As an adult there are certain childhood memories that are still fresh in my mind, fun experiences in which I can recall sights, sounds and smells even 25 years later. One such memory was getting together with my Grandmother and cousins every spring and heading over to Strasburg Railroad for a train ride and picnic lunch and playing outside all day long. It was a summer tradition, one that I always looked forward too, and luckily it's a tradition that I can continue with my daughter.
Strasburg Railroad is a short 25-40 minute drive, depending where you are in York, east on Route 30, just past the outlets. The station was founded in 1832 and in 2007 celebrated the 175th anniversary of it's charter. Much of the original train station has been preserved and while the station itself is unique, the cars themselves are the main attraction and the meticulous restoration is immediately evident.
There are four different options for a regular train ride, a first class car that has been restored to its original Victorian charm with velvet seats and chandeliers, a bit fancy for the little kids to appreciate. The dining car is where you can eat while you ride, I've never tried the dining car but I'm sure the bigger kids might think it would be cool and it might be a way to stave off the boredom of a 45 minute train ride with mom and dad! The coach car has a boiler in the car to keep you nice and toasty on cool days and open-able windows so in spring and summer you can feel the breeze, also cool old fashion seats that make a squeaky sound as you bounce along the track (certain young ones might like this feature). Our family favorite is the Open-air car, it is only available in Summer, that is exactly what it sounds like it would be, a totally open car that allows for great panoramic viewing of Lancaster County and all of the farms, animals and people that includes.
The train runs most days, with special themes on and off all summer. Today, for example, the train runs at noon, 1pm, and 2pm, but make sure you check the schedule for the day you want to travel, we have gone at the wrong time before and having to wait for too long can cause tears! Also make sure you make a plan for the entire day, there are a few other activites at Strasburg Railroad that you might want to take advantage of, like trying out an old fashion pump car, the mini train and the crank cars. Also you can still take advantage of packing a picinic lunch and stopping during the trip at Groff's Grove, you just have to tell your conductor you would like to stop, and if packing a picnic sounds like a hastle you can order a lunch at the station and bring it along with you.
Finally, and most importantly to some of us mom's, Thomas the Train makes special visits to Strasburg all year long. Currently there are three weeks scheduled for 2010, June 12-20th, September 11-19th and November 19-21st. These events are very cute but extremely packed, if you have a little Thomas fan that might be just as excited to see any train, you might want to skip the mayhem that comes with Thomas's visit. If you have kids that are tried and true Thomas fans than maybe this event is for you. Make sure you order your tickets early, and plan out your trip, get there early and let your children know that they will most likely have to wait in line to try all of the activities. Don't let me scare you away, it's great to see all of those little faces light up when they see that Thomas came to see them, just be smart and prepared to handle the masses.
For prices, activities and other fun things to do at Strasburg Railroad visit http://www.strasburgrailroad.com/index.php and check out the special Thomas the Train fun coming our way this weekend (post below)!