By Guest Blogger Lauren Warren
My husband asked me what I would like to do for Mother’s Day. I popped up and immediately said, “Tweetsie Railroad!” My husband gave me the side-eye I have become accustomed to when he questions my sanity. “Seriously,” I said, “we have been talking about taking the kids for months. Let’s do it!”.
When I looked up the ticket prices the next day, I cringed a little. It would not be a cheap day trip. We briefly discussed not going. But my kids already knew the deal and knew that we would go with enough pressure (aka, whining). So we hurriedly got dressed, threw some stuff in the car, and headed to Blowing Rock.
We made it there from Greensboro in a little less than two hours. Neither myself nor my husband had been since we were children, and no one in our family had any idea what to expect. It turned out to be the best day trip we have had in some time!
The first thing we did was hop on the train for our introduction to Tweetsie. Tweetsie operates two steam locomotives that run on coal. The history behind them is fascinating. I won’t bore you with it here, but definitely check out their website if you are interested. A man in a costume, who later turned out to be a “bandit”, rode the train with us. The train made several stops, and each stop featured a skit that was great for the kids and had some PG adult jokes. My kids were a little skittish and not convinced that these weren’t real bandits and cowboys.
Next, the kids opted to go gem mining. There are two ways to get up the mountain to the gem mining: bus or chairlift. The chairlift operates like a traditional ski lift and carries you up the mountain in an open-air car. My kids loved this!! As soon as we got off the chairlift, my kids spotted a playground. Of course. We convinced them to save the playground for later, and hit up the gem mining.
Once inside Tweetsie, almost everything is included. The gem mining was an exception, however. We paid $12 for a bucket that could be share, and they guarantee you will get some gems. They were pretty rocks, and my kids were both very excited about “discovering” them. Even after Tweetsie, my kids continued to play with the rocks and trade them at home, so the $12 seemed worth it.
It turned out that the whole upper area of Tweetsie is geared towards younger kids. My son, six years old, enjoyed all of it. However, he was arguably on the verge of aging out of the activities in this area. While there, we rode the mini train, which went into a tunnel with a very psychedelic black light mouse display, watched a fun and interactive show with Tweetsie characters, and went to the petting zoo. The petting zoo was great, and my kids enjoyed all the free-roaming goats. Pet food is available for purchase for $0.50 and comes in an ice cream cone that the goats can eat. And of course, we could not leave without visiting the playground.
We took the chairlift back down and visited the rides geared towards older kids and adults. My kids enjoyed the go-carts a lot. It was the only thing we had to wait in line for that day. We also rode the Ferris wheel and the carousel. There are a few other rides, including a drop zone, that we did not ride that day. They also have an arcade that we managed to deftly hide from my video-game-loving son. However, I sneaked in and peeked around. Most of the games appeared to be $0.25, which I felt was reasonable.
We, of course, could not make it any further without checking out Fudge Works. As its name implies, it has fudge. But it also had a lot of other sweet treats. I got a chocolate-covered brownie, and my kids got chocolate-covered pretzels. Everything was covered in chocolate.
Afterward, we went to see the live can-can show, complete with flying feathers and lots of kicking. My daughter thoroughly enjoyed this. At this point, the day was coming to a close. We headed to the gift shop and bought two cap guns for my kids ($3.99 each, what?!) and a boa for my daughter because she needed to look like one of the can-can dancers. Rather full of themselves at this point, my children decided they were brave enough to try the main Tweetsie train once again.
Having seen it one time already, my kids enjoyed it, even more, the second time around. They pretended to play along with the cowboys, as I wondered how these actors could keep up the same amount of energy and pizazz that they had earlier that morning. It was impressive.
After our final train ride, my kids discovered yet more rides we had somehow missed. After a few more of these, I was exhausted, hungry, and ready to go. We decided to head out and stop and get dinner on the way home. As we dragged our kids away (they still had not slowed down even after a solid six hours at Tweetsie), my son immediately asked when we could come back.
On the way home, as my husband and I discussed our day, we realized in total awe that both of our kids had gone the entire day without one single complaint. Not a single one. And that, in and of itself, tells you how much they enjoyed Tweetsie. I asked my husband if he thought it was worth the ticket price. He said it was not worth the price, but worth the memories. And I could not have said it better.
Should you go? Yes. Will it be a blast from the past? Also, yes.
Tips and Tricks for Tweetsie:
-Look for discounted tickets! Many employers and even banks offer discounted tickets. Sometimes Costco and Sam’s Club will have discounted tickets available. Also, Tweetsie offers direct discounts for AAA members, active military, and active NC State employees.
-The food that was sold inside Tweetsie is just okay. And very expensive. I would recommend taking your own food, snacks, and drinks inside.
-You can also leave the park and come back if you wanted to go get food. They will give you a stamp when you leave and you can re-enter the park on the same day.
-They had lots of clean bathrooms in different areas of the park. Wait until you get inside and don’t use the port-a-jons in the parking lot if you can avoid it.
-When you ride the big train, the best seats to see the show are in the middle and on the right side (if you are facing the front).
-All the employees were incredibly helpful and very friendly. We looked very lost when we first entered, and one of the cowboys helped us get on the train and told us where to sit. It was a huge help!
-Based on our own visit, and when speaking with the employees, it does appear that Sundays are the least busy days to visit currently.
-Go early in the day to the petting zoo so the animals are hungry! (Another great tip we got from an employee while there.)
-The shows were a lot of fun. The Hopper and Porter’s show is geared toward younger kids (more towards 4 and under).
What is the Best Age to Visit?
I have given a lot of thought on a good age range for Tweetsie. A lot of it depends on your children. My kids, 3 and 6, could not have had more fun and it felt like a perfect age for them to go. Will my son still love it in two years when he is 8? Probably. Would he still love it at 10? I am not so sure. In researching this article I read several rather funny reviews from parents with teenagers visiting the park. I would definitely not recommend taking a teenage girl who would clearly rather be getting a main-pedi. But I do think there is something for people of all ages to enjoy.
Please comment with any questions and I would be happy to answer what I can!
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Thank you for your kind comments! I am glad it brought back some good memories.
My husband and I both went as kids and it was nice to share that with our own children.
I absolutely loved your story. It took me back as our children are now 23 and 18. We did everything you described in your article and it made me happy, abs sad for that time that’s since past. We used to buy season passes every year and go nearly every weekend back then. We’ve not been there since 2015. Tweetsie has raised their prices to a point where it’s almost unaffordable. But like you stated in your article, it’s the memories!
Thank you for such a positive and sweet article! God bless!
Great review! I definitely want to take my twin 3-year-olds. Do you know if there is anything else for that age in the area if we were to extend the day trip to a weekend trip? And/or good campgrounds? I will definitely research but thought I’d ask in case you knew off-hand!
I am so excited you want to take your twins! I think they are a great age to enjoy Tweetsie! There are some wonderful playgrounds in the area and lots of trails with fun swimming holes. The Moses Cone Memorial Park has easy flat trails and the General Store in Valle Crucis is so fun! Hope you find some great places to visit!