The Train Town Railroad
in Sonoma 

The Sonoma Train Town Railroad has developed into a charming theme park for younger kids and their parents.

This is a great place to bring the little ones for train-themed rides and low-key fun. The 10-acre setting is wooded, with plenty of shade, and lots of water features like ponds, waterfalls, and streams. 

Ferris wheel and lake at Train Town SonomaThe Train Town Ferris Wheel

The whole park had a relaxed, friendly feel. The staff members were pleasant and helpful, and the grounds were clean and attractive.

It's still a family-run business and it has that personal vibe. Super place to spend a couple of hours with the kids!

Main attraction: the miniature train and it's trip though the grounds is the star of park, but there are other rides tucked here and there that are fun as well.

The additional rides (all train-themed):

  • Iron Horse Carousel
  • Train Town Airlines: cute biplanes (kids only)
  • High Iron Ferris Wheel
  • Mine Train Rollercoaster
  • Locomotion Scrambler
  • Air Scooter

Who is Train Town best for? I would say ages 2 through 9 would enjoy it the most. The rides are pretty mild and there aren't any "scary" attractions. 

Older kids and teens might be a little bored, but the train ride and the western town might appeal to them. I enjoyed it, and my 25-year-old son (who graciously agreed to go with me) had a good time, too!


Train Town History

The train and all the landscaping were the creation of one man, Stanley Frank. He owned a printing business in Oakland and had a passion for  trains. Stanley started out in the 1950's with a model train set up in his basement, then ended up with a 10 acre park and a working, scale-model steam train.

He not only planned the park, he personally built the train cars and the first two engines, and did a lot of the scenery construction himself as well. 

Train Town opened in 1968, but Stanley died unexpectedly in 1977; his family has carried on his work and added many more features over the years. The family still owns and runs the park.

The trains and all the buildings you see on the 20 minute ride are built to one-quarter scale and are designed to give the feel of the railroad lines and buildings of the Gold Rush era, up in the Sierra foothills.

Model hotel on ride at Train TownScale Model Hotel

Riding the Model Train

The train is a one-quarter-size scale model of a real steam train and pulls  6 cars around the 15-gauge track (15 inches wide).

The train ride leaves from the little station that's right at the entrance to the park. You buy your ticket for the train at the snack bar nearby ($6.75 per person).

Model train in the station at Train Town in SonomaIn the Station...All Aboard!

The ride lasts about 20 minutes, so there's never a long wait.

The track loops around the park three times, going through forests, over wooden trestles and steel bridges, through tunnels and past waterfalls and lakes. Very well done!

Train ride through the woods at Train Town in Sonoma

It really feels like a trip through the back country. They've done a great job of furnishing it with scale model buildings like hotels, houses and water mills, plus an entire little western town, "Lakeview".

View of western village across lake, Train TownView of "Lakeview", the Old West Town

 

In addition to the waterfalls, they've created running streams throughout the park, like the one that turns the old mill's water wheel. Pretty cool. It's fun to just wander around and see all the scale model buildings and other features.


The Western Town: Lakeview

This is the best part of park, in my opinion. On your last loop through the park, the train pulls into a little town, with two rows of Old-West-style buildings on each side of the track.

Model western town of Lakeview, at Train Town in SonomaExploring the Town of Lakeview

You get about 10 minutes to explore the town. The buildings are open, and furnished as they would have been at the time. They're scaled down to match the train, but adults can walk through the doors with a little stooping.

Rear of buildings in Lakeview western town, Sonoma Train TownRear View of the Town

They're not just false fronts like a movie set; you can walk around the back, too.

Check out the school, church, jail, saloon and the rest of the buildings (including an outhouse), plus an old fort around the corner that kids can climb on.

Model schoolhouse in the town of Lakeview, Train Town SonomaThe Schoolhouse

The Petting Zoo

The town of Lakeview has a little petting zoo, as well. Not a big collection of animals, but several very friendly goats and a couple of llamas are eagerly awaiting some snacks.

Goats and llamas at Train Town petting zooWaiting for you at Lakeview

Tip: bring some quarters if you'd like to feed the animals. They have some vending machines with animal feed there.


The Roundhouse

The original two locomotives built by Stanley Frank have been joined by many more and they live in an authentic scale model of a working roundhouse, which is interesting to see.

Roundhouse with scale model engines, Train TownThe rest of the Train Town locomotives.

More Train Town Attractions...

The park has six rides in addition to the railroad ride. Adults can ride all of them except for the biplanes on the Train Town Airlines.

The tickets for each ride are $2.75 per person (or six for $14.75).

The tickets are sold at the snack bar near the entrance.

Train Town also has a row of vintage rail cars lined up near the entrance for visitors to climb around on.

Iron Horse Carousel

Iron Horse Carousel at Train Town in Sonoma

Train Town Airlines

Airplane ride at Train Town in Sonoma

Locomotion Scrambler

Mine Train Coaster

Locomotion Scrambler ride at Train Town

Air Scooter

Air Scooter ride at Train Town in Sonoma

High Iron Ferris Wheel

Ferris wheel at TrainTown in Sonoma



Hours

Summer:  open every day from 10 am to 5 pm.

All attractions open.

Fall, winter and spring: Friday, Sat, & Sun: 10 am to 5 pm.

Fridays: train, carousel and airplanes only.

Sat & Sun: all attractions open.

Closed when raining.


Tickets

Entry is to the park is free and you buy tickets for the individual attractions.

Train ride: $6.75 per person

Other rides: $2.75 per person (or 6 for $14.75)


Snacks and Drinks

There's a little snack bar with tables and chairs near the entrance, plus a gift shop with train-related souvenirs and knick-knacks.

They've got things like burgers, hot dogs, nachos and chips, plus ice cream bars and soft drinks.


Getting to Train Town

The Train Town address is at 20264 Broadway (also called Highway 12), Sonoma.

The park is just one mile south of the town center of Sonoma on Highway 12, the highway that runs through the center of Sonoma past the town plaza.

1 707 938-3912.

www.traintown.com


Map showing the location of Train Town in Sonoma
Map data (c) OpenStreetMap contributors, CC-BY-SA

Coming into Sonoma on Highway 12, on the right side of the road you'll see the bright yellow Train Town tower at the entrance to the park.

Train Town Tower at entrance to parkDoesn't look very big from the outside.

There's a big parking lot in front of the entrance.


Sonoma is about an hour and twenty minutes north of San Francisco by car. Unfortunately, it's not very accessible via public transportation.

Bay area map showing location of Sonoma
Map data (c) OpenStreetMap contributors, CC-BY-SA

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