So, I decided to blog about my recent trip to NC while I continue working on my Ireland blog posts.
My dad & step mom decided to head to NC and spend some much needed R&R at their cabin…so, my sister and I decided to drive up & visit them since they live in FL and we don’t get to see them that often.
Their cabin is only a 4.5 – 5 hr drive from where we live so it’s close enough for us to be able to spend a long weekend.
On the way there, my sister and I stopped off for lunch at the Ocoee Dam Deli & Diner.….Named after the nearby Ocoee Dam.
We arrived at a perfect time as the place was almost empty…however, it didn’t last that way for long!!
The deli offered a variety of foods
After looking over the menu, I decided on a salad and my sister ordered the salmon patties, sweet potatoes and fried okra! The food and service was very good!
We arrived to NC on a Fri afternoon and left to go back home on a Tuesday afternoon.
When I spend time in NC, I am always looking for something different to do!
While our parents were out to dinner one evening, my sister and I watched a show about train rides in NC so we began researching it.
We looked up the one they were talking about on the show, Great Smoky Mountain Railroad, to see if they had any availability.
They offered 2 different train rides; one that was approximately 4 hrs & 32 miles roundtrip and one that was approximately 4.5 hrs & 44 miles roundtrip.
They also offered two different types of trains, one diesel and one steam engine. We had to book the diesel because the steam engine wasn’t running on the day we had to book.
There was several different seating options: First Class (that comes with lunch and free refills of soda, coffee & tea all day); Family First Class that offers the exact same options as First Class but it’s for families; Crown Class that offers assigned seating in a climate controlled car with large picture windows & a souvenir tumbler with free refills; Coach Class that features open seating in an enclosed car where the windows can be opened & are also heated and have ceiling fans and the Open Air Gondolas where you have open seating with unobstructed views, half height walls and a roof to protect you from the elements.
Since the weather was going to be nice, we decided to go with the open air seating …we also chose the shorter ride since my parents had their 2 yr old grandson with them.
We had to drive approximately 1 hr 15 mins from the cabin to Bryson City, NC where the train departed.
We had prepaid for parking when we purchased our tickets online so once we arrived, we were directed to the parking area.
After parking, we headed to the train depot to pick up our tickets.
Once we arrived at the depot, we decided to change our tickets to the Coach Class because we thought the Open Air would be a bit too cold. My dad and I are very cold natured so we didn’t want to risk freezing!
The ticket price for open air and coach class is actually the same price so we didn’t have to pay any difference to move to the enclosed car….the cost was $51 pp & $29 for children ages 2-12.
We chose the 12 pm departure time since the train had a 1.5 hr layover in another small town called Dillsboro where you could get off and have lunch.
Since we had arrived earlier than the 30 mins that was required, we walked over to a nearby café called, Mountain Perks Espresso & Café, to purchase a pastry and coffee.
The place was really neat inside….they had lots of options to choose from.
I ordered a coffee and my sister ordered a pumpkin muffin….the coffee wasn’t good but my sister said the muffin was delicious!!
Read reviews here
After making our purchases, we headed to get in line for the train.
We spotted this cool mural as we were waiting Once we boarded, we realized the seats also came with a table (like restaurant style seating)….so, it made for a nice, comfortable ride.My sister and I sat at one table while my parents and nephew sat at the table across from us.
The train offered snacks a few cars down from ours. They opened the snack bar once the train left the depot.
My sister and I headed to buy some drinks and snacks a few minutes after the train departed.
They offered hot dogs, pretzels, bottled & fountain drinks and a variety of snacks.
During the ride, you can get up and walk around….since the weather had warmed up, we walked out to the open air gondola for some better views.During the ride, we rode along the Tuckasegee river, passed huge tomato farms and a pumpkin patch!We also crossed over the Tuckasegee River Bridge built in 1900!Views of the Tuckasegee RiverWe went through the man made Cowee Tunnel…..the tunnel was built in 1882 by prisoners who all drowned during the time the tunnel was being dug. They were all chained together while crossing the river in a small boat to get to their job site when the boat capsized.The train became completely dark once we entered the tunnel!
We then crossed over the river on a smaller bridge…..how does it hold the weight of a train?!As we were nearing the train station in Dillsboro, we passed the partial action movie set of the Fugutive that starred Harrison Ford!Once we arrived in Dillsboro, we exited the train and headed to the first restaurant we spotted, the Foragers Canteen….we were all starving at this point!
Read reviews here
Everyone had the same idea and the restaurant quickly became packed!We got seated beside a huge window that had views of the train tracks…After looking over the menu, I decided on the Blacksmith Steak Salad for $10.99 while the rest of the crew opted for the Black Porch Burger…it was a house seasoned burger topped with pimento cheese, lettuce, peppered bacon and a fried green tomato…the cost was $12.99.The service was sooooo slow!! It took them a while before they ever took our drink order and then forever for them to bring our drinks and take our food order….then appox. 45 mins to bring out our food!!
Everyone enjoyed their meal but I thought my steak was way too peppery!!
By the time we got finished eating, we only had 20 mins to spare. We felt it wouldn’t be enough time to even walk around the town so we headed back to the train!
I was really disappointed that we didn’t have time to check out any of the cute little shops! I would definitely skip this restaurant if I do this trip again!
Shortly after boarding the train, we headed back to Bryson City!
Going back through the tunnel!You were able to see the views from a different perspective on the way back.
Shots of the river
We passed the Jewel J Revis Memorial Bridge
The open air gondola
Shots along the way
After arriving back to the train depot, we exited the train.
We spotted a train museum nearby so decided to check it out since it was free.
It was really neat on the inside….they had toy trains running along tracks that had such intricate detail!The train collection began in 1953. It includes over 7,000 engine cars and accessories!My nephew loved all the interactive displays!Some of the trains were very old….each train had a price showing you how much they were worth…some were worth a lot!One of the rooms was dedicated to Dr John A Moberg who transferred his train collection to the museum on Feb. 1, 2002.After spending about 30 mins in the museum, we headed to the gift shop where we made a few purchases.
After leaving the gift shop, we spotted this cool mural on the side of the building.We then called it a day, and headed back to the cabin….
It was a nice, relaxing way to spend a day!
I highly recommend the Great Smoky Mountains Railroad! They offer lots of different packages throughout the year so check them out!
Thanks for reading! Happy Fall Ya’ll!