Over 2 years ago my best friend and I set off to go on a train trip to celebrate the twin's anniversary. It was a total bust. I still wanted desperately to take the children on a quick train trip. Today we made another go at it.
I looked at the dozens of stops all over Southern California, looking at minute maps and trying to figure out where would be the best stop that would allow us plenty of activities that were within walking distance. We ended up choosing Camarillo, CA. It would allow us about an hour on the train (going through several tunnels and right next to the airport).
I was able to easily purchase the tickets online at www.amtrak.com. Glendale has a metrolink ticket station that automatically prints out the tickets for you. I was pleased to see that because it saved me $15 in shipping fees.
We arrived early to print our tickets and ensure we didn't miss the train. Just as we were getting ready to get on the platform a freight train came roaring through the station. There is no more appropriate word than 'roaring'. I could feel the vibrations in my chest and felt like a child myself as I heard the whooo whoooing of the horn. It was amazing. But short lived as I realized Alexander was visibly shaking out of fear and William was trying to hide behind the stroller. It all backfired as our much quieter passenger train arrived. William only saw similarities between the two trains and I had to literally drag him kicking and screaming onto the train. 30 minutes into the train he would still cry if I wasn't physically touching him. *sigh* I always feel like such a horrible mother because I force him to do things he is obviously scared of, but at the end of the day he only remembers what a great time he had on our newest adventure.
We departed from Glendale, CA and traveled north on the Pacific Surfliner line. There were stops about every 15 minutes as we headed north which kept the children from getting too bored. Fortunately, my mom partner in crime, P, had the foresight to bring crayons. The kids stayed busy with snacks and coloring. They mostly switched seats and ooohed and aaahed out the window.
We arrived in Camarillo about 30 minutes later than planned. The train platform is in the middle of a quaint town. Its a really nice area. We walked the 4 blocks to Dizdar Park (be aware there are no bathroom facilities at this park, either use the train before departure or stop in at one of the many storefronts along the way). This park was very nice, with lots of shade and a nice play structure for the kids. Alexander crawled around in the sand, while the boys dug in the dirt in the hopes of digging so deep that the 60 foot tree would fall over.
For lunch we walked a few more blocks down Ventura Boulevard to Olas Mex Grill. It was very yummy and the perfect family environment for a group of 2 moms, 6 kids and 2 strollers. There were many restaurants along the way including Bandits Grill and a Mongolian BBQ. I also noticed quite a few restaurants across the 101 freeway as well, so there was lots to choose from.
We managed to get back to the train platform on time. The train was on time too - an extra bonus! The train stewards were the same ones who rode up with us and they were happy to listen to our stories of travel and how our day turned out. They were also very helpful and accommodating in getting the strollers on and off the train and even the children. One of the men even remarked that he was happy to see that William seemed to be enjoying the trip a lot more as we headed southbound.
I would highly recommend this as a day trip for the preschool-group who loves trains so much. We had a really great time and I would say it is far less taxing than a trip to Disneyland.
[caption id="attachment_397" align="alignnone" width="306" caption="In front of the train in Camarillo"][/caption]
[caption id="attachment_399" align="alignnone" width="360" caption="William is still a bit apprehensive"][/caption]
[caption id="attachment_400" align="alignnone" width="360" caption="Enjoying the tunnels"][/caption]
[caption id="attachment_403" align="alignnone" width="270" caption="William zonked out on the way back. Who can blame him, he walked about 20 blocks and played hard at the park."][/caption]
[caption id="attachment_404" align="alignnone" width="360" caption="Alexander spent his time \'reading\' on the floor or walking (not cruising) back and forth between the seats."][/caption]