Riding the Rails at Sonoma Train Town
July 21, 2012Posted by pamela |
It's been a while since we've been to TrainTown, the fun and fantastic miniature railroad located in the town of Sonoma, so we decided recently that it was time for a return trip. It's been around since before I was a kid, and it's the kind of place that takes you back to a simpler time.
Sonoma Train Town offers train-related activities that are fun for everyone from toddlers to gradeschool kids (and adults, too), as well as a selection of carnival-style rides. It's also a short drive from pretty much anywhere in Marin, which makes TrainTown a must-visit attraction for North Bay families.
A Sonoma Valley landmark since the early 1950s, TrainTown has that old-fashioned roadside-attraction kind of charm associated with a bygone era. It's right on Broadway as you head into town, and it's impossible to miss. My kids were so excited when we arrived at TrainTown—they could hardly wait to get on for a ride. Buy your tickets, and hop on when the train arrives at the station.
On our ride my son jumped into the first seat behind the locomotive. It was a lot of fun to be in the front of the train, but we did catch some of the exhaust from the engine. TrainTown actually has several different locomotives including steam- and diesel-powered versions.
During the mile-and-a-quarter train ride, you make a short stop at the quarter-scale model town of Lakeville which has a number of buildings to explore as well as a petting zoo populated by friendly and eager goats and sheep. You can purchase food out of machines to feed the animals, so make sure to have some quarters on hand.
We also strolled in and out of the church, jail, firehouse, and other buildings in the little Old West-style town. After the stop, we got back on board and headed back to the station, taking in the scenic grounds as we rode over bridges and through tunnels.
Once the ride was over, my kids wanted to head to the amusement rides on the grounds, which included a carousel, ferris wheel, plane ride, swing chairs, roller coster, and a scrambler. Kids can also play on the three full-sized cabooses on the grounds. There's a gift shop selling railroad-related toys and paraphernalia, including the ubiquitous Thomas the Tank Engine stuff.
Sonoma TrainTown is a great destination for a summer vacation day or any other time, for that matter. Of course you have the added bonus of being up in the world famous Sonoma Valley, with its renowned restaurants, wineries, and historic sites.
TrainTown also offers birthday parties, with a party space on their second-level observation platform (near the landmark clock tower). Reserve a picnic table ($90 for two hours), or purchase a party package ($17.75 per person) that includes a picnic table, train tickets, hot dogs, cupcakes, drinks, ride tickets, and an engineer cap for the birthday child. Call TrainTown at (707) 938-2559 Monday–Thursday, 8–10 am for more birthday party information.
If You Go
Sonoma TrainTown is located at 20264 Broadway, and is open daily June 1 through August 31 from 10 am to 5 pm, and Fridays (limited operation—train, carousel, and airplane ride only), Saturdays and Sundays from September 1 through May 31. TrainTown is closed on Thanksgiving and Christmas.
Admission to the grounds and parking are free. Train ride tickets cost $5.75 per person for all ages; children under 12 months old are free. Tickets for the carnival rides are $2.75 each, and you can buy a family pack of six tickets for $12. For more information, visit www.traintown.com or call (707) 938-3912.
No outside food or beverages are allowed, but they sell snacks, drinks, and hot dogs at their concession stand. You could always bring a lunch and picnic up the street at the Sonoma Plaza afterward, or grab some pizza next door at Pizzeria Capri.
To get there from Marin, take Highway 101 to Highway 37 east, then turn off onto Highway 121 at Sears Point. Follow Highway 121 north and bear right at Schellville, following the signs to Sonoma and Napa. Turn left on Broadway/Highway 12 and follow it into Sonoma. TrainTown will be on your right, just after Napa Road.