The Santa Cruz Mountains were once a vibrant logging area—and with logging came railroads. Today, logging is largely gone, but one leftover from that bygone time is the charming scenic railway at the Santa Cruz Roaring Camp Railroads. Century-old steam locomotives take passengers on entertaining rides into redwood country, offering intimate views and big vistas of towering redwoods. Year-round, trains depart from tiny Felton to make an hour-long loop through forests to the summit of Bear Mountain. Along the way, conductors share interesting stories and information about the region and its railroad history.
For an entertaining treat, join a themed train ride, offered throughout the year. Consider a ride on the Starlight Evening Train, ride to a campfire supper and sing-along on the Western Moonlight Dinner Train, or root for the hero during a Great Train Robbery. Roaring Camp itself is a recreated 1880s logging camp, with sites including a covered bridge, a period opera house, and a classic general store. Kids enjoy watching demonstrations in blacksmithing and making candles by hand.
Daily in summer (weekends in spring and fall), Roaring Camp also operates a round/trip Santa Cruz Beach Train, picking up and dropping off passengers in Felton and at the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk.
The trains have both covered and open-air passengers cars. If you opt for open-air seating, consider bringing earplugs or sound-blocking headphones for babies or young toddlers with sensitive ears. There’s plenty of kid-friendly fare available for purchase, but this is one of the few attractions that allows visitors to bring in their own food.
Thomas the Tank Engine stops by once or twice throughout the year. These days are especially popular, so buy your tickets well in advance and get there early.