The last day of our trip we decided to check out Roaring Camp Railroads since both of my kids like museums or anything historic and Lego Boy especially loves anything that has to do with trains. Roaring Camp was located just outside of Santa Cruz so after packing up and doing a sweep of our rooms to make sure we didn’t miss anything we took off fueled on doughnuts coffee and strawberry milk.
You had to pay for parking, but entrance to the park was free. To enter the park you cross this cute covered bridge and walk past a pond into “town”. It has a school house, a sheriff’s office, a community hall (used for large party rentals), a general store (gift shop), and a ticket office/small train depot. Also when you look around the property there are two cars that have been turned into kitchens that they serve food out of with outdoor picnic style seating, some out buildings made from old cars, just a regular building that houses more of their offices and the restrooms, and an outdoor BBQ/Party area.
They had lots of fields that kids could roam and play, and they were dog friendly as long as they are on a leash and have good behavior. Also they did have many picnic tables around, but unless you bought food from them you had to pay a table rental fee which just seemed completely silly to me. I guess they must do must of their business on facility rentals and such to have such a random fee? I figured if we ever went back and meant to picnic that it would be just as nice to bring a blanket and toss down on the grass for a good old fashioned picnic!
What we did end up doing was ordering some burgers and hotdogs and using their tables. The food was pretty good, but pricey for the simplicity of it. They can get away with it since there are no other restaurants in the area.
Now the big draw is the train rides, they have one that goes down to Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk and back and another that goes into the Redwoods. That is what we came for, however it was such a nice place to just be and let the kids explore that we decided to wait until a cheaper afternoon prices on the tickets and enjoy our day exploring and relaxing. They were running a special “Kid for a Day” where you could purchase the tickets for kid’s prices but it was only on the afternoon train. We decided on the Redwood train since we had already been to the boardwalk a few days before. We would like to return in the future and take that train ride as well. Also being dog friendly the dogs could ride the trains with us! (This is at the conductor’s discretion so if it is a busy day or your dog is not well behaved you may be asked to muzzle your dogs with ones they supply or asked not to bring them aboard.)
So we started our walk about down near the BBQ pits which is right where the Redwood Steam Train comes by when it returns to the station. It was hilarious because as it comes down it stops by a duck pond and lets out a bunch of steam to clean itself. When this happened hubby and my son sat down to watch but the dogs completely freaked and tried to run away so we stepped back to calm them down. I picked up our little Coco and she tried to scrabble over my shoulder to continue running away! I think Blanca only really spooked because Coco did. My decision after that was that I would go back to the car at some point before our ride and get my backpack so that she could go inside of that on the train and if she was scared she could hunker down and hide in it. Between the backpack and hanging around for a while both dogs were used to the sounds of the train by the time we boarded later in the day.
While waiting for the train we wondered around, sat on a bench in the shade chatting and relaxing while the kids ran around the field and played. Hubby might have even laid on the grass in the shade and had a little nap. Later in the afternoon we checked out the gift shop and let the kids sit in the little movie theater room watching older cartoons.
The train ride was worth the wait and we are glad we chose to take the Redwood Steam Train. The ride was gorgeous winding through the hills as the conductor talked about various things of interest such as the age of the train we were riding on. At the rest stop you could take pictures with the engine of the train, enjoy nature, kids could play on huge fallen trees and there was restrooms as well. There was hiking trails in the hills we were riding through so we also occasionally saw serious hikers and mountain bikers. I say serious because the terrain was way more than I would ever take on, so not for the out of shape like me!
After the train ride we decided it was time to head out to get home at a decent time since I had to work the next day. We really enjoyed our time there and would go back again! It was quiet and not all the attractions were open, but it was because we were there on a weekday and most of their activities are scheduled for the weekend when they are probably busier.
|Coco snuggled in for the ride|
|A switchback like logging trains use|
|They have to release steam to clean the engines insides|
If you haven't already check out what we did other days of our vacation: