I don't like to get caught up in the "I was born too late" discussions. I'm fine just where I am. But I did miss out--for the most part--on the wonderful tradition of train travel.

And by that I mean, trains as an option for travel like airplanes or cars. Nowadays, train rides are special events and will circle back to a starting point. I'm not complaining. Those kinds of attractions are a blast and well worth the price of admission.


There are plenty to choose from within a comfortable driving distance of where you are now, but don't overlook one such attraction offered by the Tennessee Central Railway Museum.


Located in Nashville, the Tennessee Central Railway Museum prides itself on NOT just being a "static" museum. It celebrates the Volunteer State's rail history by not only ADDING equipment to its collection, but also by making sure the beautiful locomotives you'll find on the property are maintained until they are in operating condition.

The museum's mission statement indicates as much:

Our mission is to preserve, restore, interpret, and operate historic railroad equipment to educate our guests about America's railroads.


Excursions are the main focus of the Tennessee Central Railway Museum, making it one of Nashville's most popular attractions. This extraordinary L&N 819 made its first run in two decades just last year.

My grandfather worked the railroad most of his adult life until he retired; he would love this. I wish we would have known about it while he was alive. It opened in 1989, five years before he passed.


On a typical journey, you'll tour through central Tennessee and make stops in cities and towns like Lebanon, Cookeville, Monterey, Watertown, and Baxter. And if you play your cards right, you just might get to ride with Santa and Mrs. Claus.

Yes, that's the North Pole Express, one of many specially-themed excursions offered by the Tennessee Central Railway Museum.

The museum's excursions come highly recommended; Melissa Taylor-Banks is certainly a big fan.

"It is a non-profit organization that restores vintage train cars and puts them back in service for trips and excursions. And it is AMAZING!!!
We went for the wine tasting trip, and I didn't get a lot of pictures because I was so wrapped up in the awesomeness of it all!"


If you want some museum history before you, here's a quick mini-documentary that should get you up to speed--no pun intended.

Vacation ideas are pouring out of my head these days. I love to travel. And before the year ends, I might just do that on a train through central Tennessee.

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On the list, there's a robust mix of offerings from great schools and nightlife to high walkability and public parks. Some areas have enjoyed rapid growth thanks to new businesses moving to the area, while others offer glimpses into area history with well-preserved architecture and museums. Keep reading to see if your hometown made the list.

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