Consistently ranked as one of the best railroad museums in the country, the expansive California State Railroad Museum in Sacramento presents 21 meticulously restored “iron horse” locomotives, plus period-perfect railway cars, many open for one-of-a-kind walk-throughs. Incredible attention to detail—authentic china and silverware in dining cars, velvet and finery in the Pullman sleeping cars, a charmingly stubby wooden caboose—give you a sense of what it was like to travel by train before cars became king.
Numerous exhibits detail the ways that railroads shaped the lives, economy, culture, and history of the Golden State. Kids will enjoy being able to step aboard Pullman-style sleeping cars, a dining car filled with railroad china, and a replica of a railway post office. There’s even a high-speed train simulator that allow visitors to feel what it’s like to pilot a modern high-speed train. Guided tours of the museum are offered daily and special events include the “Spookomotive Train Ride“ on weekends in October and a winter holiday train ride, complete with a visit from a gift-bearing Santa, in November and December.
On spring and summer weekends (April–September), the museum offers excursion rides every hour on the popular Sacramento Southern Railroad, which chugs along the banks of the Sacramento River right through Old Sacramento. Take in the view from a first-class observation car, a closed coach, or an open-air gondola (guess which one kids like best).