Are you wondering if a trip to Tweetsie Railroad is right for your family? The Tweetsie Railroad theme park in North Carolina is full of nostalgic family fun. Elizabeth Faulkner shares her own Tweetsie Railroad experience so you’ll know what to expect when you visit, plus all the great mom tips you’ll want to know.
Media passes were provided for her visit to Tweetsie Railroad, however, all opinions shared in this post are her own.
Confession of a bad mom. My family has spent a lot of time in the North Carolina mountains; specifically, the Boone, North Carolina area. Lots of time. For years. And we’ve driven right by Tweetsie Railroad many times over the years. Since my oldest daughter, who is now 7, was able to speak she’s been begging me to take her to that ‘place with the ferris wheel’ that we pass on our way to the mountains. And I (the bad mom) had never taken my girls to Tweetsie Railroad. Until today.
If you don’t know Tweetsie Railroad, it is not exactly a new theme park. Nope. I have lots of friends who tell me about their childhood memories visiting Tweetsie – it’s been a theme park since the 1950s. Heck, it was the very first theme park in the state of North Carolina. But a theme park was not how Tweetsie Railroad began.
The history behind Tweetsie Railroad
Tweetsie began as a railway between Tennessee and North Carolina in the late 1800s. The extension into Boone, NC began in the early 1900s, as a passenger train as well as a method of moving lumber out of the mountains. The train was referred to as Tweetsie because of the “tweet tweet” whistle sound the train made that echoed through the hills. And the name stuck.
Many years later, road development bringing competition from automobiles, and later flooding in Boone, brought an end to the much adored Tweetsie Railroad. Though initially Tweetsie Locomotive No. 12, the only original of the 13 steam engines from the rail line, was moved to Virginia, No. 12 later returned to her home in Boone, NC and the Tweetsie Railroad that we know today began.
Though the history of Tweetsie Railroad is truly fascinating, the North Carolina mountain theme park has been loved by children for generations. If you’re a history buff you can read the Tweetsie Railroad history for yourself right here.
Today’s Tweetsie Railroad is a sweet theme park located in Blowing Rock, North Carolina. If you are like I was, unaware of all the fun hiding in those hills, you’re in for a real treat.
Our day at Tweetsie Railroad
Our first stop after entering the gates this morning was the train ride, of course. After all, I’ve never ridden a 100+ year old steam locomotive. Winding through the hills near the theme park this short train ride was complete with replica old mountain towns, cowboys, and even a shoot out. The train ride was so fun we did it again later that afternoon.
Once we got off the train we decided to take in a show – one of many shows featuring cowboys, can-can girls, magicians, musicians, dancers and more. Though there were lots of fun shows to see, this was the only one we made it to. The girls and I all loved it. I’d say their favorite part was the end of the show when they got to get up on stage and try a little can-can dancing of their own.
Then we were on to some rides. I think one of the great things about Tweetsie Railroad was that we didn’t run into even one ride my 7 and 3 year old were too little to ride (though there was one ride I was too big to ride!). Now, that said, we did not get to one portion of the park that included the bigger rides – the few I’m pretty sure my little ones wouldn’t be able (or brave enough) to ride. We’ll check that out next time.
After a yummy pizza lunch, we took the chair lift up to Miner’s Mountain, the little kid portion of the park. The chair ride up to Miner’s Mountain was an adventure all on its own. If you’ve been on a ski lift it’s the same idea. Beautiful views, and a little bit of praying no one wiggles along the way – it’s a long way to the ground. I thought for sure my husband would have us walking back down the mountain – he’s not a fan of heights – but we rode the chair lift back down the mountain too.
Honestly, once we got to Miner’s Mountain, we were running out of steam so after the girls played on the playground a little while we headed directly to Deer Park Zoo. Given that we’ve been to a bunch of zoos, I didn’t have very high expectations for this one but it may have been my favorite part of the day.
