Tweetsie Railroad, Blowing Rock. Locomotive makes 3-mile loop around the mountain at the heart of a Wild West theme park, Fridays-Sundays through May 27 and Aug. 23-Nov. 3; daily May 31-Aug. 18. The 25-minute trip includes stops within the grounds. ($37; $23 for kids; cost includes park admission.) Make reservations early for the fall Ghost Train Halloween Festival (evenings, Sept. 27-Nov. 2). Also make reservations for such kid-pleasing family events as Letterland (May 8-9, 15-16), Dora the Explorer and Diego (June 21-23), Day Out with Thomas the Tank Engine (May 31-June 9) and the July 4 fireworks (park stays open until 9 p.m.). ( www.tweetsie.com)
Great Smoky Mountains Railroad, Bryson City. Various schedules and themed trips; cost varies. Basic trips are $55-$94, less for kids. Views of Nantahala Gorge and Tuckaseegee River are spectacular. (Rates rise in leaf-peeping season.) GSMR offers an amazing array of themed events and packages (including lodgings, rafting). Check out the runs that go to the amazing and invigorating Nantahala Outdoor Center (the other route goes between Bryson City and Dillsboro). Make reservations early for the “Polar Express” rides offered in November and December. ( www.gsmr.com)
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