Top 5 Train Family Experiences in San Diego


San Diego is a haven for families, with attractions like the San Diego Zoo, SeaWorld, and picture-perfect beaches. But for those seeking unique, off-the-beaten-path experiences, America’s Finest City offers hidden gems perfect for train enthusiasts. From the nostalgic Balboa Park Miniature Train to the educational Chula Vista Live Steamers, there is something for everyone. Explore vintage trains at the Pacific Southwest Railway Museum or enjoy a ride at the Poway-Midland Railroad. Even LEGOLAND has a train adventure for the whole family to enjoy.


Balboa Park Miniature Train
This charming train, in operation since 1948, chugs along a scenic half-mile track between the San Diego Zoo and the carousel. It is a nostalgic experience that many San Diegans fondly remember from their own childhoods and now share with their kids. Little ones under the age of one ride for free, and tickets for ages one to 99 are just $4. The train station is conveniently located outside the Zoo’s exit, making it easily accessible for families.


Chula Vista Live Steamers
The dedicated members of the Chula Vista Live Steamers (CVLS) club, established in 1974, maintain and operate the tracks at Rohr Park. The CVLS club has always been passionate about recreating the magic of railroads, providing educational entertainment for children and adults alike. On the second Saturday and Sunday of each month from noon to 2:30 pm, visitors can enjoy free train rides, though donations are appreciated. After your ride, spend some quality time in Rohr Park with a picnic, playground fun, or kicking around a soccer ball.


Pacific Southwest Railway Museum
Hop aboard vintage trains for a 90-minute journey along the historic San Diego and Arizona Railway on Saturdays and Sundays. For an extra special experience, consider riding in the cab with the engineer. Before or after your ride, explore the museum featuring railroad equipment at various stages of restoration. Do not miss out on themed holiday rides like The Bunny Train, Pumpkin Express, and Santa Train North Pole Limited. It is recommended to make reservations for special event rides in order to secure your spot.


Poway-Midland Railroad at Old Poway Park
Operated by dedicated volunteers, these rains run on Saturdays and Sundays (except for the second Sunday of the month). Enjoy the steam locomotive on the first and third weekends, and the trolley or speeder on the second and fourth weekends. After your ride, explore Old Poway Park with its bridges, fountain, and excellent climbing trees, or grab a bite at the nearby Hamburger Factory.


LEGOLAND Express Train
Even at LEGOLAND, there is something for train enthusiasts of all ages. Located in Duplo Playtown, the LEGOLAND Express takes riders on two laps around a circular track through a farm featuring LEGO brick crops like carrots and corn. Unlike many other LEGOLAND rides, there are no height requirements for this one, but kids under 36 inches must be accompanied by a responsible rider who is 36 inches or taller.