Family & Parenting

7 Memorable Train Trips That Are Perfect For Families

Who's ready for a trip?!

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?

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 celebrating its 100-year anniversary this year. The ranch is offering a Trains, Horses & The Wild West package that includes the round-trip tickets on the Winter Park Train and, of course, daily horseback riding. It also comes with an advance mailed copy of “Petey & Wolf,” a children’s book about the friendship between the ranch’s Sicilian donkey, Petey, and the horse, Wolf.

Visit Denver

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.

Photo by Brittany Anas

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.

Photo courtesy of Marty Petersen

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.

Mount Washington Cog Railway

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.

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

Great Smoky Mountains Railroad

6. Ride A Train At The Train 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 Train 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.

Photo courtesy of the National Railroad Museum

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. Of course, the carousel is popular, too.

greenfield village photo
Flickr | marada

Enjoy the ride!