All Things Train in Lancaster, PA
All aboard! Calling all train enthusiasts, Lancaster is full of train-themed attractions. From museums and history, to rides and restaurants we have plenty of things for your railroad itinerary. We even have our very own “train town,” Strasburg, PA. Plus, there are a number of train events for you to add to your calendar. Read below to see what all there is to do, then start your planning full-steam ahead, just in time for National Train Day (May 11, 2019).
Strasburg Rail Road
Did you know that Lancaster County is home to America’s oldest operating railroad? Strasburg Rail Road was founded in 1832 and is still running today. Visitors can enjoy a 45-minute train ride through the picturesque farmland in Presidential, first-class, coach, and open-air cars. Once you are back at the station children can explore and play on pint-sized Pufferbelly and Cranky Cars. Throughout the year special events like the Easter Bunny Train, Santa’s Paradise, Christmas Tree Train, and Night Before Christmas Trains are held. Be sure to check the railroad’s website for more information and tickets to these popular, themed rides.
Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania
At this hands-on museum train-enthusiasts can sit in an engineer’s seat, explore a caboose, experience a turn-of-the-century passenger station, and inspect a 62-ton locomotive from underneath. With more than 100 historic locomotives and vintage railroad cars, the Museum is Pennsylvania’s premier museum of railroading and offers a world-class collection in addition to an education center and working restoration shop. True history lovers can even review their library and archives by appointment. The Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania has serveral themed days throughout the year like Reading Railroad Days, 1940s Swing Dance, Trains & Troops, and more! Dates and more information on these special events can be found on their website.
Middletown and Hummelstown Railroad
Enjoy an 11-mile train ride along the Swatara Creek and learn the history of the surrounding area. This 75-minute ride through the Swatara Creek Valley offers live narration and signalongs as well as special events like the Easter Bunny Express, Chicken BBQ Specials, Mother’s Day Special Dinner, Civil War Train Rides, and more! The original railroad company was founded in 1888 and was used by the Philadelphia and Reading Railroad until 1976.
Choo Choo Barn- Traintown, U.S.A.®
Experience one of America’s largest, most engaging custom model train displays. With more than 1,700 square-feet of special model train display, 22 operating trains, and over 150 hand build animated figures and vehicles this display is sure to impress you. The layout represents many scenes traditionally found around Lancaster County. Such as Dutch Wonderland Family Amusement Park, the Strasburg Rail Road, and even an authentic Amish barn raising. If you are visiting during the holiday season, stop by to see if you can find all the hidden Santas in the display.
National Toy Train Museum
Showcasing an extensive collection of toy trains from the mid 1800s to the present, train collectors will love the National Toy Train Museum. The museum even has seven interactive, operating layouts and represents over 100 different manufacturers. There is also a research library with information on toy trains and their manufacturers. The train displays are revised and updated yearly.
Steam Into History, Inc.
Steam into History offers riders an authentic experience via a replica Civil War-era steam locomotive as well as a mid-20th century diesel locomotive. The trains follow along the historic Northern Central Railway, which was a critical railroad that helped enable the Union victory in the Civil War and played a major role in the Industrial Revolution, allowing for transportation of products to wide geographic markets. President Abraham Lincoln rode the Northern Central Railway to and from Gettysburg when delivering the Gettysburg Address, and his funeral train passed from Baltimore to York via the NCRR.
Activities & Events:
The Great Train Robbery
Strasburg Rail Road | May 4, July 20, Oct. 12, 2019
Travel back in time to 1934 for an adventurous ride on the rails through scenic Amish country. An A-list celebrity is planning to travel in style at the railroad complete with high fashion, sparkling jewels, and bountiful riches. However, there have been alleged sightings of Bonnie and Clyde and their band of cohorts. The infamous pair are considered “armed and dangerous.” Watch out on this interactive ride, the action may happen anywhere!
A Day Out with Thomas
Strasburg Rail Road | June 22-30, 2019 or September 14-21, 2019
America’s favorite little blue engine, Thomas the Tank Engine, is chugging into Strasburg Rail Road! This family-favorite event features a ride with Thomas and offers the opportunity to ride with one of Thomas’ friends (Percy in June & September, or Mavis in October). With plenty of Thomas-related activities there are a lot of things to keep the kids occupied for a while.
Railroad Heritage Days
Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania | Sept. 7-8, 2019
Visitors can discover the amazing and diverse heritage of the industry that built our nation. The museum will showcase Pennsylvania’s many remarkable historical and contemporary railroads in presentations, model train displays, art, photography, tours, and more.
611 Visits Strasburg
Strasburg Rail Road | Sept. 27-30, Oct. 4-7, Oct. 12-14, Oct. 19-20, Oct. 26-27
Experience this once-in-a-lifetime steam train extravaganza as the Strasburg Rail Road welcomes the iconic Norfolk & Western Class J 611 passenger locomotive to join the Strasburg #475 locomotive. This event will feature whistle blowing, photo sessions, behind-the-scenes tours, family-themed activities, and exclusive in-cab opportunities where passengers can operate and fire the J Class 611 or Strasburg’s Class M #475. This reunion event of these two historic locomotives together is a rare opportunity which allows guest to explore the only Class ‘J’ passenger locomotive still in existence today.
Trains & Troops
Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania | Nov. 2-3, 2019
Come and honor our veterans, and the men and women currently in uniform while they experience many splendid railroad and military archival displays. Visitors can enjoy patriotic music and learn the significant role railroads played time and again in the defense of our nation.
Eateries & Accommodations:
Aboard the historic Strasburg Rail Road you can eat in the Strasburg Rail Road Dining Car. In this air-conditioned “Lee E. Brenner” dining car riders can take in the picturesque view of Amish Country while enjoying a special dining event. Try the Wine and Cheese train for a selection of wine, cheese, and crackers. Test your sleuthing skills on the Murder Mystery Dinner Train, or ride along for wing night! Lunch is served daily on the dining card as well. Be sure to check their schedule for when meal are available.
If you find there is too much to do in one day, why not stay the night in your own train car? At the Red Caboose Motel you can choose from 38 cabooses, a baggage car, and a mail car to sleep in. All cars are decorated in schemes of America’s most favorite railroads.
Also located at the Red Caboose visitors can dine at Casey Jones Restaurant for breakfast, lunch, or dinner in an actually Pullman dining car. The menu features many Pennsylvania Dutch favorites for you to enjoy as you watch trains and buggies go by.
If your family likes camping try the Loose Caboose Campground. Children will love their playground and looking around the real train car on the property. They are also pet friendly.