SoCal Stops for Kids Who Love Trains!

All aboard the Kidsguide Express! We’re taking your train-lovin’ family on an adventure across SoCal, chugging along to must-see train stops. Let’s go!

 


 

Angels Flight Railway | Los Angeles

Built in 1901, the Angels Flight Railway is a historic one block ride up and down Bunker Hill in downtown Los Angeles.

The Railway’s Top Station is located at California Plaza, 350 South Grand Avenue;  the Lower Entrance is located at 351 South Hill Street, across from Grand Central Market.

The railway has made several appearances in film and television, including La La Land (2016) and the Muppets (2011). It continues to offer rides to guests today.

Ride the Metro to reach this historic LA railway.

Open daily, 6:45 a.m. to 10 p.m., including weekends and holidays.

 

 

Balboa Park Miniature Railroad | San Diego

The Balboa Park Miniature Train takes a three-minute, half-mile trip through four acres of Balboa Park. The train is a model G16 – now a rare antique with as few as fifty currently remaining. Located outside of the San Diego Zoo exit. Visit their website for seasonal hours.

 

 

El Dorado Frontier | Long Beach

Located in El Dorado Park in Long Beach, the El Dorado Express is a 1½-mile train ride on a vintage locomotive. The ride comes with narration and music, which work together to tell the story of the Gold Rush in California.

Find the train in El Dorado Frontier, a Gold Rush-themed mini theme park where your family can enjoy panning for gold, riding a hand car mining buggy, or taking a spin on the carousel.

The park also offers a model boat launch, boat dock, playground, picnic areas, nature center, bike trails, skatepark, library and more.

 

 

Fillmore & Western Railway | Fillmore

This legendary railroad is home to vintage passenger and dining cars that date back as far as 1914. It’s also home to an operating #14 Baldwin Steam Engine.

Fillmore & Western is known as the “Home of the Movie Trains” that have been used in film productions, such as Disney’s Lone Ranger, Water for Elephants, Sea Biscuit, Get Smart, Bedtime Stories, Race to Witch Mountain and many more.

Fillmore & Western offers train tours regularly, such as weekend scenic adventures, murder mystery trains, holiday trains, special event trains, steam train rides, school trains and privately chartered group trains.

Visit their website for schedule of tours and to purchase tickets.

 

 

Fullerton Train Museum | Fullerton

The railcar collection has three historically significant cabooses and two Union Pacific Lounge cars available to the public. Guided tours are available. The museum is open the first and third Saturdays of each month, 9 a.m. – noon. Admission is free.

 

 

Griffith Park Southern Railroad | Los Angeles

Griffith Park Southern Railroad has operated trains since the 1940’s. The trains are not exact scale models as full trains, but they still provide the same look and feel as the full-sized trains in a smaller, more useable package.

Travel over one mile of track, across a bridge, through a forest and the Old Western Town. You can also try their classic simulator ride, Kid Coaster.

 

 

Heritage Park Railroad Exhibit | Santa Fe Springs

The Railroad Exhibit at Heritage Park tells the story of the city’s railroad history through the restoration of the Santa Fe Railway depot, tracks, and signals.

The center of the exhibit has a restored steam locomotive as well as its tender, a refrigerated boxcar, and caboose. The exhibit includes two meeting rooms, picnic area, and rose garden. Other historical park buildings include a carriage barn, a windmill, and a plant conservatory.

 

 

Irvine Park Railroad | Located inside Irvine Regional Park in Orange

Irvine Park Railroad takes children and adults through historic Irvine Regional Park. The 1/3-scale train is located in the foothills of Orange and is open daily (weather permitting, excluding certain holidays).

Check their events page for special train rides throughout the year.

Bike and paddle boat rentals, OC Zoo and pony rides are also in the park.

 

 

Lomita Railroad Museum | Lomita

Temporarily Closed Due to COVID-19

Dedicated to the era of the steam engine, the Lomita Railroad Museum offers a collection of locomotives, cabooses, oil tenders, and box cars, all on display. The museum educates and informs the public about railroads from the past and present and how they will impact transportation in the future.

 

 

Orange County Model Engineers at Fairview Park | Costa Mesa

The Orange County Model Engineers (OCME) welcomes the public for free rides every third Saturday and following Sunday of each month.

They have a variety of engines and riding cars that run through over 5 miles of actual track. A typical train ride takes about 12 minutes and covers 2 loops of the park.

Open 10 a.m. – 3:30 p.m. on the free public ride days (weather permitting); donations are welcome.

 

 

San Diego Model Railroad Museum | San Diego

The mission of the San Diego Model Railroad Museum is to research, collect, preserve, and present the heritage of American railroading using educational programs, displays, toy trains, and scale models of California railroads.

With many different continuing and special exhibits, families can see small model trains operating that will transport themselves and their imagination to a different time.

SDMRM also offers summer camp for child engineers-to-be, field trip options, and scout programs.

Check their website for hours and admission.

 

 

Southern California Live Steamers | Torrance

Located in Charles H. Wilson Park, Southern California Live Steamers is a non-profit organization that offers free trains rides on miniature 7.5″ gauge trains in Torrance. Free public run days are the first Sunday and the third Saturday of each month (weather permitting). Donations are welcome, but not required. Check their website to confirm dates.

 

 

Southern California Railway Museum | Perris

Southern California Railway Museum is home to a vast collection of historical locomotives, railcars, trolleys, 3-foot gauge, model trains and much more.

Railway trains and trolleys operate every weekend. Visit to experience a day of family fun, exploring the large grounds, and riding the trains and trolleys that helped create the Southern California we know today.

A variety of special events are held throughout the year, such as Railroadiana Swap Meets, Dino Train and Steam Festival, Day Out with Thomas, The Polar Express and more. Visit website for upcoming events.

 

 

Travel Town Museum and Railroad | Los Angeles

Located in Griffith Park, Travel Town is an outdoor museum with a large collection of locomotives and rolling stock from Southern California.

Families can ride the miniature train that circles the perimeter of the museum. Docent-led tours, monthly events, party rentals (includes a Thomas the Tank Engine Playday!), scout projects are also available.

Admission is free, donations accepted. Fee for miniature train rides.

 

 

 

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This post was written by Kidsguide

2 Comments

  • Carrie Kleckner

    Thanks for sharing! My boys love trains & we have experienced quite a few of these on your list but will do more now that we know about them!

    • Alina Na

      That’s amazing, Carrie! Let us know if your family comes across any new places we should add to our list! 🙂

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