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Sacramento River Train

Ride along a stretch of Gold Country landscape while dining, wine-tasting, or watching a show

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Get a feel for the golden era of California railroad travel on this West Sacramento train, which combines a historic stretch of track with everything from craft beer tastings and live music to Wild West-style shows.

The 14 miles of track, running from West Sacramento to Woodland in Yolo County, just west of the capital city, were first laid in 1911 by the Northern Electric Company, and the line was used for years to transport goods from local farms into the city. Once Northern Electric merged with Sacramento Northern Railways, the line offered eight daily round-trip passenger trains between Woodland and Sacramento until World War II.

The six-car train that runs today—a combination of open-air cars and enclosed, air-conditioned coaches—got a makeover in 2015, beyond its exterior of California gold and blue, river-like waves. “We enhanced the interior of the cars, harkening back to the proud legacy of passenger rail travel,” says Rashael Parker, chief marketing officer for the family-owned company, “with timeless fabrics, tin-inspired ceilings, and wood finishes.”

The train cruises along at just 10 to 15 miles per hour, offering a leisurely view of the river and farmlands, and often providing enough time for a meal or a show. Take the two-hour RiverTrain Excursion for the views, and perhaps also for the add-on breakfast with mimosas. The other excursions offer a variety of experiences—like the Old Vine Express (with live music and tastings from 15 different Northern California wineries), the Beer Train (with more live music and a focus on local craft beers), and the Great Train Robbery, a Wild West-style showdown that ends happily (as in, with a barbecue picnic lunch).

There is also a full slate of holiday trains, from Easter, Mother’s Day, and Father’s Day trains during spring and summer to the Pumpkin Train in the fall and the Magical Christmas Train in December. “The train is a truly unique venue, from its narrow hallways to its rocking motion and open-air patio cars,” says Parker. “Every moment onboard feels distinctly like traveling through a bygone era.” 

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