Train rides, once a popular way to get from point A to point B, are now seen as a “vintage” mode of transportation. If you’re looking for scenic train rides in Ohio, you’re in luck! You can choose from themed trains, dinner trains, Polar Express trains, and sightseeing trains.
Trains were used for public transportation for much of the early 20th century. As personal automobiles became more common, trains became relegated to cargo loads or urban environments. Now, many railroads have restored their old passenger trains to serve as museums and some have taken it a step further to offer scenic excursions.
Scenic Train Rides in Ohio that you Must Experience!
Check out some of my favorite unique train rides in Ohio!
Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad
From Independence to Akron
The only train ride that goes through a National Park is also one of the most popular scenic train rides in Ohio. The Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad has taken over some of the train tracks that once ran from Cleveland to Canton.
Launched in 1991, this scenic train ride treats passengers to 3 ½ hours of beautiful scenery and a choice of first-class, coach class, or seats in the dome car. There are several packages you can purchase, including a special ticket for cyclists who ride the Rail Trail one way and take the train back.
The Cuyahoga Valley train ride runs Tuesdays through Sundays from June to October. If you are a murder mystery fan, then check out the Murder Mystery train ride. Other special excursions include Ales on Rales, Grape Escape, and Trivia on the Train.
If you’re looking for Fall train rides in Ohio that offer gorgeous views, this is your place to start.
Hocking Valley Scenic Railway
This one isn’t as scenic or as long of a ride in some in Ohio but if you’re a history buff, the Hocking Valley Scenic Railway is a must! This train ride runs every Saturday and Sunday in the summer, with extended operations in October for the very popular Fall Foliage rides.
Hop on a historic rail car staffed exclusively by volunteers and enjoy the beautiful rolling hills of Ohio’s Hocking Valley. From Nelsonville to East Logan, the train journey is two hours round-trip; you can bring your own soft drinks and snacks on board.
Other excursions include dinner trains, an Easter Bunny Train, a train robbery, a Santa Claus train, and many more!
Cincinnati Dinner Train
For Ohio train rides with dinner, the Cincinnati Dinner Train seems to be the most popular. Enjoy fine dining aboard three restored 1950s-era dining cars.
The three-hour train ride includes a delicious four-course meal, with additional beer, wine, and cocktails available for purchase. In addition to the dining cars, there’s also the Oasis Tavern car, with a full cash bar and live music.
The Dinner Train runs every Saturday evening from Mid-March through December and is one of the most romantic train rides in Ohio.
Lebanon Mason Monroe Railroad
If you are traveling between Dayton and Cincinnati, this Lebanon Ohio train ride is worth your time. Take a ride in restored passenger cars pulled by a vintage diesel locomotive.
Operated by the Cincinnati Scenic Railway, tours are offered most weekends throughout the year, and on selected weekdays. Check out the fun-themed rides like the North Pole Express, the Easter Bunny Express, or the Wine and Cheese Train. If you have kids, they will love rides like Clifford the Big Red Dog or Thomas the Tank Engine.
Zanesville and Western Scenic Railroad
This Central Ohio scenic railroad offers tours along a historic line known as the Glass Rock Spur. The 40-minute ride follows Jonathan Creek, and affordable tickets make this a reasonable outing, even if you have a large family.
Train rides run on the hour from 12-4 on weekends, with special outings that include a train robbery mystery, a pumpkin train, and a Santa train.
Lorain & West Virginia Railway
Following the Lorain & West Virginia rail line, this Ohio train ride features 1950s Pullman coach cars and an open-air gondola car for the best views along the way.
While the train does not have a regularly scheduled service, they do run several special events and tours each year. These include the Easter Train, Fall Foliage, Pumpkin Train, and the Santa trains.
Dennison Railroad Depot Museum
While the museum is one of the top train attractions in Ohio, this is also where you’ll find a fantastic Ohio Christmas train ride. This former depot is mostly a museum dedicated to the railroad, but at Christmastime, they do offer a Polar Express trip.
With live reenactments of “The Polar Express” book, families are entertained during the journey to the North Pole, where Santa Claus himself joins the excursion back to the depot. This special event is only offered on weekends in December, so be sure to book well in advance!
North Pole Express
Another great Ohio polar express train ride is the North Pole Express in Findlay. Hop aboard quarter-scale train cars as they wind through a magical world of Christmas lights and decorations. The museum and train barn also have toy trains running throughout, and Mr. and Mrs. Claus are often spotted visiting the barn.
This special event is offered on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays from the end of November through early January. Don’t forget to bundle up, as you’ll be getting lots of fresh air on this Ohio train trip!
Looking for more to do in Ohio? Check out these ideas: