SoCal Stops for Kids Who Love Trains!
All aboard the Kidsguide Express! We’re taking your train-lovin’ family on an adventure across Southern California, chugging along to must-see train stops. Let’s go!
Updated: January 2024
Angels Flight Railway | Los Angeles
Take a ride on the world’s shortest railway! Originally opened in 1901, Angels Flight Railway has given more than 100 million rides on its hillside track. The 118-year-old funicular takes passengers on a short ride between Hill Street and Grand Avenue on Bunker Hill.
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. The fare is $1.00 each way, and you can purchase a souvenir round-trip ticket for $2.00 to take a piece of history home with you.
The Railway’s Top Station is located at California Plaza. Open daily, 6:45 am to 10 pm, including weekends and holidays.
Balboa Park Miniature Railroad | San Diego
The Balboa Park Miniature Train is operated by the San Diego Zoo. The train is a model G16 – now a rare antique with as few as fifty currently remaining. The train ride is a four-minute, half-mile loop through four acres of Balboa Park, located outside the Zoo’s exit.
Tickets are $4 for ages 1 to 99. Ages 5 and younger must ride with a paying adult.
Corona Model Railroad Society | Corona
Located at Corona Heritage Park, this HO scale railroad depicts 1949 when Corona was “The Lemon Capital of the World.” The railroad features the cities of Corona, Fullerton, and Riverside.
Admission is free to the model railroad and open on Saturdays only.
El Dorado Frontier | Long Beach
Located inside El Dorado Park in Long Beach, El Dorado Frontier features a mile-and-a-half train ride on a vintage locomotive. The ride features a narrated story, while an original music score sets the tone, telling an educational story about the history of the Gold Rush In California.
The mini theme park also has panning for gold, hand-cranked mining buggy, and carousel.
El Dorado Frontier is currently only open on weekends. General admission includes unlimited train rides, carousel rides, and mine buggy rides.
Fairplex Garden Railroad | Pomona
Explore over 10,000 feet of operating track, featuring hand-made replicas of real railroad operating equipment. See miniature trains and trolleys pass through mountains, refineries, and coastlines of California with scenes depicted from the 1850s to present day.
Open the second Sunday of every month.
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. Admission is free.
Griffith Park Train Rides | Los Angeles
Griffith Park & Southern Railroad has operated trains since the 1940s! Travel over one mile of track, across a bridge, through a forest and the Old Western Town. Kids can also try their T-6 simulator ride!
After riding the train, head over to the Travel Town Museum to explore dozens of old-time railroad locomotives and cars.
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.
Irvine Park Railroad | Irvine Regional Park
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
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.
Exhibits include 1902 Southern Pacific Steam Locomotive, 1949 Topeka and Sante Fe Caboose, and more. Also includes a hand car on display from 1881 called Velocipede.
Admission is free!
Los Angeles Live Steamers & Railroad Museum | Los Angeles
Located in Griffith Park, Los Angeles Live Steamers Railroad Museum, educates the public in railroad history and show live steam, gas-mechanical and electric railroad technology in actual operation.
Offers public rides on Sundays (weather permitting). Public train rides are a suggested donation of $4.00 per person.
They also have many historic exhibits, including full-size vintage train cars, a stationary steam plant, and Walt Disney’s Carolwood Barn.
Orange County Model Engineers | Costa Mesa
The Orange County Model Engineers (OCME) welcomes the public for free rides every third Saturday and following Sunday of each month.
A typical train ride takes about 12 minutes and covers two loops of the park. Passengers must be at least 31″ tall to ride.
Open 10 am – 3:30 pm on the free public ride days (weather permitting); donations are welcome.
Pacific Southwest Railway Museum | Campo
The Pacific Southwest Railway Museum displays over 120 pieces of equipment and artifacts, plus offers train rides on vintage locomotive and cars.
Experience what railroading is like from the engineer’s point of view with a Locomotive Cab Ride, sit back and relax to the rugged back-country scenery of San Diego County aboard the Golden State, or enjoy a sunset ride with the Sunset Special.
There’s also special holiday trains including the Bunny Train, Pumpkin Express, and North Pole Limited.
Poway-Midland Railroad | Poway
The Poway-Midland Railroad is a full-size, narrow-gauge railroad in Old Poway Park that carries passengers aboard vintage and antique railroad equipment including a steam locomotive, speeder, and cable car.
Fares are $1 for children and $2.50-$3.50 for adults.
San Diego Model Railroad Museum | San Diego
Learn about the heritage of American railroading through educational programs, displays, toy trains, and scale models of California railroads and communities. Families can see small model trains operating that will transport themselves and their imagination to a different time.
Located inside Balboa Park, inside the Casa de Balboa Building.
Southern California Live Steamers | Torrance
Located in Charles H. Wilson Park, Southern California Live Steamers offers free trains rides on miniature 7.5″ gauge trains. 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 covers 100 acres and 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 | 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.
Take short day-trips to Los Angeles, San Diego, San Juan Capistrano, Santa Barbara or other cities from local stations in Anaheim, Fullerton, Irvine and Santa Ana.
All children (ages 2-12) may travel at 50% off the adult fare. Infants under age 2 ride free on the lap of the adult. See website for full discount details and restrictions.
The Kids Ride Free Weekends is a promotion that offers free train rides for children on Saturdays and Sundays when accompanied by a fare-paying adult.
Each fare-paying adult can be accompanied by up to three children, 17 years old and younger, at no additional charge. Plus, on weekends, each adult pays just $10 for a Weekend Day Pass – so families small and large can have an affordable experience.
Students and riders under 18 years can ride the Metrolink for free with valid student ID under the Student Adventure Pass.
This post was written by Kidsguide