Best Bets for Train Excursions

Take your little train enthusiasts to the tracks or toy shops.
Tweetsierailroadengine No. 190 On Trestle
Photo courtesy of Tweetsie Railroad
Tweetsie Railroad, about two hours from Charlotte, offers a lot more than just train rides. Enjoy a carousel, Ferris wheel, tilt-a-whirl and more.

If you have a kid who loves trains, look no further. Here are the best excursions in the area for your Little Engine That Could.

The N.C. Transportation Museum

This museum, less than an hour from uptown Charlotte, isn’t just a place filled with exhibits. You and your kids can take a 25-minute train ride on an antique diesel engine through the museum’s 60-acre site. Be sure to get tickets for the upcoming fall program featuring the classic storybook train Thomas the Tank Engine. Purchase a ticket to ride Thomas the Tank Engine or the Percy Caboose Train. The event will include storytelling, temporary tattoos, an Imagination Station with arts and crafts, model train layouts, a music show and more.

Little Choo Choo Shop

This store is across the street from the N.C. Transportation Museum. After checking out the exhibits and riding the train, head to this little shop and show your kids all of the model trains.

Kannapolis Village Park

Head 35 minutes north of Charlotte to Village Park. Here you can ride the Rotary Express Train, a g-24 scale replica CP Huntington engine with three coaches. Train rides are available seven days a week until the end of August. Tickets are $1.50/person. There’s also a carousel and splash pad nearby to enjoy after your train ride.


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Great Smoky Mountains Railroad

Make a weekend of it. Head to Bryson City, three hours west of Charlotte, where you and your kids can embark on the Great Smoky Mountains Railroad. These trains explore 53 miles of track and have two tunnels and 25 bridges. Choose from either the Nantahala Gorge or Tuckasegee River excursions and enjoy a four-hour train ride looking out the window at North Carolina’s beauty. Kids ages 2 to 12 ride free with a purchase of an adult ticket!

Lionel Retail Store

This store in Concord is the only store directly owned by Lionel L.L.C., the 116-year-old train maker. Take your kids to check out the Lionel toy trains and train accessories – perfect for any model train enthusiasts. (When planning, keep in mind that this store is closed on the weekends!)

Lynx Train

You don’t have to go far or spend much money to enjoy a train ride! Buy a one-day unlimited ride ticket for $6.60/person and spend the day getting on and off the light rail exploring your own city.


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Ride Amtrak

Be sure to check out Amtrak’s summer deal for kids. Children ages 2 to 12 accompanied by a paying adult can ride to any destination in North Carolina for just $5. Tickets must be for Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays or Saturdays. Offer expires on Aug. 31.


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Tweetsie Railroad

This park located in Blowing Rock, about two hours from Charlotte, offers a lot more than just train rides. Enjoy a carousel, Ferris wheel, tilt-a-whirl and more. Then head over to the trains where you choose from two of the vintage steam locomotives on property, the No. 12 “Tweetsie” or the No. 190 “Yukon Queen.” Be sure to go on the Wild West Train Adventure where one of these coal-fired steam engines will take you on a three-mile ride through the mountains. Look out the window for bandits and beautiful North Carolina scenery!


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