Whether your kiddos are locomotive enthusiasts or the family is just looking for an affordable way to enjoy Florida’s year-round sunshine, take a train ride to family fun at the best railroad attractions in the Tampa Bay area.

Central Pasco & Gulf Railroad
Crews Lake Wilderness Park
16739 Crews Lake Drive
Brooksville, FL 34610 
(727) 639-7639

Colorful, child-size trains depart from charming wood and metal depots and travel through the natural wooded beauty of rural Pasco County. The Central Pasco & Gulf Railroad was built and is maintained completely by volunteer train-lovers, which creates an especially family-friendly atmosphere. Your train ride includes a stop at covered barbeque grills and picnic tables on the second Saturday of each month. A suggested small donation makes this a very affordable destination for all ages.

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Florida Railroad Museum
12210 83rd St. E.
Parrish, FL 34219 
(941) 776-0906

Explore the history of Florida’s railroads in a way that both informative and fun at a museum where the exhibits are actually rides. Trains from the past take your imagination back to another time, while trains of the future capture the possibilities of things to come. See them all at this affordable year-round attraction where visitors of all ages can discover the wonders of locomotives.

Busch Gardens Serengeti Railway
10165 N. McKinley Drive
Tampa, FL 33612 
(888) 800-5447

Take a ride through the African Plains without leaving Tampa Bay. The Serengeti Railway takes you through acres of habitat that simulates the natural environment of animals in the wild. See giraffes, elephants, and zebras as you may have never seen them before, running free in an open setting. Best of all, you can enjoy it all from the comfort of a mini-locomotive.

Largo Central Railroad
E. Bay Drive and Central Park Drive
Largo, FL 33779
(727) 586-7415

Miniature train rides are truly unique at the Largo Central Railroad attraction. Tiny locomotives pull open seating train cars through a park-like setting, with accommodations for guests as young as one year old. There’s even a birthday train that takes you to a covered picnic area where you can add food and fun to your celebration.

Lowry Park Zoo
1101 West Sligh Ave.
Tampa, FL 33604
(813) 935-8552

Make your visit to the zoo even better with a ride on the Overland Express. From a brightly-colored locomotive, you can see the animals wandering through their open-air enclosures. The Overland Express train ride is included in the price of admission, making it an affordable addition to your visit. Lowry Park Zoo also has rental areas for private parties and other events.

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Maryann Tobin is an award-winning writer based in Tampa, Florida. She has appeared on the History Channel’s ‘DECODED’ series, and her investigative reporting on animal welfare issues led to a WTSP 10 News Investigators report. Her work can be found on Examiner.com.