This animal park petting zoo includes about 90 animals that we got to be up close and personal with, including several kind of goats, deer, emus, llama, miniature horses and many more. Plus, we were able to buy ice cream cones filled with feed (for 50 cents each) before we walked in which made for a ton of fun. Think animals eating feed right out of your little ones hands – it just doesn’t get sweeter than that!
Though, personally, I really loved watching the animals when they finally got to their favorite snack – the ice cream cone. What a riot. I could’ve spent all afternoon in the sweet Deer Park but we did finally head out. It was way past nap time after all.
Though there were many rides we never got to ride and shows we didn’t see, we were all tired out after spending most of the day at Tweetsie Railroad so it was time for us to go home. All in all, it was a great first (though not last!) visit to Tweetsie Railroad.
Tweetsie Railroad Review
Truth be told, I’m not sure who had more fun, the kids or me. The park was small enough that is was easy to navigate and didn’t feel overwhelming, perfect for little ones, full of super friendly staff, and never felt crowded at all.
I also really appreciated that the tickets included everything – all the rides and shows, unlimited train rides, and the zoo. This old fashioned, family oriented theme park is a local and regional favorite and now I understand why. Like it is for so many others, Tweetsie Railroad will become a family tradition for my own family.
Tips for visiting Tweetsie Railroad
And now that we’ve finally made it to this tourist hot spot I have some tips for you when you go:
- The park opens at 10 am most days.
- If you do go early make sure the top parking lot is full before you park in the lots right inside the entry. You can save yourself a little extra walking to get inside the park.
- Yes, there is a mock robbery with “bad guys” but this doesn’t occur on the train itself. Rather you watch the show from the train. I was relieved that it wasn’t at all scary to my little ones.
- If you want the best view of the show from the train possible choose the 2nd, 3rd or 4th car and sit on the right side of the isle.
- Though I didn’t see this happen, I was told that kids can get embers from the train in their eyes. You may want to bring along some sunglasses for your kids to wear on the train ride.
- Walking can get tiring for little legs – bring a stroller or wagon. Plus you have somewhere to hold your drinks and purchases. Should you not have a stroller and need one there are several options available to rent. Rental rates are $10 per day and you can choose from single or double strollers or various wagons.
- Don’t feel like spending money on lunch? No problem – pack your own! You can bring your own food into Tweetsie, which can help a little with the budget.
- Take pictures! There are lots of beautiful photo opportunities at Tweetsie – after all, the mountains are the backdrop. Our family shot in front of No. 12 is going to be a perfect Christmas card this year!
Tweetsie Railroad is open for the 2023 season!
300 Tweetsie Railroad Lane*
Blowing Rock, NC 28605
*approximately 3hrs from Greenville!
June 19 – August 13, Thursday – Monday, 10 am-6 pm, See the entire schedule here.
Special Events for 2023
The 2023 season at Tweetsie Railroad is loaded with special events, including the ultra popular K9s in Flight Frisbee Dogs®, Riders in the Sky, Railroad Heritage Weekend, and more! See the entire list of special events here.
This year’s K9s in Flight Frisbee Dogs® event happens July 22-24 & July 27-30, 2023. These high-flying pups will amaze you with their flips and tricks! Shows are included with regular park admission.
If you enter the park after 3 pm, the next day is free! Keep your ticket stubs and present them at the Ticket Office for another full day of family fun.
If you are lucky enough to get to Tweetsie Railroad more than a couple times in a season you might want to consider a season pass.
Ready to buy your tickets?! Purchase general admission tickets here.
Where to Stay Near Tweetsie Railroad
Find the perfect place to stay near Tweetsie Railroad with the map below. Kidding Around earns when you book through the links in the map through as part of an affiliate relationship with Stay 22.
Find more fun in WNC! Check out our huge guide to Western North Carolina, Kidding Around WNC.
Contact Elizabeth Faulkner
Local realtor, Elizabeth Faulkner, takes great pride in working hard and providing top-notch service to her clients. Her goal is to make the buying and selling process a smooth one for each and every client she serves!