When it comes to places to ride trains in Atlanta, young and old alike often have a one-track mind. Luckily, Atlanta has plenty of options for anyone who loves locomotives. You can spend the day as a mini engineer or book a night in one of these train cars you can sleep in for the ultimate train experience. All aboard for an amazing adventure!
Southeastern Railway Museum
The SRM is where all locomotive showgirls (and trains and busses) retire. Located on 35 acres in Duluth, the SRM is a treasure trove of restored double-decker busses, Pullman cars, diesel and steam locomotives, and cabooses. Check hours online and train schedule to catch a ride on the “big” train (an engine with a passenger car or caboose attached). Still, since its operation is subject to operator availability, your best bet is to call in advance. Also, take water, apply sunscreen, and wear tennis shoes.
3595 Buford Hwy.
The Southern Museum of Civil War and Locomotive History
If you know anything about Civil War history, you know that the General put the loco in the locomotive. Train-jacked, so to speak, by Northern spies posing as Confederate soldiers in Marietta, the General’s theft set in motion a race to sabotage Confederate communication lines. Recently, the conflict ended with a Federal custody lawsuit in 1978 between Tennessee and Georgia. Talk about some train drama. Whether your train buff will fully appreciate the backstory might be up for debate; however, there is no question that the exhibit will leave your fan reeling.
Note: This exhibit does not have a train to ride, but you’ll be blown away by the memorabilia and train history here.
2829 Cherokee St.
Stone Mountain Scenic Railway
If it’s a ride your kids are after, then it’s to the Stone Mountain Scenic Railway you must go. This 1940s restored train sports open-air passenger cars, which offer a much-needed breeze during the swelter of the Atlanta summer. The ride takes passengers on a 30-minute loop around the mountain’s base. Not interested in the other attractions at the park? You can purchase tickets to the train only and enjoy your picnic lunch at the playground inside the park grounds after your ride. However, be aware that all cars that enter the grounds are subject to an entrance fee.
1000 Robert E. Lee Blvd.
Stone Mountain, GA
The animals are great, but the train ride is what your kids will remember about their first trip to the Zoo. Located in the Children’s Zoo, you can meander through the animal exhibits until you (finally) reach it, or you can cut to your right when you enter the Zoo and go directly there. In addition to the Georgia Natural Gas Blue Flame Express Train, a replica of an 1863 locomotive, the Children’s Zoo is also home to a petting zoo, carousel, rock wall, and playground. The train runs every 15 or 20 minutes during regular Zoo operating hours, except in the case of rain or frigid temperatures.
800 Cherokee Ave. S.E.
MARTA … It’s Smarta!
If you’re looking for a fast, cheap, and easy train fix for your kiddos, MARTA is SMARTA. Let’s be honest. Trains are extraordinary, complicated, and nuanced marvels of engineering, but the allure of a train to your three-year-old boils down to two things: 1) it moves quickly, and 2) it makes all sorts of exciting noises. So, while a trip on MARTA may lack a conductor’s “all aboard” call, it is still an exciting train experience that won’t break the bank or kill your afternoon plan to run errands. Or, you can make a day of it by consulting the website for tourist attractions accessible by MARTA on the website.
Multiple On-Boarding Locations
Avalon Express Train
Take a ride along the Boulevard with the little ones. Avalon Express Train runs every weekend and putters along (on wheels) at a reasonable pace that will make even your youngest comfortable taking a lap behind its engine.
400 Avalon Blvd.
Get ready to tell your kids they’re going to eat dinner on a real train. The restaurant sits inside an old train car on top of original train tracks. Choose from Chinese cuisine, Sushi or Hibachi, including a kids’ menu with chicken, beef or shrimp options. Even though the train doesn’t move, it is guaranteed to be a dining experience you won’t soon forget.
2921 Paces Ferry Rd. S.E.
—Angelica Kajiwara & Shelley Massey