Trainspotters of all ages will love the railroad-themed Sonoma Traintown Railroad, located in the town of Sonoma. This quarter-scale railroad park was the dream of Oakland printer Stanley Frank, who filled 10 acres with scaled-down locomotives and train cars built as exact replicas of classic full-size versions, making Traintown one of the most detailed sets of scaled trains in the country.
Given the scope, the 1968 Traintown definitely feels larger than its 10 acres, dotted with Japanese-style landscaping. Frank got raves from model railroad experts for the park, which he described as “an elaborate table top railroad, which is outdoors and rideable; where sense of direction is lost, and best appreciated by the under sophisticated and over sophisticated."
Indeed, you don’t just get to look at these trains—you get to ride them too. A 20-minute tour winds through tunnels and over bridges before stopping at Lakeview, Traintown’s own village that includes a petting zoo of barnyard critters—bring plenty of quarters to buy kibble from the vending machines. And the rides go beyond the trains, too. There are five other little-kid-friendly rides, too, including an all-heights carousel, a small coaster, and a Ferris wheel.
Park admission and parking are both free for the whole family—you just buy tickets for individual attractions instead. On weekdays, you’ll avoid any crowds, but most of the rides are closed. It’s conveniently located in the heart of the Sonoma County town—just one mile from the historic Sonoma Plaza and a very short drive from family-friendly spots such as Nathanson Creek Park and Sonoma Garden Park.