North Carolina September 02, 2017
This Dreamy Train-Themed Trip Through North Carolina Will Take You On The Journey Of A Lifetime
Just last week we covered the
Great Smoky Mountains ‘Uncorked’ wine train. So far, the article has garnered almost 60,000 shares with many expressing interest in hopping aboard this wildly unique ride on the finer side of life. Judging from that, it’s safe to say people in North Carolina really like trains. It’s no surprise as the locomotive industry is a deep part of North Carolina’s history, economy, and culture. While the wine train might be sold out this year, there’s plenty of other ways to hop on board in the Tar Heel state.
We’re aware that these uncertain times are limiting many aspects of life. While we continue to feature destinations that make our state wonderful, please take proper precautions or add them to your bucket list to see at a later date. If you know of a local business that could use some extra support during these times, please nominate them here:
1. Choo Choo straight to the Wild West at Tweetsie Railroad
This beloved, family owned establishment has been bringing western-themed amusement to adults and children since 1957. The star train, Engine No.12 once roamed the mountains of TN and NC and today gives visitors a thrilling ride through the Blue Ridge Mountains. In their 60th Anniversary year, Tweetsie has planned extra special events all year long which includes a debut of the new Tweetsie Christmas.
Many venture to Tweetsie come fall for the popular Ghost Train. This beloved spooky, Halloween-themed event takes place this year starting Sept 22nd and operating on weekends through October 28th. It's important to book your tickets early as certain weekends sell out. Even better, coordinate your trip to lovely Blowing Rock with
peak leaf season.
Even if you can't make it for Ghost Train and are still searching for some good ol' fashioned fun, Tweetsie is the perfect place to spend a day on thrilling rides, catching a can can show, witnessing a Wild Wild West shootout, or hopping on board.
Read our full guide to Tweetsie and other Anniversary events
2. Train station turned restaurant
Olde Hickory transitioned from bustling train station to a delicious establishment giving diners a taste of the past and five-star cuisine. While the building has found a new purpose the former energy is very much alive with the now-owners including touches of station's past in the form of rustic decor and exposed brick.
Olde Hickory features upscale cuisine that changes with the season, 50 beers on tap, a great selection of wine, and also a grab-and-go section full of baked goods and deli items. Located in downtown Hickory, diners also love the large patio that allows them to sit back and watch the trains go by (it's right on the tracks), shoot some corn hole, or take in the views.
Read our full guide on Olde Hickory Station
3. Fall foliage train ride
The Great Smoky Mountains Railroad is perfect for making the most of peak leaf season by offering fall foliage train rides with open air gondolas or first class seats. The Nantahala Gorge Excursion helps you make the most of all by taking you along Fontana Lake and rugged and beautiful Nantahala Gorge. Allowing you to witness rarely-seen nature the best time to book your fall train ride is now. The 4 1/2 hour ride departs from Bryson and travels along 44-miles of mountain landscape ending back in Bryson City.
For more information,
read our guide here.
4. Triangle train ride
Don't worry, if you find yourself in the central part of the state you don't have to travel to the mountains for a classic locomotive experience. New Hope Valley Triangle Train is ran completely by volunteers and mixes history and fun. On-board narration provides insight to North Carolina's locomotive history while themed, holiday-rides offer something fun and different for those in the Piedmont or Triad. Rides take place on Saturday morning.
Wondering about other must-take train rides? We've already
compiled five for you.
5. The Polar Express is real!
Is it too early to start planning for Christmas? Trust me, I'm in the same boat of not uttering those words prior to Halloween, but when it comes to booking tickets on the highly-anticipated Polar Express, planning now is best. The magical train ride operated by Great Smoky Mountains Railroad recreates the magic of the classic book by by Chris Van Allsburg that many of us read each Christmas Eve.
Just like the book, children board the train in their jammies and are served hot cocoa and sung Christmas carols by a very convincing waitstaff. The little ones are encouraged to get involved in the fun and sing along.
The journey to the North Pole lasts an hour and 15 minutes. Once you arrive, Santa will be waiting at the North Pole, where each child will receive a silver bell. From children to adults, after this amazing journey, it's safe to say you'll hear a bell ring. This year's Polar Express begins November 10 and operates through December 31.
To learn more about this amazing journey,
read our guide here.
To book a ticket,
There’s no way not to love the various ways to hop on board or experience our locomotive history in North Carolina. Which ones have you done?