By Ashley de Coligny
Just like every other two- to four-year-old in the universe, my kids are obsessed with trains. And even though our house is littered with tiny little tank engines and Thomas is on our TV more than I care to admit, somehow it’s not enough. They want the real deal. Luckily, there’s quite a few train rides around Oahu, and the following have been tested and approved by my little train fanatics. Take that, Island of Sodor! All aboard…
This is a brand-new train ride as part of Pearlridge Center’s summer exhibit “Hall of Heroes.” Just for kids 48 inches tall and under, this mini train winds through a tall cityscape, complete with sound effects, lighting, and of course, plenty of comic book superheroes. $3 per ride, now through August 4. Operates during mall hours: Monday through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. and Sunday 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Pearlridge Center Uptown. For more information, visit Pearlridge Uptown.
We’re frequent users of this adorable little chugger. It’s a quick ride throughout the mall, maybe five to ten minutes or so, usually with a short line and short wait. This one is perfect for toddlers and young kids – they love the whistle and waving to shoppers. For yourself, just try and think of it as an easy way to do some window shopping. $3 per person (adults and children), babies under 6 months free. Operates during mall hours: Monday through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. and Sunday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.. Windward Mall. For more information, visit Windward Mall.
Sure, it’s for tourists, but it’s a fun family outing every once in a while, and your kids will love it. Be prepared for a line, but it goes faster than it seems. If you have a group, one can wait while the other takes the kids to feed the koi fish or take some pics with the pineapples. This ride is great for all ages, and it clocks in at a perfect time of 20 minutes. You’ll chug along through the pineapple fields and learn all you ever needed to know about them. Grab yourself a Dole Whip afterwards and call it a day. (Side note: the icy-cold pineapple wedges they stick in the Dole Whips are great for teething babies and toddlers to gnaw on.) Kamaaina rate of $7.25 for adults, children (4-12) $6, under 4 are free. Runs 9:30am to 5:00pm daily. Dole Plantation. Visit Dole Planation for more information.
Now this is the real deal. This historical train begins in Ewa Beach, then treks down to Kahe Point and back. The ride seems underwhelming at first, with sweeping views of dusty construction areas and the Costco parking lot. But once you get down to the ocean, it is a beautiful view, and we even spotted some turtles and dolphins. The guide points out landmarks and tells historical tales of sugar cane, but your kids will be much more enthralled with the sightings of horses, fire trucks, and waving to drivers at the railroad crossings. This one’s probably best for older kids. It’s a long ride – 90 minutes round-trip – and almost half of the toddlers on board were asleep by the end. Other tips: get there early to use the bathroom—there’s only one at the station and you’ll wait. You can bring snacks on board. Back at the station, you can walk around and look at the other trains, and there’s a small gift shop. Adults $12, children (2-12 years) $8, 2 and under free but must be held. Every Sunday at 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. Only cash and checks accepted. Hawaiian Railway Society, 91-1001 Renton Rd., Ewa, 681-4860. For more information, visit hawaiianrailway.com.
That’s right. It’s not really a train, but the younger set won’t notice. Whenever we need to get some shopping done at Pearlridge, we always promise a “ride on the choo choo” although it technically does not, in fact, go choo choo. Anyhow, at just 50 cents each way, it’s a cheap thrill. Kids love the sky-high view out the window, and you’ll get to rest your feet for a few minutes. I also love that you can just roll your stroller right in there. (Tip: make sure it’s running before you make any promises to your kids. We learned that the hard way after showing up once and finding it was under construction. D’oh!) 50 cents per way. Runs during mall hours: Monday through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. and Sunday 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Pearlridge Center. Visit Pearlridge Center for more information.
Got any other family-friendly activities, events, or tips to share? Let me know! Reach us at [email protected].