Day trip adventures – The Everett Railroad: a step back in time

If you don’t know me, you probably don’t know that I am an admirer of all things vintage and old fashioned – charming little towns with Victorian homes and tree lined sidewalks, historical buildings with hundreds of years of stories to tell, and a vintage railroad that first brought commerce to a tiny American town almost 200 years ago.  I love it all and I love finding these little mementos that remind us about the simpler times.  So, when I recently saw a Facebook ad for a Pumpkin Patch Train ride in the outskirts of Altoona, I booked our tickets and started planning our day trip adventure on the Everett Railroad.

The Everett Railroad is located just outside of Altoona in the small town of Hollidaysburg, PA.  It is about 1.5 hrs from Pittsburgh so it makes for a perfect little day trip.  Although the name of the railroad had changed over the years, it was chartered in 1852.  In 1860, the growing community that surrounded the railroad became incorporated.  Over the years, the railroad helped to connect small towns across PA and brought jobs and commerce to these areas.  Fast forward to 2015, when the tourist railroad was reborn with their very first Pumpkin Patch Train ride on October 18th.

Since we had a large group, I was able to get the group discount on our tickets.  Tickets for the Pumpkin patch train ride included a round trip ride on the train, a pumpkin from the pumpkin patch with a little kit of stickers to decorate, and some apple cider and a cookie on the return to the station.  Just note that tickets may be reserved – but seats are not reserved – so if you have a large group, make sure you arrive early so you can sit together.  We didn’t have a problem and the trains didn’t seem overly crowded but I made sure we were there 30 minutes before departure.

The route is scenic as you meander through woods along a pretty creek passing houses on the way to the pumpkin patch.  Once at the patch, the kids all jumped out and started running around and having fun.  They had cute little decorations and hay bales perfect for snapping photos.  When we got back onto the train, they were handing out little sticker kits for the pumpkins (much less messy than carving).  We made our way back to the depot and enjoyed a nice little snack before heading to dinner.

I knew that Altoona was only about 10 minutes from a previous visit to the town for a soccer game, so I made reservations for the group at the local Olive Garden (my kid’s favorite!).  They were very accommodating to our large group and we had fast and great service.  I would recommend this location to others – just be sure to book or call ahead or get there early as most Olive Garden’s do get busy around dinner time.

If you do want to check out some closer restaurants to the train depot, the town of Hollidaysburg has some good offerings.  Try the U.S. Hotel Tavern right down the street for great food in a historic setting, or if you are looking for the best breakfast in town, check out the Allegheny Creamery and Crepes for some delicious food and libations.

The Pumpkin Patch train goes through October, but don’t fret if you missed out.  The Santa train starts in November and goes through December.  You can view their monthly schedule here and download a brochure for future events.  There are events all year including an Easter train and summer ice cream trains!

After a long but fun day, we headed home and enjoyed a peaceful ride as the little ones slept.  Even though the day had ended, the charm of our experience on the vintage railroad would linger much longer.  I would definitely recommend this easy day trip to all of my friends and family.  You will not be disappointed!



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