Redwood forests and mountains might be more scenically impressive, but there’s a different kind of ambience to be had in California’s flatlands. And the dog-friendly excursion trains that operate here provide plenty of diversions.
Take, for example, the electric trains of the Western Railway Museum, a repository of history from the pre-Interstate days when Northern California communities were connected by “interurban” railroads. The biggest player was the Sacramento Northern, whose trunk line stretched 184 miles from Chico to San Francisco.
Its heritage, and that of other electric trains, is preserved at the Western Railway Museum outside Suisun City in Solano County. For the price of admission, visitors (including dogs) can enjoy 50-minute, 11-mile round-trip rides in old interurban train cars. You’ll roll through unchanged farmland (lots of wildflowers in spring) with views of Mount Diablo and pristine marshlands. There are also more than 50 historic interurban and trolley cars from other lines to enjoy, as well as educational exhibits and shady picnic grounds spread over 22 acres. Dogs can ride the trains but they must be leashed, sit on their owner’s lap, or sit on floor next to their owner.
Another Central Valley gem is the Sacramento River Fox Train, operated by the same management as the Skunk Train in Mendocino County. It runs leisurely, 28-mile round trips between West Sacramento and Woodland, welcoming families with dogs in open-air cars (up to five dogs per trip permitted). Trips showcase Gold Rush history with a farm stop midway. Dogs are welcome on beer and wine excursions, too. Start your trip on either end and enjoy a round trip.