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Discover the Joy of

the Strasburg Railroad

Discover the Joy of the Strasburg Railroad

A Must-Visit Lancaster Attraction

Charming attractions dominate the Lancaster area, which is known for its heartwarming atmosphere and its abundance of whimsy. Visiting often feels like stepping into a time capsule, which reminds us that the traditions of yesteryear can still be relevant today. Nowhere is this more evident than at the Strasburg Railroad Museum, where train enthusiasts and casual riders alike gather to celebrate the great tradition of railroads in America.

In addition to providing the top Lancaster PA train ride, the Strasburg Railroad is famous at the national and even international level. When you picture the concept of a tourist-oriented, heritage-style railway, Strasburg is almost certainly what comes to mind. It has set the stage for historic railways all around the country to thrive.

Visiting this iconic railroad can be a wonderful part of any Lancaster vacation, but it definitely takes planning. In addition to keeping your eye on the ever-changing Strasburg Railroad schedule, you'll need to determine which types of tickets fall within your budget and who, exactly, will find each type of ride appealing. To help, we've compiled all the essential details on Strasburg Railroad ticket prices, special events, seating, and more.

History of the Strasburg Railroad

As North America's oldest continuously operating railroad, the Strasburg Railroad boasts a fascinating history, complete with twists and turns to match the actual railroad journey.

Construction of the original 82-mile line (known as the Philadelphia & Columbia Railroad) began in 1831. This line was expected to circumvent the thriving town of Strasburg, so it's no wonder the residents of the time were concerned. As such, a charter was granted to enable an official connection between Strasburg and the larger railroad.

By 1851, the railroad was carrying freight and passengers to what is now known as the Pennsylvania Railroad junction. The railroad operated successfully for over a century, although its rails began to fall into a clear state of neglect. By the late 1950s, several train enthusiasts had gathered to discuss plans for keeping "the Methuselah of railroads" alive. Following an extensive repair effort, the railroad was reborn and rebranded as a tourist attraction.

The railroad's first steam locomotive was purchased in 1960. Since then, it has achieved a stellar reputation for its steam restoration and refurbishment efforts. These days, annual ridership exceeds an astounding 300,000 passengers, making the Strasburg Railroad the most visited tourist railroad in the 48 states.

How to Book Your Tickets Online

Given the enduring popularity of the Strasburg Railroad, it's easy to see why rides are so frequently booked far in advance. The easiest way to score a ticket is to book online through the official Strasburg Railroad website.

If you're only in Lancaster for a short time, you'll almost certainly book a single ticket. Keep in mind, however, that annual passes are available for regular riders. This option provides unlimited rides at coach class, plus the opportunity to upgrade to other cars for a reasonable rate. There are also several seasonal passes, providing dozens of rides in spring, summer, or fall.

If you'd like a sneak peek of the Strasburg experience before you book your tickets, you're in luck: the Strasburg Railroad webcam provides live footage from multiple perspectives. You can also get a unique glimpse of the journey via Google Street View.

As you book your trip, take a close look at the vast range of seats and events. Take advantage of the website's all-encompassing calendar, which allows you to browse by date. This calendar includes options for every type of car (premium, dining, and general, for example), listed at various hours throughout the day.

Dining Aboard the Train

Riding the train is fun on its own, but the experience takes a definite step up if you add delicious snacks or meals to the picture. Therein lies the appeal of reserving your tickets for the dining car, where you can both eat and relax as you enjoy the comfort of air conditioning.

When booking online, you'll select not only your desire to eat in the dining car, but also, the specific meal you'll enjoy. These change often, but possible options include meatball subs, veggie wraps, and chicken tacos.

This is by no means the only way to dine aboard the train. If you book a ride during a special event (such as the brunch edition of the Santa Paradise Express), your meal may be included with the price of your ticket.

For an especially sophisticated experience, you can also opt for the Elegant Express. Available during select weekends, this involves a meal prepared by Café 1832, as well as complimentary wine. Favorites from the Elegant Express menu include lobster ravioli and vegetable lasagna. Café 1832 meals can also be purchased along the railroad platform.

If you prefer to eat before or after your railroad adventure, you'll be thrilled to find a variety of great restaurants near your train ride. Nearby options include Agapē Cafe & Grill, Katie's Kitchen, and Bespoke Brewing. Better yet, stay in a nearby hotel or resort with onsite dining options, so you have somewhere convenient to relax after your railroad experience comes to an end.

