There's a certain romance to trains and railroads. Maybe even more in our get-there-quickly lifestyle, trains offer something more leisurely. But even more, trains hold a particular fascination to kids and if riding an Amtrak train is a bit too intimidating, riding a miniature or small-scale train is just plain fun. San Diego has a few miniature railroads available to the public to ride and even though they may take you nowhere, they'll take you back to another place and time. Discover San Diego County's miniature railroads right here.
If you've visited the San Diego Zoo, then you're probably familiar with the Balboa Park Miniature Railroad. If you have kids, then you definitely are familiar with this beloved San Diego landmark. Located just west of the Zoo entrance next to the Balboa Park Carousel, the miniature scale orange and red train takes you on a 3-minute, half-mile trip through four acres of Balboa Park. Operated by the San Diego Zoo, the train is a model G16 - now a rare antique with as few as fifty currently remaining. And at $2 a ride, it's one of the best bargains and sure-fire smile inducers around. Regular hours: Sat. Sun. (and school holidays), 11:00 a.m. - 4:30 p.m. June 17 through Labor Day, Daily. 11:00 a.m. - 5:30 p.m; (until 6:30pm on Sundays).
The Poway-Midland Railroad isn't really a miniature railroad - it's more of a small railroad that runs full scale vintage trains at Old Poway Park. Run by the Poway-Midland Railroad Volunteers, the railroad features some great vintage locomotives and cars. The railroad runs Saturdays at 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sundays at 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. (except second Sunday of each month). Different types of trains operate on different days, so check the website for train schedule. Fares: $1.50 to $2.50.
If you've been to Rohr Park in Chula Vista on the second weekend of the month, you might have noticed a miniature train circling the park. That's the Sweetwater & Rohr Park Railroad, run by the Chula Vista Live Steamers, a group of steam train and railroad hobbyists. The railroad is a one-eighth scale track running through Rohr Park. The train runs every second weekend of the month from 12-3 p.m. For more information, please call (619) 422-3175.
The Pacific Southwest Railway Museum is located in Campo in San Diego's East County and features over eighty major pieces of railroad equipment, including steam and diesel locomotives, passenger cars, freight cars and cabooses are available for inspection and interpretation. The special feature of the museum are actual train rides on the old tracks running through the back country of San Diego County and along the Mexican border. Check the website for excursion details.