There is something just so fun and nostalgic about trains. They captivate our imaginations and remind us of simpler times. Why not plan a trip by rail this summer with your family? With these seven railways in Ohio, Indiana and Kentucky, you won’t have to go far to “get on the right track”!
Train Trips Near Ohio
Historic Downtown Lebanon, Ohio
The Lebanon Mason Monroe Railroad carries passengers along scenic routes in southwestern Ohio. Operating since about 1881, some of the original tracks still exist. History buffs and train enthusiasts alike will enjoy this fourteen mile stretch of track. Children are in for a real treat over the summer when LM&M offers special rides with beloved characters Curious George, Whyatt from SuperWhy! and Daniel Tiger – and the fun continues with “Day Out With Thomas” and Friday night pizza trains. If this railroad looks familiar, you might have seen its cameo in the 1994 movie Milk Money.
Managed, operated and maintained completely by volunteers, the Hocking Valley Scenic Railway is a tribute to history lovers. Trains run on the weekends and offer passengers both enclosed and open air cars to enjoy the scenery. Families wanting a little drama should be sure to check out “Ohio’s Friendliest Train Robbery” which will make passengers feel as if they have traveled back in time to the days of outlaws and bandits.
This 19-mile scenic railroad is part of an operating railroad museum. Dating back to 1867, the Whitewater Valley Railroad is a true piece of Indiana history. The railroad offers regularly scheduled excursions throughout the year, but families are in for something special over the summer aboard the “American Limited” where passengers will be transported back to a Civil War battle and enjoy a layover in the historic town, Metamora. And the youngest locomotive buffs will be excited to know that “Day Out With Thomas” will be offered multiple dates as well.
French Lick Scenic Railway (Photo Above)
French Lick, Indiana
With “some of the best scenery in the Midwest” a family excursion to the French Lick Scenic Railway is fun for all ages. In addition to standard excursions, the railway offers themed rides throughout the summer. Want to feel like the star of an old Western movie? Hop aboard the “Wild West Hold-Up” and witness the River Renegades looting the train. Guests will enjoy traveling through the Hoosier National Forest and spending the day exploring French Lick as well.
Looking for a little luxury on the rails? Then the Spirit of Jasper is perfect for you. Delivering on the promise of the Golden Age of Rails, the Spirit of Jasper transports passengers on a beautifully restored train. Take an excursion to French Lick or enjoy dinner and drinks during a “Ride and Dine” excursion. Be sure to check out the Parlour Car, which features leather couches and a flat screen television, a modern makeover for a classic train.
Situated in the heart of coal country, the Big South Fork Scenic Railway is steeped in history. During its heyday, the railway stretched for 25 miles through Kentucky and Tennessee. Today, the railway seeks to preserve the history of the coal mining and timber industries. Passengers can enjoy the “K&T Special” – a three-hour ride through the area’s beautiful countryside, including a 600-foot descent into the gorge and a visit to the Blue Heron Coal Mining Camp. In the summer, combine a canoe trip with your train ride on a special Rivers & Rails package excursion.
New Haven, Kentucky
The Kentucky Railway Museum gives visitors a glimpse into the history of rail travel while providing them an opportunity to experience it firsthand. In addition to regularly scheduled excursions, summer passengers can look forward to a “Day Out With Thomas” as well as a “Sunday Train Robbery.” Interested in a little intrigue? Be sure to check out the “Mystery Theater and Train Ride” which caters to adults and older children. For the youngest train enthusiasts, the Kentucky Railway Museum offers a “Junior Engineer” program, which includes unlimited admission for a year as well as other perks such as a birthday message and a postcard.
The tracks are calling – so “move your caboose” and plan a train trip (or two) with your family this summer!