Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad

Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad travels through Ohio’s flourishing Cuyahoga Valley National Park. Train rides begin in Cleveland, located on the coast of Lake Erie, and ends in either Canton or Akron. It is the only train that offers Polar express rides in Ohio, which are extremely popular excursions during the Christmas season. The Cuyahoga Valley train offers both locals and visitors a variety of fun-filled trips that take an up-close look at great scenery and state history throughout the year.

The Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad features a signature trip into Cuyahoga Valley National Park that lasts about three hours. The train journey is just over 41 miles from start to finish and makes stops in both Rockside, which is in the city limits of Cleveland, and Peninsula. There are also train depots in Akron and Canton making a trip easily accessible from many parts of Ohio. To enjoy the scenic ride, passengers can depart from any of the four major depots and get off at any of the stops to explore the areas in more depth. Peninsula is particularly engaging. It is a small, artsy community with unique shopping opportunities, an art museum, and a handful of good dining options that equate into a relaxing few hours before getting back on the train.

An urbanized national park, Cuyahoga passes through many fairly developed areas interlaced with natural backdrops that feature some wild animals and abundant flora. The fully narrated audio tour relays the history of the railroad along with information about local wild animals and some of the towns and cities along the way. There are also several special train events to choose from, including the only Polar Express train rides in Ohio, which make great Christmas season things to do. There are also murder mystery events, a Wine Tasting Train Express, a Halloween Express, and Story Telling trips. Advanced reservations for special events are necessary as they are considered top things to for visitors and locals.

Not only is the Cuyahoga Valley train used for scenic trips along the railroad, it’s also a great mode of transportation to reach many of Ohio’s best attractions. Vintage cars whisk passengers off on both short and long train rides, beginning at almost two hours in length to all-day journeys. The Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad is a great way to get to many top sites in Akron such as Hale Farm, Ohio cruise terminals, the Akron Zoo, and Quaker Square.

For those traveling on to Canton, exploring the Canton Museum of Art (a great alternative to the Cleveland Museum of Art) and the Pro Football Hall of Fame are easily possible to add to itineraries. Anyone interest in Ohio biking trips can jump off a one-way trip to Canton and head back to the original departure point by bicycle. The Cuyahoga Valley Scenic railroad offers a program called Bike Aboard. It runs from April through to October. A one-way trip is a few dollars and the Cuyahoga Valley train can easily be flagged at every station. It’s best to arrive at least ten minutes before the train’s arrival.

The Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad is a great mode of transportation for sightseeing in the 33,000-acre Cuyahoga National Park. Inside the rail cars, large, comfortable seating, affordable onboard drinks and snacks, and clean, spacious restrooms are available. During the winter months, Cuyahoga is one of few rail routes offering Polar Express train rides in Ohio. The ride is conceived as a magical journey to the North Pole and features Christmas carols, hot chocolate, and a reading of the story. Polar Express train rides can also be enjoyed in December at Hocking Valley Scenic Railway, the Ohio Central Railroad, and Byesville Scenic Railway. Some of Ohio’s railroad museums also offer a Polar Express Christmas special that is held inside the museum and includes a stationary train “ride.”

Image: buschap (flickr)

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