From starry-eyed little boys to adventure travelers the world over, trains have a universal appeal that seems to mesmerize us all. There’s just something nostalgic and exciting about a train ride. While many of the trains in the United States are now out of commission, we actually do have a few railroading options in Arkansas. Whether you’re looking for a true train journey or a holiday dinner adventure, you’re in luck! We’ve gathered the very best Arkansas train rides for you and your crew. All aboard!
Join us for a train ride at Arkansas Frontier!
Bring your little ones for a train ride at Arkansas Frontier! Along with all our other amazing pumpkin patch activities, we have an adorable red and green barrel train that makes for some cute holiday pictures! The train is rated for ages 2-5, and the kids love it. A ride on our farm train is fun for the kiddos, but it also gives you a chance to peruse the Morning Glory Gift Shop without the help of little fingers! We’re open every October!
Beloved Arkansas Train Rides
In this guide, we’ll cover three different types of train rides in Arkansas. The first two are passenger trains that offer a variety of excursions. Then, we’ll cover the best Christmas train in Arkansas. Finally, we’ve chosen some of the best amusement train excursions for kids across the state. Here we go!
1. The Arkansas-Missouri Railroad
By far and away, the most iconic excursion train network in the Natural State is the Arkansas-Missouri Railroad. The beloved Arkansas train consists of a series of adorable carriages and offers several different trips. Coach 105 and 106 are vintage 1920s train cars with velvet bench seating and traditional details. Car 107 and 109 are premium cars with upgraded food options. Car 108 is known as the Silver Feather Dome. It features a glass roof and sides with comfy modern seating. Let’s take a closer look at the excursion options that the Arkansas-Missouri Railroad offers.
Springdale to Van Buren
The railroad offers round-trip tourist rides from the Northwest Arkansas town of Springdale to Historic Downtown Van Buren, in the Arkansas River Valley. The Van Buren trip treats you to the ruggedly beautiful Boston Mountains, a tunnel adventure, and the adorable town of Van Buren. The 8-hour, roundtrip excursion covers 134 miles and includes a 3-hour layover to explore the historic downtown buildings of Van Buren. Fall rates range from $40-$111, depending on your choice of vintage coach, premium coach, or the Feather Dome.
Van Buren to Winslow
The Van Buren to Winslow train ride through the scenic Ozarks includes a fun pass through the long Winslow Tunnel — a whopping 1700 feet long, in fact! The round trip excursion lasts just three hours and includes several valley trestles.
Click HERE for details.
Springdale to Winslow
The last scenic train ride starts in Springdale, skipping Van Buren, and goes to Winslow. You get the same mountain views and the same tunnel fun, but it’s a shorter journey. This might work better for little ones with nap times!
Click HERE for details.
2. The Eureka Springs & North Arkansas Railway
Travel back in time to the 1940s with a ride on a diesel locomotive! The Eureka Springs tourist locomotive offers an Excursion Train and a 1920s dining car for lunch and dinner rides. The season runs from April to October.
The excursion train ride is narrated by a fun conductor and includes snacks and drinks. It covers 4.5 miles and takes about an hour.
The lunch train follows the same route but includes a hot entree, beverage, freshly baked rolls, and dessert. It generally takes 1.5 hours. It leaves the depot at 12 p.m. from May to October.
The dinner train rolls out at 5 p.m. and spans two hours. It includes a large menu selection with wine and champagne available. This one makes for a great kid-free date night option!
Arkansas Holiday Train
3. The Holiday Express Pajama Train
Meet Santa on the Holiday Express Train hosted by the American-Missouri Railroad. There are two round-trip routes: Van Buren to Rudy and Springdale to Johnson. The 45-minute ride includes Christmas games, visits with Santa, hot cocoa, and cookies! It runs throughout the month of December at varying times. Check their calendar for specific dates and times.
Arkansas Amusement Trains
4. Creekmore Express Train
For pretty much all Fort Smith residents, the Creekmore Park Express Train is a cherished childhood memory. The train has been running for decades, and it’s still providing free rides to parkgoers today. Creekmore is located in Downtown Fort Smith, across from the public library on a large shaded lot, making for a beautiful little ride. The park actually has three engines, a steam engine, a diesel engine, and an electric steam engine that rotate. Unlike most amusement trains, the Creekmore carriages are large enough for adults to tag along!
During the holiday season, Creekmore transforms into a wonderland of animated characters and light displays. The train runs at night from 5:30 to 8:30 during the Christmas season. All Creekmore trains are free to ride!
5. Little Rock Zoo Diamond Express
Explore the Little Rock Zoo on the adorable Diamond Express. The train runs from 10-4, weather permitting. It costs $3 per person, which I’ll gladly pay when it stops the whining that often accompanies long walks. The train is not only handy. It’s really cute and makes for great photos! Children under 13 must be accompanied by an adult.
6. All Aboard Restaurant and Grill
If you have a train lover in your family, then a visit to the All Aboard is a must! Not only are your cheeseburger and fries delivered by a locomotive, but there are trains everywhere! On special occasions, like National Train Day, they even have real train rides around the parking lot!
7. Dickey Stephens Park Kid’s Train
Baseball games can be long and brutal for little kids. Take a break for a hot dog and ride on the Kid’s Train during your next visit to Dickey Stephens. Home to the minor league team, the Arkansas Travelers, Dickey Stephens Park is located in North Little Rock. Due to the long railroad heritage of the city, the whole stadium is actually built with a railway theme, so it’s a fun excursion for any train-loving family!
8. Rock Region METRO Street Car
Now, let’s head to the capitol for a ride on a ridiculously cute trolley. The Rock Region METRO Streetcar runs for four miles through the heart of Little Rock and North Little Rock. You can explore North Little Rock’s historic Argenta District, hop off at the Clinton Presidential Library, fill your belly at one of the amazing restaurants in the River Market, or visit the headquarters of Heifer International. You’ll even cross the mighty Arkansas River at one point on the journey. The best part is that the vintage streetcars are free to ride!
All Aboard the Arkansas Trains!
We hope you found your next adventure on this guide to Arkansas train rides. Whether you’re a locomotive freak, yourself, or have a little one who loves choo choos, Arkansas has plenty of great options for riding the rails, and there’s no better time than now! Vintage trains provide a fun holiday activity, great family photos, and wholesome memories that your kids will cherish for a lifetime. So, get out there and explore the rails this season!
Looking for more fun fall activities? How about a family-friendly festival? Check out all the amazing fall festivities going on in the “Most Popular Fall Festival in Arkansas: From Pumpkins to Beans!”
The holiday break is a good time for an educational family field trip! Whether you’re a homeschooling parent or a traditional schooler who wants to inject some learning into their holiday break “Explore 45 Educational Field Trips for Homeschoolers” for some incredible learning opportunities!