For years, the story of “The Little Engine That Could” inspired kids to have faith in themselves and to work hard to achieve their goals. Nothing solidifies this inspiration more than the opportunity to get up close and personal with a real train. A lot of history can be learned from the handful of railroad experiences available in Los Angeles. The best railroad experiences for kids are the ones with a history that reinforces the values of hope, faith and hard work.
The Los Angeles Live Steamers Railroad Museum
5202 Zoo Drive
Los Angeles, CA 90027
For a welcome dose of train history, the railroad enthusiasts at Los Angeles Live Steamers are committed to educating the general public on the history of trains, railroad technology and the role railroads have played in the growth of the city. This railroad features a few types of trains to illustrate the progression of train technology from steam engines to diesel and electric engines. Funded mostly through local fundraisers and donations, most of what you see at Live Steamers has been constructed from the very members who keep the place running. The new Sherwood Station will be up and running pretty soon.
Griffith Park Train Rides
4400 Crystal Springs Drive
Los Angeles, CA 90027
If you’ve got a train-crazy kid on your hands, then look no further than Griffith Park Train Rides which boasts of being one of the best family attractions in town. Attractions include at least two different train rides running in the same location where miniature trains have been in operation since as early as 1946. The train ride runs along a one-mile track that takes you over a bridge and through the forest to an old western town. There is even a nearby Travel Town Museum for kids and parents alike to relish in trains from the past.
Los Angeles Union Station
800 N. Alameda St.
Los Angeles, CA 90012
As an historical landmark, the Los Angeles Union Station gives kids the opportunity to see and hear real trains in action. Between Amtrak and Metrolink, there are more than enough trains that pass in and out the station. Take your kids on the ultimate railroad experience as you descend down into the tunnels and stand on the platform waiting for the next train to arrive. The best part about this train-related field trip is that it’s free to enjoy, but a train ride is not included.
Fillmore & Western Railway
364 Main St.
Fillmore, CA 93015
Known as “home of the movie trains,” Fillmore & Western Railway offers a multitude of train rides featuring family dinner trains and special events all throughout the year. For a nice daytime train ride with the kids, consider a weekend scenic excursion that takes you back in time to the 1930s. You’ll have a chance to explore historic sites all within walking distance of the first train stop at Southern Pacific Depot before making a second stop at the Loose Caboose Garden Center and Gift Emporium. The best part about this railroad experience is that on Sundays, parents get a complimentary wine tasting when they purchase a meal in the Powhatan Parlor Car.
Port of Los Angeles Waterfront Red Car Line
Miner St. & W. 22nd St.
San Pedro, CA 90731
You and the kids are in for a real treat when you visit the Port of LA Waterfront Red Car Line, which features restored Pacific Electric Red Cars from the 1920s. Starting at Marina Station where you can enjoy a little whale watching, the 1.5-mile trolley line takes you through Ports O’Call and Downtown to the World Cruise Center. At Ports O’Call Village, you can watch local fishermen bring in their catch while indulging yourself at the popular fish market. The Downtown Station features the largest maritime museum in Los Angeles.
Niki Payne is a freelance writer covering all things Entertainment in Los Angeles. Her work can be found on Examiner.com.