5 Scenic Train Rides Through America

NEW YORK (MainStreet) -- Getting to one destination from another by train was once as common as airplane travel is today.

In modern times, riding the rails is truly about the journey and not the destination as many trains take full advantage of their role as whimsical rides and historic novelties. There are dinner trains, themed mystery trains, haunted rail rides and many others.

Here are five of the best:

1. Fillmore & Western Railway Company - Fillmore, Calif.

Train enthusiasts take a step back in time when they board the 1930s-era rail cars in downtown Fillmore, a place time seems to have forgotten. There, a 1920s-era business district is home to plenty of throwback shops, and the Fillmore & Western Company hosts many train rides, including dinner trains, weekend scenic trains, lunch mystery trains and spa themed rides. There is even a “Shake, Rattle and Rail” train that is a themed 1950s rock and roll train.

In the fall, the railway hosts Pumpkin Liners, a train ride to Ichabog, the company’s private pumpkin patch, where the entire family can choose the perfect pumpkin to make that jack-o’-lantern for Halloween. For families with older children, choose The Headless Horseman Family Dinner Train, where riders look for the Headless Horseman after dark at Ichabog.

Train rides are scenic above all, passing by old citrus and avocado groves in the region, as well as providing stunning views of Mt. San Cayetano, the Topa Topa and South Mountain. Train prices vary, depending on the ride.

2. Austin Steam Train - Cedar Park, Texas

People wanting to ride a real steam locomotive will have to wait until the organization’s 1916 model is fully restored, but there’s still plenty of fun to be had on the 1960 model of the Austin Steam Train.

Since 1992, this nonprofit organization founded and maintained by train enthusiasts has carried 400,000 passengers from the town of Cedar Park to Burnet on a variety of themed and special train excursions. All of the rides take passengers through the beautiful Hill Country of Texas for three-hour adventures. One of the most popular rides, the Hill Country Flyer, is an all-day adventure, allowing riders to stop at Burnet for a wild west gunfight, shopping and lunch. The Bertram Flyer is a three-hour journey with a 15-minute stopover at a restored 1912 train station.

“Whodunit” western mystery rides, as well as special holiday rides on Mother’s Day, Father’s Day and Independence Day are also some of the most popular. Children enjoy the Magic Flyer, the Princess Flyer and the North Pole Flyer during the Christmas season, and fall riders enjoy special wine tour rides and an adult Halloween “Whodunit” mystery ride.