You’ve got your Saturday routine down to a science. Drive to cafe, to the farmers market and then outdoor activity that will entertain the antsy kids. If you’re tired of running from one stop to the other, change things up by having all your fun at one location. Old Poway Park is all about the endless fun without the hassle of schlepping your brood around. Read on to discover what this amazing spot has to offer (hint: pancakes, trains and a farmers market awaits).
Ride the Train
Step back in time and take a vintage train ride on the Poway-Midland Railroad. The full-size, narrow-gauge railroad carries passengers aboard vintage and antique railroad equipment, and it’s run entirely by volunteers dressed in authentic railroad attire.
The train operates on Saturdays, 10 a.m. – 3:45 p.m., and Sundays, 11 a.m. – 1:45 p.m. In order to avoid any disappointment, be sure to check the train schedule prior to arriving to ensure it is not a “Quiet Sunday” (typically, the second Sunday of each month).
You can also ride on the newly-restored 1906 San Francisco Cable Car on the fifth weekend of each month. Train tickets are purchased inside the Depot Store for only $2.50 per adult and $.50 cents per kiddo. While parents wait in-line for tickets, kids can play inside the Depot Store with the wooden Thomas trains and check out historical railroad memorabilia on display.
The actual train ride is a short (approximately 5 minutes), half-mile circular 2-lap route around the park. And if you celebrate your birthday in Old Poway Park, the train engineer will make an additional third lap in your honor! It’s just the right amount of time for your antsiest kiddos and to decide what to explore next.
Where to Shop
Come rain or shine every Saturday from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m., the Old Poway Park Famer’s Market features rows of tented vendors selling everything from fresh produce to hummus. Kids will love peeking at the colorful fruit and glorious baked goods (grab a homemade muffin to tide the little ones over until lunch). Since it’s a Certified Farmers’ Markets (CFM), farmers sell their locally grown fruit and vegetables directly to you. For the best selection, be sure to arrive before 10 a.m.
Where to Play
The fun in Old Poway Park isn’t limited to the trains! Stop in the Heritage Museum and check out the historical artifacts pertaining dating as far back as the pioneer days. The Poway Historical Memorial Society provides your family with an educational blast from the past. Your little ones will love the replica of 1890’s/early 1900’s classroom showcasing desks with ink wells making them thankful that school isn’t like that anymore!
Stroll over to the Nelson House Museum and take a step back in time and tour the Niles Nelson Poway residence, originally built in the late 1800s. See how families lived and dressed during this time period. Kids can practicing playing the old-fashioned piano and check out what phones looked like way before the iPhone. Depending on volunteer availability, the Heritage Museum and Nelson Home are open on Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., and Sundays from 11 a.m. – 2 p.m. (closed second Sunday of every month).
View blacksmithing up-close and in-person at the Overshiners Blacksmith Shop and learn how metal objects, such as railroad tie spikes, were made from wrought iron and witness live demonstrations of metal work art. The shop is open every first and third Saturday of the month from 10:30 am – 1:30 pm.
Just a few feet from the blacksmith shop is the Poway-Midland Railroad Trian Shed where the historical trains are stored. When the train is operating, the train shed is wide-open, so curious kids can peer inside and get a glimpse of the other equipment not in use. This is a must-see for any avid train fan.
A memorial honoring past, present and future veterans of the United States Military is open year-round and located on Midland Road and Adrian Street, across the street from the train shed. Stop by and show the kids this awesome piece of military history.
In addition to the farmer’s markets, train ride and museums, the Old Poway Park offers a large, serene area to simply come and relax with family and friends. The area is first-come, first-served and the family can picnic or barbecue, enjoy a summer concert in the park’s large white gazebo, gaze at the koi pond, or just read a book in the shade.
Where to Eat
Enjoy a home-style country breakfast at the Hamburger Factory Restaurant, located right inside Old Poway Park. And don’t let the name fool you! This place is much more than your average burger joint. When you step inside, there will be no need for your hand-held devices to keep you occupied until your meal arrives. The country-cottage décor will have everyone at your table pointing out various eclectic wall-hangings, ranging from dressed-up stuffed bears to old mining pans. Kids receive a packet of crayons and a coloring place-mat menu. Die-hard sports fans are kept occupied with several televisions around the room that are tuned-in to those all-important sports games.
As the name implies, the restaurant is known for their array of tasty hamburgers that can be personalized and made-to-order, but the cooks at the Hamburger Factory Restaurant can also whip up crispy bacon, buttermilk biscuits, fluffy pancakes and a mean egg scramble that won’t break the bank. With a large breakfast menu, there’s pretty much one guarantee: no one will leave hungry. Weekend breakfast is served from 7 a.m. until 11:30 a.m., and lunch begins at 11:45 a.m. on weekends and holidays.
Old Poway Park
14134 Midland Rd.
Poway, Ca 92064
What’s your favorite thing to do at Old Poway Park? Tell us know in the comments section below.
— Leah R. Singer and Christina Q. Cross (photos too)