World's Best Family Train Trips
Forget confining planes or stressful road trips. For an unforgettable family adventure, take in the world’s most spectacular scenery onboard a family-friendly train.
Photo By: Goldenpass
Photo By: IndiaPictures, Getty Images
Photo By: Grand Canyon Railway & Hotel
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Photo By: Courtesy of Via Rail
Photo By: West Virginia Department of Commerce
Photo By: Rocky Mountaineer
Photo By: jpmueller99, flickr
Photo By: Getty Images
Photo By: Courtesy of Amtrak
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Photo By: Utah Office of Tourism/Steve Greenwood
Swiss Chocolate Train
Say the words "chocolate train" to your kids, and they’ll be all aboard for this day trip in the Swiss countryside. You will be, too, as you nibble your way through the regions where world-famous Cailler chocolate and Gruyere cheese come from. You’ll be treated to first-class comfort as you travel from Montreux to the Gruyère region in either a vintage Pullman car or an ultra-modern panoramic coach car. And your ticket includes a tour of the Gruyères castle and tickets to chocolate and cheese-making factories.
Darjeeling Toy Train
A luxury train trip in India becomes a family adventure with the 8-hour ride on the Darjeeling Himalayan Railway “toy train.” This historic railway from 1881, now a UNESCO World Heritage Site, travels through the Eastern Himalayas to the lush, green Darjeeling tea plantations. The miniature steam train travels at the slow pace of 7 miles per hour, so you’ll have time to take in all the spectacular scenery as you “choo- choo” along.
Grand Canyon Railway
The most epic of all family adventures? Grand Canyon, of course. Experience the ride of a lifetime onboard the Grand Canyon Railway as you take in one of the world’s most impressive natural wonders. With entertaining characters and musicians onboard, kids will think they’ve travelled back in time to the Wild West.
Alaska’s Denali Star
For many families, a bucket list trip like Alaska might seem daunting with young children, but seeing the last frontier is doable (and quite comfortable) via train. Travel on the Denali Star from Anchorage to Fairbanks through the majestic Denali National Park. Keep your eyes open as the train moves through Alaska’s spectacular landscapes -- you might get lucky and see a bear, moose or caribou. And look out for what native Alaskans call “The Great One” -- the 4-mile- high Mt. McKinley.
Niagara Falls Train
Take the kids to the one of the world’s most awe-inspiring natural wonders, Niagara Falls, without the hassle a car trip can bring. If you’re craving an international adventure, take Canada’s Via Rail line from Toronto directly to Niagara Falls. Or head out from New York City aboard the Maple Leaf Train, and travel through Hudson River Valley and the Finger Lakes Region to the see the spectacular waterfalls.
Cass Scenic Railway
Take the kids back in time to the era of steam-driven locomotives on this historic train ride through West Virginia’s Cass State Park. Kids will love sitting in the open-air cars, while parents will enjoy the wide-open vistas on the 11-mile journey. Stay overnight in a renovated turn-of-the- century cottage in the charming mill town of Cass.
Whistler Sea to Sky Climb
Planning on a family mountain getaway to Whistler? Leave the car behind and take the “Sea to Sky Climb” train from downtown Vancouver to Canadian’s popular mountain resort town, Whistler. This 3- and-a-half ½- hour train trip offers breathtaking views of the Hound Sound and the British Columbia Coast Mountains. And this way, you won’t have to worry about navigating the steep mountain roads up to Whistler on your own.
Hocking Valley Scenic Train
Take a trip back in time on this historic train along Ohio’s Hocking River that passes through a canal lock and a pioneer village. Throughout the year, differently themed train rides, like the Easter Bunny, Santa and even old-time “train robbers,” offer kid-friendly entertainment onboard.
Great Smoky Mountain Railroad
Take the whole family on a railroad adventure through North Carolina’s Great Smoky Mountains. A unique trip each season, a journey in fall offers some of the best fall foliage in the country, while a ride during the holidays offers extra fun for the kids with a visit from Santa on the “Polar Express.”
Traveling between Los Angeles and Seattle, the Coast Starlight is one of the most scenic train trips in the country. You’ll pass through San Francisco, Santa Barbara and Portland as you ride along the Pacific Coast and pass the Cascade Mountains. There’s something for the whole family on this historic bi-level Superliner -- the kids will learn about the passing regions with onboard National Parks programs, and the adults will enjoy daily tastings of local wines and artisan cheeses in the parlor car.
Harry Potter Train
Calling all Hogwarts fans (both kids and parents), this is the trip for you! Ride on West Coast Railways’ “Jacobite” steam engine and carriages that were used in the Harry Potter films. Travel through Scotland’s lush countryside, and cross over the famous Glenfinnan viaduct, an unforgettable landmark for all Harry Potter fans.
Heber Valley Railroad
See Utah’s Heber Valley onboard a 1907 vintage steam locomotive, sure to wow both kids and train buffs, alike. The 16-mile track twists and turns between Heber Valley and Vivan Park in Provo Canyon. Lookout for bald eagles, deer and elk as you ride along the Provo River.