Travel Guide PA: Strasburg is a Train Lover’s Paradise

A shot from our May visit to the Strasburg Railroad, aboard the parlor car. Pictured: the remnants of a Fuzzy Navel, Jack Daniels on the rocks, and a cheese & fruit plate.
A shot from our May visit to the Strasburg Railroad, aboard the parlor car. Pictured: the remnants of a Fuzzy Navel, Jack Daniels on the rocks, and a cheese & fruit plate.

Any chance you get to have a drink aboard a hundred-plus year old rail car, you have to take it. The modicum that Strasburg and it’s many train-based attractions are only appealing to families or those who have small children is a false one. Anyone can have fun here. While I am not a “Rail Fan” (as they are called) and wasn’t exactly blown away by everything, it still was a highly enjoyable experience. Will and I went in the spring. I just wanted to ride the train, something I had not done since I was a child. When I found out they have a parlor car that serves drinks and snacks, I was sold. It was a weekday in May, so there was hardly anyone there. Maybe three or four people in the car with us. I had a Jack Daniel’s on the rocks while he had a Fuzzy Navel.

Inside the Parlor Car.
Inside the Parlor Car.

Between the two tickets, drinks, and snacks, it quickly added up, but it’s worth to do once as an adult. The parlor car was beautifully restored from the 1800’s. It was the luxurious way to travel back then. So it appealed to the historian in me as well. The ride itself was around 45 minutes, and is narrated. Though I hadn’t been on it in probably 15 years, it sounded familiar. Probably the same script. It’s not terribly exciting as an adult to sit there, but still is a nice way to relax especially if you are a vacationer constantly on the go like we are. They also have themed nights during the year, a dinner car, and even had an Absinthe tasting this past October which I unfortunately was unable to attend.

If you do have children, the Thomas the Tank Engine store will be a wonderland for them. Right down the road from the railroad is Traintown USA and the Choo-Choo Barn, much more aimed at children but they do get a fair amount of adults. If you don’t want to break the bank, or riding the train isn’t for you, you can still browse around the grounds of the railroad for free, seeing all the old train cars. There is also the Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania, which I also visited as a child but barely remember any of it.

The "rooms" of the Red Caboose Motel.
The “rooms” of the Red Caboose Motel.

Lastly, we haveĀ the Red Caboose, a train-themed motel and restaurant. The rooms themselves are restored cabooses. I never stayed here, and was actually kind of skeeved out when we took a look inside one years ago. They used to have a sample car that you would pay 50 cents or a quarter to walk in and see the kind of room you were getting. The outside was rusting away, and the inside was not much better. This time around, the grounds looked much cleaner and I was told the restaurant (an actual dining car) had new owners, a new chef, and new menu. It’s a shame to drive around seeing the place look dilapidated. You would think they would have a gold mine. Rail Fans would probably travel across the country for this experience, and it is a destination in itself. If there was a place with potential who needed Anthony Melchiorri of Hotel Impossible, this was it. I wish them luck in the future and hope they can turn it around. It’s worth looking into if you’re traveling there.

t3

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