Ok so you all know we have an active 5yo. And just as we are getting ready for school, an enterprising friend asked us to a playdate to ride the Thomas train at Roaring Camp Railroads :). You have to book the tickets online at roaringcamp.com and they are delivered or can be picked up at the venue.We planned for an afternoon train, leaving us plenty of time to get there. Even so it was quite crowded when we did get there and it took some time to park, so planning to arrive extra 30 minutes before your train would be a good idea.
Once there find your carriage number and get into your carriage. A note here, you can book a covered carriage or not, while the open one is fun, we had reserved a covered one that did help keep us kool, as though the ride is through mostly shaded forests, it was a hot day. It also help if you are ahead in the que to choose a good spot - try and choose one that is along the side you enter as it is the one with the better view along the forest as well. The ride itself , roundtrip is about an hour, through the Redwood forest to the summit of bear mountain and back The train itself is steam powered and on a narrow gauge track, a fun old world feeling. The route passes over some of the fall creek trails and of course we immediately noted that for a future hike/post - best part there was water in the creek and lots of people /kids splashing about in it. Btw the engine is not Thomas the Tank engine, but one of the train cars. After the ride there is photo opportunity with the Thomas the tank car, and you can ask the camp photographers to take a picture or you can take one of your own.
Once the ride is over there is still plenty to do - the campgrounds are full of children's activities, from meeting Sir Topham Hat, so visiting the schoolhouse to hear a Thomas story, Mr. Miraculous's magic and juggling show, tattoos, face painting, bubbles, a play construction site, thomas train tables and many more such. Picnic tables and restrooms are aplenty and reasonably clean, and there are some snacks on sale. Also on sale in the gift shops are Thomas knick knacks and toys, we got a great wooden train whistle for around $8.
While primarily kid oriented, this train ride is also a great way to take visitors, who can/will not hike to see the beauty and majesty of the Bay area's redwood forests. All in all a good way to spend a summer afternoon, surrounded by kids enjoying their holidays.