Redwood Valley Railway
Tilden Regional Park
Grizzley Peak Blvd. and Lomas Cantadas Road
Orinda, CA 94563
The Redwood Valley Railway offers scenic 12-minute rides on a scaled-down steam-powered train around the Oakland Hills. At only three dollars a ride, this is a thoroughly enjoyable bit of old-fashioned entertainment at its best. While the ride is meant for kids, adults won’t be able to hide feeling like a kid again. Be sure to check out the facts and photos, along with the souvenirs at the train “depot.” Parking is free.
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Outback Express Adventure Train
Knowland Park at Oakland Zoo
9777 Golf Links Road
Oakland, CA 94605
Sit back and relax as the Outback Express Adventure Train at Oakland Zoo takes kids and adults on a tour of Wild Australia, featuring the emu and wallaroo exhibit located on 3.5 acres of lush grounds at the top of the zoo. This animal habitat, accessible by the Outback Express train, delivers a unique experience. Onboard is a specially trained group of drivers who are dedicated to enriching the little travelers and their families’ viewing and learning experience as they travel up close to the emus and wallaroos in a natural setting. Tickets are required for this ride.
699 Bellevue Ave.
Oakland, CA 94610
Children’s Fairyland has been an Oakland storybook theme park since 1950, with nearly 40 storybook sets, friendly animals, kid-sized rides and 10 acres of gardens. This is a special place geared toward children under eight, and its colorful Fairyland rides are gentle for even very young kids to enjoy. The Jolly Trolly takes children on a ride past Old West Junction and through a tunnel, but an adult must accompany them on this ride. Park admission is $8 for everyone but children under one are free. See the website for more information.
Walnut Creek Model Railway Society
2751 Buena Vista Ave.
Walnut Creek, CA 94597
Come “ride” the Diablo Valley Lines. The Walnut Creek Model Railway Society operates the Diablo Valley Lines (DLV) model railroad and can be seen at one of the Society’s pubic shows. According to its website, the DVL is the "most mountainous and one of the largest HO scale model railroads" in the country. If you are not familiar with HO model trains, just know that they are 1/87 the size of actual trains and 1/2 the size of O scale model trains (HO means “half O”). This model railroad is really something to see, as it consists of approximately 4.300 feet of hand-laid track on more than 175,000 separate ties and over 240 turnouts. The DVL has been featured in magazines and newspapers around the world, and various articles are on display at the shows. Showings are on specific Friday, Saturday and Sundays throughout the year. Check the website for additional information and for the WCMRS show calendar.
The Kids’ Train
Concord, CA 94521
Here is a perfect kid’s party addition that guarantees a fun experience. The company provides a slow – just 3 mph – extremely safe kids train ride, delivered right to your location. The colorful train accommodates 12 to 18 kids or adults and travels on most surfaces, although it works best on neighborhood streets. It is not for use on hills or in parks. The company will deliver the train where and when you want it. Also available are two bouncers: a small train-themed bouncer ($125 rental) or a large combo bouncer/climber/slide ($175 rental). See the website for photos and complete details.
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Melanie Graysmith is a writer, artist and educator based in San Francisco. She writes on adult education, art and lifestyle topics, and enjoys writing short stories and poetry. She is also a member of an independent filmmaking group. Her work can be found at Examiner.com.