There’s quite a track record for excursion trains in the Carolinas teaming up with children’s characters to broaden their appeal beyond train buffs. Thomas the Tank Engine makes annual stops at what are called “heritage railways” and December’s calendars are flush with events related to “The Polar Express.”
While Boone’s Tweetsie Railroad won’t begin its 2015 season until April 10 – the weekend after Easter – that holiday’s fanciful hare will be quite busy entertaining youngsters at three easy-drive railroad destinations.
At the N.C. Transportation Museum, just 50 minutes up I-85 in Spencer, The Easter Bunny Express will be staged this Saturday-Sunday and April 3-4. For this promotion – $14; $12 for 65 and older and for active military; $10 for ages 3-12; 2 and younger, free – you’ll get a 25-minute train ride around the grounds with the furry guy. Admission also include Easter Bunny-related temporary tattoos and craft activities behind the Gift Station.
April 4 – the day before Easter Sunday – the museum ups the ante with a noon Easter egg hunt announced by train whistle; egg-shaped containers around the museum grounds will be filled with stickers, candy and the like. It’s for those 10 and younger; they’ll be split into age divisions.
Both Saturdays, for $10 more (advance reservations necessary), there’s a 9 a.m. Breakfast with the Easter Bunny event.
More interested in railroading than rabbits? April 4 only, the historic Lehigh Valley No. 126 steam locomotive will pull a train of six colorful cabooses that will offer a unique “above the rails” view.
With general admission, you can opt for either the Easter Bunny Express or the Caboose Train. With a combo ticket – $20, $18 for seniors/military, $16 for kids – you can do both. Details/reservations: 704-636-2889; www.nctrans.org.
The S.C. Carolina Railroad Museum’s Rockton, Rion & Western Railroad, near Winnsboro, is staging the Easter Bunny Eggspress this Saturday and April 4. Both days, trains depart at 10 and 11 a.m., noon, and 2 and 3 p.m. The rides last approximately an hour; related activities at the depot or Greenbrier half-way point include face painting and story telling. The museum depot is 20 minutes north of Columbia, off I-77. Cost: $18.25 coach, $23.50 for open-air car. Seating is first-come; reservations suggested: 803-712-4135 or www.scrm.org.
At Bryson City, the Great Smoky Mountains Railroad is offering a an Easter Beagle run at 11 a.m. April 3 and April 4. Featured are Peanuts characters Snoopy, Lucy and Charlie Brown, plus Easter Bunnies. The train follows the Tuckaseegee River into Dillsboro; during a 11/2 to two-hour layover there, festivities include an Easter egg hunt, crafts, snacks, etc. Adult tickets range from $51 (coach or open-air gondola) to $66 (assigned-seating Crown Class) and $94 (first-class; meal included); $29-$54 for ages 2-12; free-$20 for infants. Reservations suggested: 800-872-4681 or www.gsmr.com.
Bordsen is the Observer’s travel editor.