Summer in Orange County means beaches, barbecues and ballparks. Since that is what you seem to do every summer, why not enjoy something a little different with the family this year? Put your summer itinerary on the right track. Orange County is home to some outstanding railroad rides, museums and dedicated parks.
Irvine Park Railroad
1 Irvine Park Road
Orange, CA 92869
Traversing the beautiful Irvine Regional Park, the 1/3 scale Irvine Park Railroad takes adults and children alike on a transformational journey a world apart from the surrounding urban hustle and hassle. The railroad is open seven days a week, except during rare inclement weather, and is ideal for families, parties and enthusiasts. Enjoy a variety of exciting outdoor activities in the surrounding park like bike and boat rental, pony rides and the Orange County Zoo, or simply take a walk or sit on a bench and watch the trains roll by.
1313 S. Disneyland Drive
Anaheim, CA 92802
No Orange County train article would be complete without mention of the Disneyland Railroad. An original Disney attraction, envisioned and created by Walt Disney himself, the Disneyland Railroad is the perfect introduction to a day at the park. Your children will be dying to get to the Matterhorn, but if you can convince them to join you on a “grand-circle tour around Disneyland park,” you will inspire within them Walt’s own love of trains. The sound of the whistle, the chug of the engine and the immaculate glimmer of gold, steel and circus-bright paint will become an inseparable element of a day at Disneyland and an important, lasting family memory.
Goat Hill Junction Railroad
2500 Placentia Ave.
Costa Mesa, CA 92626
Founded in 1988 by a dedicated group of train lovers, the scale and miniature Goat Hill Junction Railroad sprawls over five miles through scenic Fairview Park in Costa Mesa. Goat Hill Junction is open to members and visitors to spectate, participate and, yes, take a ride on any one of six engine-driven locomotives. “Public Ride Days” occur every third weekend of every month. Cared for and conducted by the Orange County Model Engineers Inc., family train rides are free, though your support is greatly appreciated.
San Diego Model Railroad Museum
1649 El Prado
San Diego, CA 92101
A small trip south of Orange County for you train enthusiasts, the San Diego Model Railroad Museum is well worth the journey. “North America’s Largest Model Railroad Museum” serves to preserve the history of railroading with a number of expertly accurate scale model representations of California railroads. Witness, marvel and become educated through the sprawling 27,000-square-foot facility bustling with trains, tracks, historical notes and display pieces.
Orange Empire Railway Museum
2201 S. A St.
Perris, CA 92570
Also, a little bit down the road, the Orange Empire Railway Museum houses over 200 historic engines and train cars. The 90-acre railroad Perris parkland invites families and fans to come take a weekend train journey and tour the facility any day of the year except Christmas. A multitude of trains adorn and navigate the property, inspired by and capturing the spirit of this nation’s history. See classic trains in the style of those that once traversed the country, trolleys from old Los Angeles and even a Disney-fashioned locomotive.
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Christopher Schmidt is a freelance writer experiencing and espousing the glory that is Orange County. Driven to travel, drawn to sports, spirits and celebrity, Chris’ work can be found on