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Excursion Railroads

• Tweetsie Railroad, Blowing Rock: Locomotive makes 3-mile loop around mountain, May 2-Nov. 2. The 25-minute trip includes two stops during a show. ($30; $22 for kids; cost includes whole-park admission. 800-526-5740; www.tweetsie.com.

• N.C. Transportation Museum: At Historic Spencer Shops, Spencer. Train makes a 3-mile run, Saturday-Sunday April-May and Sept.-December, daily June-August. Standard ride: $7; $6 for kids/seniors. Numerous special events all year. 704- 636-2889; http://nctrans.org.

• Great Smoky Mountains Railroad: Dillsboro and Bryson City. Leaves from both towns, 20 miles apart in Western North Carolina. Various schedules and theme-trips; cost also varies with season ($35-$100; less for kids). 800-872-4681; www.gsmr.com.

• New Hope Valley Railway: Bonsal. At rolling-railroad museum, you ride the exhibits 8 miles round trip in Wake County countryside, first Sunday of the month, May-November; Saturday-Sunday first two weekends of December. ($9; $6 for kids.) 919- 362-5416; www.nhvry.org.

• Rockton Rion & Western Railroad: At S.C. Railroad Museum, Winnsboro, S.C. Museum's train takes 10-mile (one hour) ride, first and third Saturdays of the month, June 7-Oct. 18. $10-$15; $7-$15 for kids. 803-635-9893; www.scrm.org.

• Ghost Town in the Sky: Theme park, Maggie Valley. Double incline railroad (four cars) at Western-themed amusement park near Cherokee. Also scenic train does loop around grounds. Park admission (includes rides, etc.): $30, $22 for kids. Open Friday-Sunday May 2-18 and Sept. 5-Nov. 2; daily May 19-Nov. 1. 828-926-1140; www.ghosttowninthesky.com.

Mini rides for kids

South of the Border attraction on Interstate 95 at Dillon, S.C., operates miniature train. 800-845-6011; www.pedroland.com.

Santa's Land Fun Park & Zoo, Cherokee. Miniature train circles park. Ride round-trip or between the depots (one at each end of the grounds). Park open March 31-Nov. 4 daily; 9 a.m.-6 p.m. most days; Fridays-Saturdays Nov. 9-Dec. 2. Admission: $14.72 for age 2 and older. 828-497-9191.

John Blue Historic Site, 13040 X-Way Road, Laurinburg, has a miniature train that makes a 1.5-mile circle around the back of the historic site. Usually operates by appointment for groups (and for John Blue Cotton Festival, Oct. 11); cost varies. 910-276-7238.

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