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Thursday, May 7, 2015

Guest Post: Tweetsie Railroad

Tweetsie Railroad

We frequently take our boys to Tweetsie Railroad.  They love the train and all the rides.  It’s a great place for kids of any age.

Tweetsie is just this side of Blowing Rock.  It takes us about two hours to get there so we usually leave fairly early.  You can enter the park after 3 and come back the next day with the same ticket if you’re not an early family.  I can’t remember the exact cost but it’s not that cheap.  The nice thing is that you only have to buy the one ticket.  The train and all the rides are included in the initial ticket cost.

Tweetsie Railroad (photo courtesy visitnc.com)

We usually start with the fair style rides at the middle rides section, Country Fair.  It has the go cart track, a ferris wheel, and lots of other rides.  By the time we ride all those rides, it’s about time for lunch.

We usually bring our lunch just to save a little money.  They’ve never stopped us or said anything about bringing in outside food and drink.  I usually just slip a cooler into my backpack so it’s easier to carry.  There are plenty of picnic tables and food places.  We have bought lunch in the park so we wouldn’t have so much to carry.  The food is good but, as you might image, a little expensive for burger and fries.  There is a great little ice cream shop near the train station too.

The train ride is a lot of fun.  If you’ve never been, the train is an antique steam engine.  It makes various stop along the tracks in the woods and actors perform little skits and shows.  Be aware that the characters do board the train but they just walk down the aisle.  It’s all cowboys and indians theme, of course.  There is a fair bit of adult humor in the shows but it’s over the kids’ heads.  They do shoot at each other but most of the shows end with the characters learning a lesson. Anyone who was “shot” stands up and waves as the train leaves so the kids know they weren’t really hurt. If you’re not crazy about the Wild West gun thing, go on the Day Out With Thomas; there are no guns that day.

We usually end with the Miner’s Mountain at the very top of the mountain.  You take a chair lift to get up there, although I think there is a path for wheel chairs and such.  I’ve seen a van before so they must have some sort of option for handicap visitors.  There is a playground, a deer park/petting zoo, and, my boy’s favorite, the mouse mine mini train ride.

There are also plenty of shows and indoor entertainment if you need a break.  We haven’t been to those in a while so I’m not really sure what they are like these days.  There’s also lots of shops and stores.  Everything is kid friendly.  They have fake horses and carriages in front of some of the stores that kids can climb on.  There’s also a giant teepee and some Native American pieces.

There is definitely enough to entertain the whole family all day.  If you decide to go, I do have a few recommendations.  If you go in the morning or in the fall, take a light jacket.  You will also want to bring sunglasses for the train ride.  Sometimes the coal dust drifts through the open train cars.  It won’t hurt you but it’s uncomfortable to get it in your eyes.  I highly recommend a baby carrier instead of a stroller for little ones.  Tweetsie is literally on the side of a mountain so it’s not the easiest place to maneuver a stroller.  They do have stroller rentals there if you change your mind after arriving.  They also have stroller parking areas by the train and the chair lift.  If you do use a baby carrier, you can front carry a child on the chair lift much easier than trying to hold onto a little one.  I’ve never been concerned about safety with my oldest (he was 3 at his first visit) on the chair lift.  It’s slow and the operator is there to help you get on and off.  I was glad to have the baby carrier on the chair lift when my youngest was still under a year old.

It’s great for entertaining kids of different ages.  There seems to be a little something for everyone.  My oldest is too big to ride the kiddie rides now but there are plenty of other rides he enjoys.  They have a lot of special events and things too.  Just be aware that those days are particularly crowded.  Day Out with Thomas was so slammed you had to pre-book your train ride time and I was very glad we brought our own lunch that day.  All in all, Tweetsie is a great family day trip.

Review submitted by Leslie Wannamaker, a local mom of two. Leslie is a highly qualified, certified instructor offering tutorial to students 8th grade-college in Language Arts, SAT/ACT prep, study skills, and more. Visit her pages at https://plus.google.com/+MrsWannamakersTutorialGreensboro and https://www.facebook.com/wannamakerstutorial

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