All Aboard! A Local Guide to Locomotives for Little Engineers

When it comes to trains, tots have a one-track mind. Luckily for us, Atlanta has plenty of options for littles who love locomotives. For ride-on trains that will really blow their stack, keep reading. Woot, woot!

Southeastern Railway Museum

The SRM is where all manner of locomotive showgirls (and trains and busses) retire. Located on 35 acres in Duluth, the SRM is a treasure trove of restored double-decker busses, Pullman cars, diesel and steam locomotives, and yes, cabooses. Be sure to check hours online and train schedule to catch a ride on the “big” train (an engine with a passenger car or caboose attached), but since its operation is subject to operator availability, your best bet is to call in advance. Also, be sure to take water, apply sunscreen, and wear tennis shoes.

3595 Buford Hwy.
Duluth, GA
Online: train-museum.org


The Southern Museum of Civil War and Locomotive History

If you know anything about Civil War history, you know that the General put the loco in the locomotive. Train-jacked, so to speak, by Northern spies posing as Confederate soldiers in Marietta, the General’s theft set in motion a race to sabotage Confederate communication lines and only recently ended with a Federal custody lawsuit in 1978 between Tennessee and Georgia. Talk about some train drama, right? Whether your train buff will fully appreciate the backstory might be up for debate; however, there is no question that the exhibit, movie (just the good parts of Disney’s The Great Locomotive Chase), and display of the General itself will leave your aficionado reeling. Note: This exhibit does not have a train to ride, but you'll be blown away by the memorabilia and train history here. 

2829 Cherokee St.
Kennesaw, GA
Online: southernmuseum.org


Stone Mountain Scenic Railway

If it’s a ride your kids are after, then it’s to the Stone Mountain Scenic Railway you must go. This 1940’s restored train sports open-air passenger cars which offer a much-needed breeze during the swelter of the Atlanta summer and takes passengers on a 30-minute loop around the base of the mountain. Not interested in the other attractions at the park? You can purchase tickets to the train only, and enjoy your picnic lunch at the playground inside the park grounds after your ride. Be aware that all cars that enter the grounds are subject to an entrance fee.

1000 Robert E. Lee Blvd.
Stone Mountain, GA
Online: stonemountainpark.com

photo: S. Massey

Zoo Atlanta

The animals are great, but the train ride is what your kids will remember about their first trip to the zoo. Located in the Children’s Zoo, you can either meander through the animal exhibits until you (finally) reach it, or you can cut to your right when you enter the Zoo and go directly there. In addition to the Georgia Natural Gas Blue Flame Express Train, which is a replica of an 1863 locomotive, the Children’s Zoo is also home to a petting zoo, carousel, rock wall, and playground. The train runs every 15 or 20 minutes during normal Zoo operating hours, except in the case of rain or extremely cold temperatures.

800 Cherokee Avenue SE
Atlanta, GA
Online: zooatlanta.org

MARTA ... It's Smarta!

If you’re looking for a fast, cheap, and easy train fix for your kiddos, MARTA really is SMARTA. Let’s be real. Trains are amazing, complicated, and nuanced marvels of engineering, but the allure of a train to your three-year-old boils down to two things: 1) it moves, quickly, and 2) it makes all sorts of exciting noises. While a trip on MARTA may lack the “all aboard” call of a conductor, it is still an exciting train experience that won’t break the bank or kill your afternoon plan to run errands. Or, you can make a day of it by consulting the website for tourist attractions accessible by MARTA on the website.

Multiple On-Boarding Locations
Online: itsmarta.com

Avalon Express Train

Take a ride along the Boulevard with the little ones! Avalon Express Train runs every weekend and putters along (on wheels) at a reasonable pace that will make even your youngest comfortable taking a lap behind its engine.

400 Avalon Boulevard
Alpharetta, GA
Online: experienceavalon.com


Featured image via iStock.

—Shelley Massey


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