Old-Fashioned Fun Awaits at Tweetsie Railroad

North Carolina’s first theme park is a must-visit attraction for families, and fall is an ideal time to visit.

As North Carolina’s first theme park, Tweetsie Railroad is a must-visit attraction for families, and fall is an ideal time to visit the wild-west-themed destination in Blowing Rock. There’s excitement for all ages with rides, games, gem mining and animals.

Ride the Rails

No trip to Tweetsie is complete without riding the rails alongside cowboys aboard one of the park’s famous steam engines. When the train stops, the live show puts kids on the edge of their seats looking for bandits during the wild-west adventure performance. Check the train departure schedule that is posted on Main Street when you arrive to plan your day’s activities around including a train ride.

Miner’s Mountain to the Country Fair

Tweetsie Twister

After fun on the train, ride a bus, walk or take a chair lift up to Miner’s Mountain where you can pan for gold or do a little gem mining. This is also where you’ll find a playground, rides and the Deer Park habitat. Rides include the Tweetsie Twister, a classic scrambler ride; and Mouse Mine Train, a beloved favorite for all ages that takes riders through a mine to see animatronic mice at work.

At Deer Park, see a variety of goats, deer, emus, llamas, miniature horses and burros. Purchase a bucket or two of animal feed at the kiosk at the entrance to Deer Park for the chance to feed a few of the animals.

Also, be sure to check the show times at the Miner’s Mountain Theater for a magic show that will delight the kids.

More fun adventure can be found at the Country Fair with an assortment of classic fair rides such as a Ferris wheel, carousel and tilt-a-whirl. Visit the arcade for video games or show off your marksmanship in the shooting gallery. Enjoy typical fair games, such as throwing darts at balloons or knocking down clowns with beanbags.

Dining and Shopping

There are four options for meals, and something to satisfy all tastes. Cowboy Cantina serves pizza and hot dogs. You’ll find more variety at the Feed and Seed that serves hamburgers, chicken, corn dog and hot dogs, and salads. Carolina barbecue is on the menu at Sparky’s Southwestern and Barbecue, and there’s more pizza and hot dogs at Miner’s Diner. Several other restaurants and vendors serve snacks, such as popcorn, nachos and fudge, and are scattered throughout the park.

No trip to Tweetsie is complete without a souvenir. Shop for some western wear, toy or other souvenir at the Western Mercantile, The Company, General Store and — every child’s favorite — Happy Trails Toy Shop.

Special Events and Ghost Train

Tweetsie is known for its popular special events such as a visit from Thomas the Tank Engine each spring. Up next for fall is its popular Ghost Train Halloween Festival.

The spooky event occurs Friday and Saturday nights Sept. 25-Oct. 31 from 7:30 to 11:30 p.m. The Ghost Train takes brave riders on a frightful three-mile journey. After the train ride, take a stroll through the Freaky Forest where you’ll encounter dark surprises. Visit the Boneyard to try and find your way through a 3-D Maze, a disorienting Black Hole and a mystifying Warp Tunnel. Also, don’t miss Tweetsie’s Haunted House with 13 frightening rooms.

The Ghost Train, Freaky Forest and Haunted House are not recommended for kids under 8, but the event does have fun in store for all ages including a black-light show at the Haunted Palace Saloon or a dance party on Tweetsie’s Main Street. Kids can take a spin on the amusement rides at the Creepy Carnival, and enjoy trick-or-treating throughout the park. Costumes are encouraged! Tickets are $34 for this special event. Ordering advance tickets online at tweetsie.com is strongly recommended.

Tweetsie Railroad is open Fridays, Saturday and Sundays through Nov. 1 from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. The park is also open Labor Day, Sept. 7. Regular daytime admission tickets are $41 for adults and $27 for ages 3-12. Kids age 2 and under are free. Visit the park after 3 p.m., and you can also visit the next day for free, excluding special events like Ghost Train.

Myra Wright is the publisher/editor of Piedmont Parent, a sister publication of Carolina Parent and Charlotte Parent.