As all of you hopefully know by now, this Sunday is Mother’s Day. And for those keeping track, Saturday just so happens to be National Train Day. So, in the spirit of the ever popular mashup, I k2bwos* and decided to celebrate both of these revered holidays at the same time, which go together like a delicious kimchi quesadilla.
Whether or not mom is a train geek, there’s plenty of Mother’s Day-friendly train activities you can do that will satisfy both your familial obligations as well as please your inner Casey Jones. Possibly the most well-known in the Bay Area is the Napa Valley Wine Train, a three-hour, 36-mile round-trip that runs from Napa to St. Helena and back and includes a vintage Pullman dining car and dome viewing car. The train has several mother’s day options, all of which include dining and wine aboard the train, while a few offer additional winery tours. It’s actually a nice time of year for a trip to Napa; the grape vines are sprouting and end-row flowers are in bloom.
Next stop would be the Western Railway Museum just outside Fairfield in Solano County. Though wine-free, a trip on their vintage streetcars and interurban electric trains is a step back in time to the Sacramento Northern Railway line as it was 100 years ago. The trips are short, 30 minutes, and run through a flat central valley landscape. But in late spring the valley is filled with blooming wildflowers from a shallow lake that dries up with the end of winter rains. It’s pretty, something especially moms could appreciate.
At the other end of the bay in Santa Cruz, the Roaring Camp Railroad has been taking tourists on its narrow gauge steam-engine train up to the big trees of Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park for 50 years. The route runs between the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk and the village of Felton just north of the state park on Hwy 9. It’s a scenic ride from through a bit of the Santa Cruz Mountains, and yes there’s a Mother’s Day special.
Besides these rail trips, you can find some interesting stations around the bay area, particularly along the Caltrain line, such as the San Jose Diridon station which was opened in 1935 and renovated in 1994. It’s a fine example of Italian Renaissance Revival style, designed by the same architect who did the magnificent Union Station in Los Angeles. But riding Caltrain with mom on a Sunday to check out train stations seems a bit tedious, though maybe that’s just me… I’m not crazy about kimchi quesadillas either.
*kill two birds with one stone