Excursion-train rides are fun for the whole family, and several lines in Northern California allow dogs to ride along, too. Our pick for a fall rail outing: Pumpkin Trains at the Western Railway Museum in Solano County.
This relatively undiscovered (and dog-friendly) gem of a living-history museum gives visitors the opportunity to ride historic street cars and interurban electric trains collected from throughout California and the western states. Pumpkin Patch trains run the first three weekends of October (starting Oct. 7), delivering passengers to a fun zone with live music, a straw fort, gift shop, pumpkin-chunkin’ booth, pick-a-pumpkin patch and more. Fare is $14 for adults, $10 for kids 2-14, $12 for seniors 65 and older.
Other dog-friendly rail options in NorCal include:
Mendocino County’s Skunk Trains, so named because the self-propelled, gasoline-powered “railbus” cars stunk to high heaven, depart out of Willits and Fort Bragg for dog-friendly, seasonally themed trips through the redwoods.
In Santa Cruz County, Roaring Camp Railroad operates steam excursion trains on a narrow-gauge track once used to haul giant redwood logs from the forest. Its Harvest Faire & Steam Festival, Sept. 30-Oct. 1, welcomes fall with children’s activities including craft making, gold panning, pumpkin picking and more, while steam-powered exhibits run the gamut from printing presses to player pianos.
The Yosemite Sugar Pine Railroad in Fish Camp, near the entrance to the national park, is irresistible not only to rail buffs, but to families who want to make lasting memories. Dogs are welcome on daytime rides aboard cars pulled by a 1913 logging locomotive. Picnic grounds and hiking trails extend the experience.
At Tuolumne County’s Railtown 1897 State Historic Park, dogs can accompany their people in open-air cars pulled by vintage locomotives along a 6-mile, 45-minute route. Harvest Haunt Express trains run weekends in October with a “skeleton crew” and fun weekly themes, while Polar Express trains run eight days in November and December (ticket sales open Oct. 12) In between, enjoy Tales of the Roundhouse Haunted Tours on Oct. 20-21.