Special Events

While 'regular' rides on the Strasburg Railroad are always a delight, there are also many special events worth taking into account as you plan your Lancaster vacation. Many are seasonal, while others are specifically designed for either young children or adults. Favorites include:

  • Day Out With Thomas. Join Thomas and his friends on a family-friendly adventure that is sure to please both kids and kids at heart. Held on select dates during the summer and in the early fall, this notoriously popular expedition involves a 45-minute ride with a fully operational version of Thomas the Tank Engine.

  • Legacy of Sleepy Hollow. Featuring a professional cast, this spooky performance immerses you in the story of Ichabod Crane's great-great-granddaughter. Stop by in October for a pre-boarding act, followed by an eerie ride that you'll never forget.

  • Murder Mystery. Limited seating is available for this decidedly intimate show, in which a small cast of professionals brings the tale of Detective Cecil B. Holden from Scotland Yard to life. Alcoholic beverages and small bites amp up this already amazing experience.

  • Le Train Cabaret. If you're on the hunt for live music in the Lancaster area, look no further than Le Train Cabaret. This exposes you to the most talented artists in the region — aboard a train!

  • Wine & Cheese. Hit up first class for a luxurious experience that includes carefully selected wines from Waltz Vineyards, as well as delicious cheese for pairing.

The Strasburg Railroad also marks Easter and Christmas with special trains that are sure to delight younger visitors. Depending on when you visit, you might be able to take a ride with Santa or the Easter Bunny.

Railroad Tours

If you want to learn even more about the Strasburg Railroad, consider booking one of its unique tours. The mechanical shop tour is a wonderful option if you'd like to learn how the Strasburg team refurbishes trains. Limited to visitors ages 5 and up, these tours are typically held on the weekends. A variety of railroad and industrial hazards may be present, so closed-toe shoes are required.

The available hostling tour is even more compelling. Detailing the process of handling a locomotive between runs is limited to just ten visitors. This unique experience begins at 8 am most days and lasts a full two hours. Call the railroad directly to score a spot on this popular tour.

Best of all: the railroad's in-cab experiences, which place you in the fireman's seat, the jump seat, or even the engineer's seat. This is a wonderful Strasburg Railroad 475 experience that introduces you to the oldest locomotive at this particular railroad. In-cab experiences are also available for the Strasburg Railroad 90 — also known as the railroad's grande dame.

Shopping

No trip to the Strasburg Railroad is complete without a visit to the gift shop. Souvenirs abound in the general store and the toy store, both of which are worth checking out. Take your time and browse the hats, shirts, and, of course, railroad toys. If you're unable to shop in person, check out the online store.



Restrooms & Other Accommodations

A common concern among would-be passengers: how and when to use the restroom. This will largely depend on which type of trip you book. First-class cars always have restrooms on board, as do select coach cars. Open-air cars, however, lack these facilities. When in doubt, plan to arrive early and use the public restroom so you can actively enjoy the entirety of your trip.

Accessibility is another understandable concern. Unfortunately, the train does not meet standards from the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) due to its historic nature. A mobile lift is available, however, as are select accommodations that can be arranged in advance. Contact the business office for more information.


Hotels Near the Strasburg Railroad

As you plan the ultimate train expedition, don't forget to book the finest accommodations nearby. After all the excitement of riding the train, you might crave a little relaxation in an upscale hotel room or, better yet, by the pool. As we've mentioned, it also helps to have dining available onsite, as well as a fitness center, sauna, and other amenities.

The Eden Resort is a great option, as it's located a short drive from the Strasburg Railroad Museum — and also, close to many other top Lancaster attractions. Begin the perfect day of sightseeing with a leisurely morning in your beautifully decorated room, suite, or villa. After a restful night's sleep and a relaxed start to the day, you'll feel ready for the hustle and bustle of the railroad.


Book Your Strasburg Adventure

Take a ride on the Strasburg Railroad, where you'll travel through the Lancaster area aboard one of the nation's most iconic trains. Whether you plan a Strasburg Railroad Thomas experience, sample the finest wines, or simply hop aboard the coach car, you'll be glad you treated yourself to this unique experience.

Level up your Lancaster visit with a stay at the Eden Resort — the perfect place to kick back after a busy day on the railroad. Book your accommodations today or contact us to learn more.

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