This is your last weekend to catch a ride on the New Hope Valley Railway, an old-timey locomotive that takes you on a scenic nine-mile ride through the rolling hills of Wake and Chatham counties. At this time of year, the train is decorated for the holidays and Santa Claus rides along to talk to children and hand out treats.
The train runs from May to December, taking passengers on an hour-long ride in covered open-air cars. Along the route, you can sometimes spot deer, turkeys, hawks, owls and turtles in the woods.
The rides are a great way to teach your children a little about a time in North Carolina history when people depended on steam-powered trains for transportation and to deliver mail, lumber, tobacco and other goods. Most of the towns in North Carolina sprang up around railroad stops.
Before or after boarding the train, you can visit the free open-air North Carolina Railway Museum, with its collection of historic railway equipment. Its open 9 a.m.-4 p.m. on weekends. You can also stop at the gift shop to buy railroad-themed trinkets and toys.
If your child has ever played with Thomas the Tank Engine, this may be a great family activity.
Rides are Saturday and Sunday at 11 a.m., 12:15 p.m., 1:30 p.m., 2:45 p.m. and 4 p.m. All trains depart from the depot in Bonsal, a community near Apex in southwestern Wake County. You can buy tickets online or a limited number are available on site an hour before the train departs. They are $10 for adults and $7 for kids ages 2 to 12.
To buy tickets or learn more, go to http://www.nhvry.org.
• If youre looking for a free activity this weekend, there are good options in Raleigh.
On Saturday at 11 a.m., you can head to Cameron Village Library for Fireside Tales. Staff from the library and N.C. State University will team up to tell stories about popular childrens book characters and play live music. Kids can make crafts and eat treats. All ages are welcome. For more information, call 919-856-6723.
• On Saturday from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. , kids can learn to make a traditional North Carolina ornament at the N.C. Museum of History.
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