Bored? All Aboard: Portland Area Trains
Is there a little conductor in your house donning a blue and white-stripped hat hoping to take his train obsession to the next level? Are all things train necessity at your house? Give him an experience to match the I think I Can book, Chuggington pajamas and Thomas fruit snacks (we know you do not normally buy those sugary things, but they were Thomas). We can make those chugga-chugga choo-choo dreams come true here in Portland or within a scenic hour drive.
Washington Park and Zoo Railway
This is the best bet for the younger set, 4 and under. It is in Portland, the train ride is 35 minutes or less and the train is smaller. This is a good intro train ride.
Savvy Passenger Tips: Extend this excursion by getting off the Washington Park Run and exploring the playground, rose garden views or the small snack shop and store. Do not forget a reboarding stamp. Remember that in addition to train fare you will need to purchase entrance to the Zoo.
Mt. Hood Railroad
This train is big and loud and exciting! Explore the open trains or relax in a cozy enclosed car. This train has a lot of options so decide between the regular excursions or one of their special train rides. This is where you will find Thomas and Polar express on special dates.
Savvy Passenger Tips: This train blows its horn a lot and can be unsettling to babies who might want to rest. Hood River has many great restaurant options, the train leaves from the downtown area (park and walk around) and it goes to Parkdale, which also has a few restaurants. There is a snack bar on the train.
Oregon Coast Scenic Railroad
This train has open and covered cars and typically runs from Garibaldi to Rockaway beach with a layover. The fall schedule includes Fall Splendor (departs Wheeler and goes into the coastal mountains) and Pumpkin (does not have layover) special excursions.
Savvy Passenger Tips: This train runs daily in the summer but only on the weekends in the fall. There are no snacks sold on the train and some of the fall excursions omit the layover so DO NOT forget snacks!
Last but not least, this is the real deal because people are using this train. It is a little more comfortable obviously, because it is capable of taking you on endless adventures.
Savvy Passenger Tips: The shortest trips from Portland would be to Seattle or Salem. In Seattle you will want to be picked up or take a taxi. In Salem you can walk to downtown shops and restaurant and the Mission Mill Museum. The Gilbert house museum is a nice walk through downtown but about 1.5 miles so bring a stroller. This comfortable enclosed quieter train is the ticket for baby and big kid. Rumor has it that if you go and have lunch at Union Station and the train schedule allows it, kiddos can go out and take a look at the train.
What is your favorite Portland area train adventure? Are you planning to make a train ride part of your holiday plans?
– Kelli Kellogg
Photo by Kristine Torres, courtesy of the Oregon Zoo, Amtrak facebook page, & Mt. Hood Railroad facebook page.