You know the saying: getting there is half the fun. You also know that with traffic in the Bay Area, that’s not always the case. Skip the road trip and make a rail trip to the California Railroad Museum in Sacramento, an idyllic day trip for mini train fanatics. Your little conductor-in-training will love getting geared up for the museum, with a ride on a real train. And as if the lure of restored locomotives, ornate railcars, and interactive exhibits isn’t enough to get their engines going, we think the 8 (yes count ’em 8!) train tables upstairs will do the trick.
Start your journey at one of several stations served by Amtrak’s Capitol Corridor line. From Emeryville, the ride takes just under 2 hours, depending on the time of day. In the far East Bay, consider picking up the train in Martinez. That journey is only an hour, which is about the same amount of time it would take you to drive from there. The route winds through the beautiful scenery of the Delta. Be sure to keep your eyes peeled for the big ships on the river, and all kinds of wildlife and farm animals on land.
Once you arrive in Sacramento, the Amtrak station in Old Sacramento is just around the corner from the museum, which makes it an easy stroll for families with kids of all ages. Trains run fairly often on the weekends to and from Sacramento, so you should have plenty of options, but you’ll definitely want to book ahead of time on Amtrak.com.
And More Trains
The California State Railroad Museum is packed to the rafters with trains of all shapes and sizes. A giant locomotive greets you at the entrance. From there, you’ll find beautifully restored engines, dining cars, and stock cars. Some are just for display, others you can climb aboard and see what rail travel used to be like.
The whole second floor is dedicated to different kinds of model trains. The museum has several working displays set up. And, for the little ones who really want to get in on the action they have (drum roll please…) 8 fully equipped train tables with both Chugginton and Thomas characters.
Even with younger kids, expect to spend between 2 and 3 hours at the museum.
Beyond the Museum
There is plenty else to see and do in Old Sacramento, all within easy walking distance of the Amtrak station. Family-friendly dining options abound. For a sit-down meal, try the Fat City Bar and Cafe (1001 Front Street, Sacramento, Ca) or Joe’s Crab Shack (1210 Front Street, Sacramento, Ca). After, grab dessert from Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory (1039 2nd Street, Sacramento, Ca) and enjoy in the riverfront park. Get some fresh air and take a stroll through this slice of the Wild West, before riding the rails back off into the sunset!
The California State Railroad Museum
125 I St
Sacramento, Ca 95814
Open Daily 10 a.m.-5 p.m.
Price: $10/adults, $5/Youth 6-17, Free/Kids 5 and under.
Have you made the trip to Old Town Sacramento on Amtrak or visited the State Railroad Museum? Share your experience with us below!
Copy and photos by Melissa Bouse