We’ve had the grandparents visiting for a few days so we were looking for some good wholesome family fun that didn’t involve too much sun. As our usual activities of hiking and the beach weren’t really a great choice for our guests, it was the perfect excuse to check out one of the paid for attractions. There was a lot of umming and aahing on where to go at the weekend and then we came across Roaring Camp Railroads in Felton. I may have a not so secret love of trains and Grandpa is also a bit of a train aficionado, so it seemed like a perfect day out for us. They have two options – a beach train that runs down from Felton to Santa Cruz Boardwalk, where you can then enjoy all the fun of the fair before catching a train back up again and the Redwood Forest Steam Train. As we were attempting to avoid some of the summer heat the Redwood train was the choice for us.
The Redwood Forest Steam Train is a 75min round trip through some beautiful Redwood forests with some amazing commentary on the history of Roaring Camp, logging and steam trains. I don’t want to ruin the experience for you by telling you all that I learned on the train, but I will let you know that it was just the right amount of commentary, nothing too technical or long winded but also nothing too fluffy. They even explained the whistle signals which helped with knowing when to take photos lol. I’m not sure Poppy, who is 5 ¾ (the ¾ is very important), noticed the commentary as it’s not really aimed at children, but she was still very happy and entertained for the full 75 mins, in fact I don’t think I have ever seen her sit down for that long before.
The route takes you through the forest up to the summit of Bear Mountain, where you can get off and stretch your legs, have a bit of a nosey at some rather large trees and/or the train itself, or more likely take family photos for Instagram in front of the train. Sam and his dad thoroughly enjoyed taking some pics of the gears and other train parts, can’t wait for the slide show of those pics! On the way up there, you get to do some zig-zagging to get up the mountain and there are some real will we make it moments to enjoy. Not to mention being on a steam train through a 2,000 year old Redwood Forest, it’s just magical, choo choo!
When you get back from your trip you may very well see the sheriff on his horse to greet you and you can check out Roaring Camp itself, which has been done out like an old traditional logging town. There’s a general store (the gift shop), a candy store, some traditional kids’ games, a little museum, face painting and a few other bits and pieces. They didn’t really mention it on the website but there’s also Georgie's Cook House to get food – burgers, pizzas, hot dogs etc as well as a bbq place. If you want to take your own and have a picnic there seems to be plenty of spots to do that too.
We headed into Felton itself for lunch as I may have seen a rather tempting Mexican place on the way in and I can’t really resist Mexican food, quesadillas are always a winning choice with Poppy. It also seemed a good excuse to check out the cute little town and see how it compared to Boulder Creek. Lunch at Taqueria Vallarta was just as good as I’d hoped it would be and Felton was a lovely town. We checked out the cute supermarket – Wild Roots which was a bit of a squeeze with the push chair, saw some live music playing outside one of the cafés, bought Poppy a hand painted flag from an artist who told us all about the upcoming Pescadero Arts & Fun Festival and managed to avoid accidentally buying a gorgeous $279 hand embroidered handbag (hmm wonder if that’s still there…).
After Felton, we went to Boulder Creek with the intention of having a wander round and an ice cream but it was far too hot for much of a wander, so we went straight for ice cream which wasn’t really the best idea. The place we went to wasn’t air conditioned, so the over sized chocolate dipped ice creams were melting everywhere, causing a recently dairy free me to giggle smugly into my coke. Karma got me though and Kenna pooped all over the place and there were no changing tables so I had to try and deal with it on the floor outside in front of a group of bikers. You win some, you lose some! Probably won’t be heading there again!
It was an absolutely brilliant day out, and we can’t wait to go back to Roaring Camp to check out the Santa Cruz Beach Train next time, although having been to the Boardwalk before, I feel like this experience may need a large bank loan. The trip we did was $29 per adult, $23 for Poppy and Kenna was free. Parking was an additional $10. For the Beach Train the tickets are little more expensive at $31 for 13+, $26 for 2-13 and free for under 2’s, and be aware the Boardwalk can get quite pricey too if you want to do all the rides etc but they do have off season pricing in the winter time or you could just head to the beach and bypass the Boardwalk altogether.
Here’s some handy links for you to plan your own trip:
- Roaring Camp Railroads
- Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk
- Taqueria Vallarta
- Foster’s Freeze
- Nearby Hiking Trails
- Pescadero Arts & Fun Festival – on 18-19th August 2018
If you have any tips to add to this, please share in the comments, also, don’t be afraid to get in touch if you have any questions that you think we or other readers can help with. And, as always, if you do decide to go for yourselves, take pics and use #TheBayCollective so we can join in with your adventure.