Scenic train rides are very exciting, probably even better than car or plane rides. You should consider a family adventure and take your kids out on a train ride. You’re bound to see wonderful sites. Traveling by train may look like a thing of the past, but your kids will definitely adore the stunning American rail rides.
To help you on the search for the best scenic train rides for kids, we have compiled a list. We also show you how you can prepare for the train ride.
1. Denali Star Train
If you’re traveling to Alaska, you can ride on the Alaska Railroad’s Denali Star Train. It takes 12 hours from Anchorage to Fairbanks.
You can easily view the Denali Mountain if you’re traveling on a clear day. This mountain is the highest peak in the North America continent.
2. Coast Starlight
The Amtrak Coast Starlight is among the most attractive train rides. In this train, your kids and you will get an amazing view of the Pacific Ocean. This happens to be a very affordable train ride as well.
3. Mount Hood Excursions
The Mount Hood railroad provides travelers with seasonal train outings, which are great if you’re in search of an exciting way to grow your family bond. During the June-October Park dale rides you get to view orchards, vineyards and woods, for the October fall excursions you get to see the exquisite colors of Oregon fall leaves.
And, during April-October you get to experience an old west-themed journey on the western train robbery ride.
4. The Cass Scenic Railroad
This railroad was originally made to haul lumber to the Cass mills in West Virginia, back in 1901. In the modern age, you can still see the original logging flat cars, which are used to show tourists the highest point in that state (Bald Knob) and Whit taker station. Don’t forget to take some photos of the Monongahela National Forest.
5. The Amtrak’s Pacific Surf liner
Rather than taking a family trip on the Pacific coast highway in California by road, you should try the Amtrak’s Pacific Surf liner and see great sites. The train travels from San Diego to San Luis Obispo. Your kids will probably enjoy the 5.75-hour ride viewing the beautiful ocean.
6. The Great Smoky Mountains Railway
You get 2 amazing train rides when you choose to travel on the Great Smoky Mountains Railway in North Carolina. The first option is to ride along the Nantahala River using the Nantahala George excursion that takes approximately 4 hours and 30 minutes. The other option is to go on the Tuckasegee River excursion that takes about 4 hours.
7. Grand Canyon Railroad
On the Grand Canyon Railroad, you can enjoy a ride along the Colorado Plateau, at a height of 5000ft. The journey takes around 2.25 hours. You may also want to take your kids on the famous Polar Express Ride, which happens during the holidays.
8. The Hocking Valley train ride
You will get to see the most scenic Ohio sites as you ride along the Hocking River. The Hocking Valley Railway provides quite a number of family-friendly train rides. For example, they offer the Fall Foliage train ride and the Santa Train during the December holidays.
9. Mount Washington Cog ride
Have a great experience ascending the 6288ft summit of Mt Washington on the Cog Railway. It opens in late April and runs till November. Let your kids see the amazing mountain sites and the eastern side of the Atlantic Ocean as you ride through New Hampshire and Maine.
10. The Texas State Railway
Allow your kids to travel back in time to the 1920s with the Texas State Railroad. On this scenic train ride, you get to travel through the Piney Woods of Texas on a 4 hour journey.
In November, the company puts up a pumpkin patch and provides a Polar Express Ride for the children.
11. Heber Valley Railway
Book a ride on the 1907 steam locomotive provided by the Heber Valley Railroad. Enjoy a wonderful view of the Heber Valley in Utah and the Provo Canyon with your family.
Your kids will definitely enjoy the sight of bald eagles, deer and elk on this train ride.
12. The Strasburg Railroad
Have loads of fun on the Strasburg Railroad as you view the amazing Pennsylvania Dutch Countryside. You will have a ride on the steam train that has been in existence for more than 175 years. The Strasburg Railroad offers excellent choices for the kids.
There’s the Day Out With Thomas Train ride and the Santa’s Paradise Christmas excursion for the holidays.
13. Arkansas and Missouri Railway
This railroad is among the few in the USA that still run freight and passenger services. On this train ride, you get a chance to view the freight experience, and the Arkansas and Boston Mountains found in the Ozarks.
14. Lake Shore limited
The Lake Shore limited train ride offers skyline views of both Chicago and New York. You also get to see some amazing American shorelines like Lake Michigan, Lake Erie and Mohawk River.
15. Skunk Train
The Skunk train was originally made for transporting huge redwood logs through the Mendocino county, Northern California.
Today the train provides amazing views for the visitors. You can choose either to depart from Fort Bragg or North spur.
16. Silverton-Durango Narrow Gage
Silverton-Durango railroad line has been in operation since 1881. It used to transport toting metal back in the day, but as of now it transports tourists.
Take a scenic train ride from Durango to Cascade Wye in the winter season and from Durango to Silverton in the summer season.
17. The Rocky Mountaineer
Enjoy some great scenery through British Columbia and Alberta via the Rocky Mountaineer train ride. For 25 years, this company has offered its customers great trips. You will find different classes for the passengers.
The Gold Leaf package is great as it gives passengers a 360-degree scenery of glaciers and peaks from the domed and double-decker carriages.
Have fun with your children as you view the breathtaking mountain peaks, waterfalls, lakes and streams. Be on the lookout for bald eagles and other kinds of wildlife. This is a ride you would never want to miss.
18. The Coastal Classic
This Alaska railroad system covers a vast range of beautiful landscapes. I have to say, the scenery between Anchorage and Seward is simply splendid.
The journey starts at the Turn again Arm coast and moves to places that are not reachable by car, some distance from the Seward Highway.
On this train ride, you will pass through 5 tunnels, over an amazing river gorge and past a breathtaking blue glacier. Furthermore, your kids will discover a vast range of wildlife like bald eagles, bears, Beluga whales, Dell sheep, and moose.
19. California Zephyr
This amazing train ride will take you through 7 states. It mimics the journey the first settlers in the American West took back in the day.
Take a family trip on the California Zephyr and see the amazing Rocky mountains, Donner Lake, Carquinez Strait, Moffat tunnel, Sierra Nevada, Truckee River, and San Pablo Bay.
20. The Pullman Rail Journeys
This train travels through Chicago to New Orleans. The journey takes 19.5 hours. Have a wonderful train trip with your family on this Art Deco train. You may probably get to see some music performances from the Chicago’s Old Town School of folk music.
Quick Steps on How to Prepare for Scenic Train Rides
Here are some of the things you need to do when traveling with kids on a train.
- You should know your reservation.
- Carry some comfortable pairs of shoes that your kids won’t mind wearing. Shoes improve balance and grip as the kids move around the train during the journey.
- Prepare your kids for the train horns before they board the train.
- Carry some snacks and some form of entertainment (e.g. games) just in case.
- Arrive early for your train trip.
Now what? Get prepared and give your kids the adventurous excitement they are craving for. Cheerios!
Who am I? A Montessori educator.
What a pleasure to recognize and interpret each child’s needs!
How exciting to help children become self-reliant and support them in their process of self-development.
I am also truly passionate about guiding adults in building their relationship with children.