There are certain themes all children adore:
Dinosaurs, Farm animals, Fire trucks and Trains
My personal favorite has become the trains. East Texas trains are truly unique. They shaped the area’s history and are easily accessible to create magical experiences for our children. An outing becomes a day to slow down and connect during a digital bombardment society.
Here’s my breakdown on creating a truly magical and CHEAP day for fellow nostalgic hearts!
We rode the Texas Eagle 21 departing Longview to Mineola. A babysitter picked us up at the Mineola depot. Which coincidentally serves as a TRAIN MUSEUM! Check the schedule to ride the Iron Horse, a mini train. Seriously, can it get any better?! No friends. It cannot. Because the seats on the train are BIGGER than airplane seats! And they recline. Yes.
Amtrak and the National Parks service offer the Trails and Rails program. Texas Eagle 21 is a participating route. So cool! You can read up on the history, heritage and even download a podcast to accompany the ride. Geek out.
Fair warning, we did experience delays. There is a train-themed playground at the Longview station that our children LOVED. They enjoyed snacks right by the tracks enjoying the passing trains. Mineola also has a train-themed playground and convenient, delicious restaurants within walking distance. We had no schedule for the day except to ride the train, watch trains and be with our people so the delays did not impact us. However, if you are on a time schedule, this could potentially be an issue.
Let’s be honest… sometimes it would be easier to light money on fire rather than pay for activities. There, I said it. But a flexible attitude and $30 got me 2 adult tickets and 4 child tickets for an hour-long, one way train ride. Cheaper than the movies or literally ANYTHING else. Pack your own picnic and enjoy the experience!