Family-Friendly Train Ride Vacation Ideas

The thrill of a train ride is something little boys live for. And, let’s be honest, they aren’t the only ones who crave the excitement of riding the rails and seeing the world from a different perspective. There is something intoxicating about relaxing with a good meal in a comfortable dining car while beautiful countryside whizzes by your window. When you travel by train you find a whole new world of sightseeing opportunity awaits you. It becomes possible to not only get to your destination safely, but you can sit back and enjoy the ride instead of having to worry about maps, cramped car spaces or finding a place to stop for a good meal.

When the family travels by train, the whole family gets to relax and enjoy the trip with the added bonus of getting to see some of the most beautiful countryside the world has to offer. Instead of staring out a car window at an endless expanse of highway, your view is that of open countryside, beautiful mountain ranges and stunning coastlines. Not to mention the excitement for the kids — both the young and the young at heart! When you pick the right train ride to complement your vacation plans the train ride can wind up being more fun than the destination itself.

Ride the Jacobite Through the Highlands of Scotland

If you should happen to find yourself in the U.K., your kids will thank you (and, to be honest, you’re going to enjoy this one yourself) if you take them on the Harry Potter train. The Jacobite steam train, operated by West Coast Railways, takes you on one of the most beautiful scenic train rides in the world through the highlands of Scotland. The 84-mile, round-trip journey takes you from Fort William to Mallaig via the 21-arch Glennfinnan Viaduct of Hogwart’s Express fame.

Amtrak Train

© James Menges |

Travel the Most Scenic Route on the West Coast

America’s Pacific coast offers some of the most spectacular and varied scenery in the country. Amtrak’s Coast Starlight route takes travelers from Seattle to Los Angeles aboard a comfortable sleeper-car train. The 1,377-mile journey showcases the beauty of the West Coast by traveling through the majestic Cascade Mountains, richly wooded forests, rolling hills and fertile farmland, not to mention the sparkling jeweled hues of the Pacific Ocean. The train runs daily and offers handicap accommodations but does not allow pets.

See Switzerland from the Chocolate Train

The Chocolate Train combines beautiful scenery and delectable Swiss Chocolate for a railway experience the whole family will love. This train operates only a few months out of the year in May, June, September and October, so be sure to plan your trip around this sweet treat. With its engine car decorated in gold like a giant chocolate bar, everything about this ride caters to your sweet tooth. While traveling between the Swiss cities of Montreux, Broc (home of the Cailler-Nestle chocolate factory) and Gruyeres and back, the nine-hour trip takes you through the beautiful Swiss countryside while you sip coffee and snack on chocolates and cheese.