7 memorable train trips that are perfect for families

little girl looking out train window

From “Thomas the Train” to the “Polar Express,” trains tend to be a hit with kids. They’re a fun way to travel, too, because kids can get a geography lesson simply by looking out the window!

From feeding bison in Wyoming to traversing the plains of Switzerland, here are seven fun train rides for kids. All aboard!

MORE: The 10 best scenic winter train rides in North America

1. Hop Aboard the Winter Park Train in Denver, Colorado

Departing from Denver’s historic Union Station, Amtrak’s Winter Park Express is a great way to bypass traffic, which notoriously gets snarled along the highway leading into Colorado’s mountain towns.

A top-deck observation tower shows off Colorado’s changing landscape during this narrated 1.5-hour ride to the base of Winter Park. Kids will spot buffalo and can count the 31 tunnels the train travels through as it makes its journey into the mountains. Once there, and during ski season, families can schuss down snowy slopes at Winter Park or go snow tubing.

The Winter Park Train could also kick off the beginning of a Wild West-themed vacation, with a stay at C Lazy U, a luxury guest ranch that’s been around since 1919.


MORE: Scenic train rides in the US you won’t want to miss

2. Feed Bison on This Train Tour Near Cheyenne, Wyoming

Hop aboard a train at the Terry Bison Ranch and ride out to the middle of a bison herd. With buckets of feed on board, you and your children can feed the bison from the palm of your hand. They’ll lick the pellets straight from your hand, their tongues feeling like those of cats, only much bigger. Also, you can say you visited two states during the train ride, as the ranch straddles Wyoming and Colorado. Round out your visit to the ranch with a pony ride. If you’re looking for a fun time of year to visit Cheyenne, go during Frontier Days in July for rodeos, a parade and concerts.


3. Take a Scenic Ride Through Switzerland With Eurail

Trains can be a stress-free and budget-friendly alternative to flying, plus all the scenery kids spot out the window can help keep them entertained.

The Eurail Pass is a flexible, budget-friendly alternative for families who want to explore Europe with their kids without the hassle of flying from country to country. Eurail has a wide selection of rail passes, with more than 35 international and regional lines that can be used in 31 European countries.

The Glacier Express, for example, is a panoramic, almost eight-hour trip between St. Moritz and Zermatt. The train passes through 91 tunnels and crosses the elevated Oberalp Pass, with stops along the way at some of Switzerland’s coolest mountain spa towns.


MORE: You can travel across the country by train for less than $500

4. Climb the Tallest Mountain in the Northeast

Brightly colored train cars chugga-chugga up the highest mountain in the Northeast — taking you into the clouds — during this scenic excursion with the Mount Washington Cog Railway in Bretton Woods, New Hampshire. The ride to the top is about an hour and you can take in views of New Hampshire, Maine, Vermont and even Canada.

The free Cog Railway Museum has interactive exhibits, including a train simulator, so kids can get an idea of what it’s like to be the engineer of a Mountain Washington Cog Railway Diesel Engine.


5. Take a Steam Engine Ride Through the Great Smoky Mountains

The Great Smoky Mountains Railroad in North Carolina boasts 53 miles of track, two tunnels and 25 bridges, showcasing scenery parents will appreciate. But the railroad also has fun with themed rides throughout the year, including the Peanuts-themed Easter Beagle Express, the Peanuts-themed Great Pumpkin Patch Express and the Polar Express.

MORE: This Kentucky train lets you enjoy a gourmet meal in vintage glamour

Another fun option is to hop aboard a historic steam engine, the Steam of the Smokies, which dates back to 1942.


6. Ride a Train at the Railroad Museum in Wisconsin

If you’ve got a train-obsessed child, it may be worth planning an entire vacation around a trip to the National Railroad Museum in Green Bay, Wisconsin. You can take a 25-minute ride around the museum in a vintage diesel locomotive, during which the conductor will give a good overview of how trains work and basic railroad safety.

At the museum, you’ll also get to see some of the most famous retired trains, including The GG-1, a locomotive that was built in 1932 and has been featured on a U.S. postage stamp and as a Lionel toy train.


MORE: Best Electric Train Sets for Kids

7. Travel Back in Time at Greenfield Village in Michigan

When it comes to transportation in Greenfield Village, your family has plenty of options. The village, located in Dearborn, Michigan, has about 100 historic buildings spread out over 200 acres. It was developed in 1933 by Henry Ford, the founder of Ford Motor Company. After taking a ride on a train pulled by a historic steam or diesel locomotive, you can hop into a Model-T for another ride.


Enjoy the ride!

MORE: This train ride stops in 37 cities on the way from New York to New Orleans

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About the Author
Brittany Anas
Hi, I'm Brittany Anas (pronounced like the spice, anise ... see, that wasn't too embarrassing to say, now was it?) My professional writing career started when I was in elementary school and my grandma paid me $1 for each story I wrote for her. I'm a former newspaper reporter, with more than a decade of experience Hula-hooping at planning meetings and covering just about every beat from higher-education to crime to science for the Boulder Daily Camera and The Denver Post. Now, I'm a freelance writer, specializing in travel, health, food and adventure.

I've contributed to publications including Men's Journal, Forbes, Women's Health, American Way, TripSavvy, Eat This, Not That!, Apartment Therapy, Denver Life Magazine, 5280, Livability, The Denver Post, Simplemost, USA Today Travel Tips, Make it Better, AAA publications, Reader's Digest, Discover Life and more. Visit Scripps News to see more of Brittany's work.

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