If your little conductors have a one-track mind for all things train-related, then these train and trolley rides will make them go even more ‘loco’ over locomotives. From San Juan Capistrano and Seaport Village to Balboa Park and Disneyland, we’ve found eight exciting excursions you can do in a day. So chug-chug down our brilliant list to fast track a good time with your crew. Bonus: Four of these rides are free for kids ages five and under!
Coaster: North County to Seaport Village
Hop on the Coaster and ride the rails to the historic Santa Fe Depot. Walk down to Seaport Village (15 min.) and visit the pirate ship, get a pretzel and ride the merry-go-round. Time the walk back to make the return train, then enjoy the beautiful ride through coastal San Diego on the way home.
Cost: $8-$11/person round-trip; free for children under 6
849 W. Harbor Dr.
San Diego, CA 92101
Surfliner: San Diego to San Juan Capistrano
From Zoomar's petting zoo to walking the historic district with its beautiful flowers and foliage everywhere to getting a cup of coffee at Hidden Coffee by the station to having lunch at Ruby's (within walking distance), there is plenty for the whole crew to do at this train stop. Even more, everything is within walking distance. So hop aboard in San Diego, then play in San Juan Capistrano for the day.
Cost: $25+/adult (round-trip); $15+/child (round-trip); 2 and under free
Take an Old Time Trolley Tour
Play tourist for the day and hop on (and off) these adorable trolleys while you hit up the tourist destinations from Balboa Park to the New Children's Museum. Best part, you don't have to worry about parking. Just hop off, tour your destination, then grab the trolley coming your way. Even more, the drivers are full of information (and funny!) so you'll learn a lot about San Diego too! Also, remember that all kids ride free in October.
Hours: Daily, 9 a.m.-6 p.m.
Cost: $37.80/adult; $22.50/child (ages 4-12 years); Kids under 4 ride free
401 Twiggs St.
San Diego, CA 92110
Sprinter to Oceanside
Catch the Sprinter in Escondido (San Marcos, Vista or Carlsbad) heading for Oceanside. Walk the short stroll to the Oceanside Pier and feed your kiddos lunch at Ruby's Diner. If the kids still have energy, scramble to the playground near the pier. Make sure to time it right to catch the train home.
Cost: $4/person round-trip; free for children under 6
Oceanside, CA 92054
Solana Beach to Disneyland
What's more magical than a train ride to Disneyland? All aboard the Amtrak train departing the Solana Beach Station. Take the one-and-a-half hour train ride to Anaheim Station. Once in Anaheim, there are buses (free with train ticket) that go straight to Disneyland. Spend the day enjoying the park then choo-choo back home tired and happy.
Cost: $20+/adult; $10.50/child one-way
1313 Disney Dr.
Anaheim, CA 92802
Golden State Limited Round-Trip
Go close to the border in this 12-mile Pacific Southwest Railway train ride with your little conductors in tow. The Golden State Limited chug-chugs through San Diego backcountry along the Mexican border, crossing the Campo Creek Viaduct, then cruising through the International Tunnel #4. All in all, the trip lasts about one hour. Add in a tour of the Pacific Southwest Railway Museum and your little traveler will be on cloud nine!
Visit the Master Train Rides Calendar to plan your trip.
Cost: Golden State train ride, $18/adult; $9/child (ages 3-12); Kids under 3 free
Pacific Southwest Railway
750 Depot St.
Campo, CA 91906
Fashion Valley to Old Town
A short trolley ride is perfect for little transportation experts. Park at Fashion Valley Transit Center (it's in the back of the mall) and take the Green Line a few stops to Old Town. Grab quesadillas and enchiladas for the family and relax with a margarita. Walk and shop, soak up the sights, and then roll back to the mall via that bright red trolley.
San Diego Trolley
Cost: $5/person round-trip; free for children under 6
Old Town San Diego Historic Park
4002 Wallace St.
San Diego, CA 92110
Coaster to Solana Beach Farmers Market
Jump on any Coaster stop from Oceanside to downtown San Diego and make your way to the Solana Beach station. Stretch those little leggies at Fletcher Cove Park, a six-minute saunter away once you exit the station. If it's a Sunday between noon-5 p.m., score fresh veggies, beautifully cut flowers and smoothies at the Solana Beach Farmers Market, also a quick jaunt up Cedros Ave. Grab some grub to go (and a latte from Lofty Coffee) and eat on the beach while wiggling your toes in the sand. Head back the way you came and be sure to check the train schedule before you go.
Cost: Cost: $8-11/person round-trip; free for children under 6
Solana Beach Farmers Market
Sundays, Noon-5 p.m.
444 S. Cedros Ave.
Solana Beach, CA