If you’re looking for a day out for a curious toddler and a husband with mild train obsession – this is the place to be near San Fransisco and Santa Cruz.
We purchased our tickets online which is strongly recommended to avoid queueing. However, it will not save you the fight for seating, this bit was a little annoying with a small toddler. There’s no time slot booked with your ticket, so you can get on any train you catch. I suggest to be early and visit in the morning or late afternoon and take one of the last trains.
There’s two train routes to choose from: the Redwood Forest Steam Train Route and the Santa Cruz Beach Train Route. We opted for the steam train ride which is about an hour and 20 minutes but it only feels like a half an hour because you’re just enjoying the scenery of trees and the ride itself. The cars were open air with bench seating along the perimeter. The train does stop halfway and you can get out for a little walk in the magnificent redwood forest. Wonderful park-like grounds with some historical-looking buildings giving you an old-town feeling (I loved the room showing silent movies) and a lots of green field area for the little ones to run around. All employees wear historical costumes from the mid 1800’s. If you can, take your own food and have a picnic. The picnic area is great and the food you can buy at the cafe is quite bad. The best you can eat is hamburger and corn dog (yuck!). There’s a BBQ area where you can also buy food, but we didn’t eat there.
To make the most of your day trip you can combine your Roaring Camp experience with a side trip to the Henry Cowell Redwood State Park, which is just next door. You can easily walk the Redwood Grove Loop Trail after your train ride, as it’s only 0,8 miles. It’s a wonderful walk and apart from the gorgeous old trees you can see some deers too!