There is a strong sense of nostalgia for the times when slow rides aboard a train were the only way to reach far-away places. Many of the old railways in Ohio have been abandoned for being too slow or unprofitable and are today being converted into compelling tourist attractions. Most are operated by not-for-profit organizations that provide education about the historic role of railroads in the Ohio past. In general, they offer great fun aboard the restored historic passenger cars, often pulled by old diesel locomotives through the beautiful Ohio landscape.

1.Cincinnati Dinner Train

Cincinnati Dinner Train
© Cincinnati Dinner Train

The Cincinnati Dinner Train is a popular attraction in Cincinnati both with locals and visitors. It is a three-hour excursion aboard three beautifully restored vintage 1950s dining cars. There is also the Queen City Tavern car that has a well-stocked bar and offers live music and entertainment. The train leaves the station at 6 pm every Saturday and travels along the riverfront. The guide entertains passengers with local lore and points out important landmarks as they pass by. While enjoying the beautiful views, guests will enjoy a four-course gourmet dinner. The trips are so popular reservations are necessary a few weeks in advance.

2172 E Seymour Ave, Cincinnati, OH 45237, Phone: 513-791-7245

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2.Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad

Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad
© Courtesy of Kenneth Sponsler -

The Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad train travels through Cuyahoga Valley National Park between the cities of Akron and Independence. Passengers can board on one of several stops along the way. The trips are organized in cooperation with the Cuyahoga Valley National Park, with the goal of not only providing an alternative mode of transportation in the area, but also of offering the experience of travelling by train to the younger generation. The passengers aboard the train enjoy wonderful views of the scenery and wildlife in the national park while guides offer a brief history of the railroad in the area. National Park Scenic is the basic excursion, and it lasts three and half hours. Other trips include the Beer and Wine Tastings trip and Day out With Thomas, a two-hour excursion for the kids. Bike Aboard! involves riding a bike along the Ohio & Erie Canal Towpath Trail and taking the train on the way back.

Customer Service Office, Tilden House, 2325 Stine Road, Peninsula, OH 44264, Phone: 800-468-4070 ext. 1

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3.Hocking Valley Scenic Railway

Hocking Valley Scenic Railway
© Hocking Valley Scenic Railway

The Hocking Valley Scenic Railway offers a fun excursion aboard a historic train from Nelsonville, Ohio to the Hocking Hills. It is operated completely by local volunteer members. The train runs along the track built in 1869 to transport coal, and it has been offering entertaining train rides since 1972. Besides regular weekend trips between May and October, there are also several theme trains such as Robbery Train, Easter Bunny Train, All-Caboose Train, Santa Trains, and others. The original passenger cars have been meticulously restored by volunteers and are all considered of great local historic value. The train consists of the 1918 former B&O combination passage and baggage car, three 1920 Rock Island commuter cars, and a 1950s heavyweight day-coach railcar from the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad.

33 W Canal St, on U.S. Route 33, Nelsonville, OH 45764-1105, Phone: 740-753-9531 or 740-249-1452

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4.Lebanon Mason Monroe Railroad

Lebanon Mason Monroe Railroad
© Lebanon Mason Monroe Railroad

The Lebanon Mason Monroe Railroad offers their passengers a memorable trip into the past when trains were the fastest ways of travelling. This not-for-profit organization offers historic train rides through Warren County, Ohio, departing from downtown Lebanon. A fully restored antique locomotive pulls the original restored historic passenger cars. The most popular excursion is Turtle Creek Valley Flyer through the scenic Warren County, during which the conductor offers information on the history of the railroad. Among several other popular train excursions is Train Ride with Daniel Tiger designed for kids and their parents and Family Pizza Train, popular with everyone young and old. It includes a family size pizza and a can of soda.

127 S Mechanic St, Lebanon, OH 45036, Phone: 513-933-8022

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5.Lorain and West Virginia Railway

Lorain and West Virginia Railway
© Lorain and West Virginia Railway

The Lorain & West Virginia Railway was built in 1906 to serve the steel mill in Lorain, but it was abandoned in April 1977. In 1979, the not-for-profit Lake Shore Railway Association was established in order to save the rail line from removal and in 1993 started offering popular excursions, sharing with local residents the knowledge and historic importance of railroading in Lorain County. There are a range of trips offered along the old railroad, including the train ride during the traditional August Lorain County Fair, which lasts about 50 minutes, Fall Foliage Tours aboard the open cars (when available), and Wine on Rails, which takes passengers to Matus Winery through the beautiful Lorain country.

46789 OH-18, Wellington, OH 44090, Phone: 440-647-6660

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6.The Ohio Railway Museum

The Ohio Railway Museum
© Courtesy of Evgeniya -

The Ohio Railway Museum was founded in 1948 and is one of the oldest railroad museums in the country. Its first exhibit was the Ohio Public Service Interurban Car #21, now on the National Register of Historic Places. Today, the museum's collection includes a number of fascinating exhibits including the, the last CD&M interurban parlor car #501, nicknamed "The Red Bird." The museum’s goal is to educate visitors on the role of railroads in Ohio and its impact on people’s lives through fascinating displays and regular demonstrations. Visitors also have a chance to ride the original restored streetcars and the museum’s Pullman passenger car on the old Columbus, Delaware, and Marion rail bed and right-of-way.

990 Proprietors Rd, Worthington, OH 43085, Phone: 614-885-7345

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7.Zanesville and Western Scenic Railroad

Zanesville and Western Scenic Railroad
© Courtesy of nadianb -

The Zanesville and Western Scenic Railroad offers passenger train excursions through beautiful southeastern Ohio on a spectacularly scenic historic rail line called the Glass Rock Spur. Passengers board an open car for a mile-long ride from Mount Perry to Turkey Run Bridge. The car is pulled by an old restored locomotive. The train is currently using only a small portion of the historic rail line, until a number of bridges, more railroad tracks, and a train station are repaired and restored. All the work is done by the local not-for-profit organization that has been working on restoring the historic railroad for the last three years.

5700 OH-204, Mt Perry, OH 43760, Phone: 614 595 9701

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7 Best Ohio Train Trips