Walnut Creek Model Railroad Society (2751 Buena Vista Ave, Walnut Creek)
One of the most mountainous and one of the largest exclusively scale model railroads in the United States. This model railroad features freight and passenger trains, mountains, tunnels, drawbridges and more. Once an hour, they dim the lights and an evening scene, including lights and thunderstorm, is presented.
Open only once a month, so check the online calendar!

Adult - $3, kids and seniors - $2, children under 6 – free.

WC Model Railroad Society

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