Tweetsie Railroad Travel Guide

We LOVE trains and enjoy visiting historic railroads.  We've ridden a number of them, including the ones in the Blue Ridge Mountains, including the Blue Ridge Scenic Railroad, the Great Smoky Mountains Railroad, and the steam train ride at Dollywood.  

There is just something truly magical about combining a steam powered engine with these beautiful mountains, and hearing that whistle echo through the mountain hollers.  

Tweetsie Railroad is another Blue Ridge Mountain historic railroad, located in Blowing Rock NC.  Tweetsie Railraod is an Old West themed amusement park combining classic family fun with old West nostalgia.  The Park features a historic steam locomotive train ride around the amusement park, live shows, amusement rides, the Deer Park Zoo, a chair lift, food, shopping, and much much more!

For more than 60 years, families have been coming to Tweetsie to experience the thrills and sounds of the historic steam locomotives and amusement park attractions.   We guarantee, you'll make life long memories with your visit.

[Updated 1/9/2023]

Disclosure: We are part of the Tweetsie Enthusiasts program, and tickets were provided for our visits by Tweetsie; however, all opinions and information are our own and we were not asked in anyway to influence our review/article.

Ok ... Confession time ...

We've spent many family adventures with our kids in the Boone and Blowing Rock NC area, and have driven right past Tweetsie Railroad more times than I would like to count.  Now that our kids are grown, we cannot write strongly enough here how much we regret that.   

Parents, don't drive by Tweetsie, take your kids.  You won't regret it.

In fact, our first visit to Tweetsie was in 2021 for Tweetsie Christmas.  We loved it, and spent the whole time thinking how much our older kids would have loved it when they were younger.   So oddly, we're going to visit more times in 2022, than we ever have, and as train fans, we're excited about it.  In true parenting fashion, we're going to spoil our grandkids and bring them as well ... once we get some that is (if our kids are reading this ... hint hint).

Ok - With that confession out the way, let's tell you all about the magical and historic Tweetsie Railroad Theme Park!

Tweetsie Railroad Videos

Here are all of our Tweetsie Railroad Videos:

Where is Tweetsie Railroad?

Tweetsie Railroad is located in Blowing Rock NC, just off Highway 321, south of Boone NC.   The Park is about 2 hours east of Asheville NC, 2 hours north of Charlotte NC, and 3 hours west of Raleigh NC.

2023 Tweetsie Railroad Hours

Tweetsie Railroad opens for the 2023 season on April 8th on Saturdays and Sundays only from 10am to 6pm until May 27, when the summer schedule begins. 

During the summer, the park is open five days a week – Thursdays through Mondays from 10 am - 6 pm , except for July 4th, when they will be open from 10 am - 9 pm.

The Fall schedule begins in August, and the park is open Saturdays, Sundays & Labor Day Monday 10 am - 6 pm

You can see a detailed schedule of their hours on their website.

Tweetsie Railroad Tickets

Tweetsie Railroad Family

Single day tickets for 2022 are $58 for adults and $39 for children (children 2 and under are free).  Tickets include all rides and live shows.  Attractions such as Gem mining, face painting, etc are an extra cost.

The best value are the GoldenRail Season Pass tickets, which are $134 for adults and $90 for children.   We are GoldenRail Season Pass holders, and love being able to visit anytime.

New this year, Golden Rail SeasonPass holders also get a Bring-a-Friend-Free ticket to use in April or May.  Season pass holders from 2021 will receive a discount if they renew again in 2022.

Parking is always free at Tweetsie Railroad.

Where do you purchase Tweetsie Railroad Tickets?

You can purchase a ticket that is good for any day at Tweetsie in advance.   The only exceptions are during Day Out With Thomas, and during the evening events: Ghost Train and Tweetsie Christmas. 

We strongly advise purchasing tickets in advance.  Tickets may be purchased at the park Ticket Office or online.

Discount Tickets for Tweetsie Railroad

Tweetsie offers discounts on general admission tickets for:

  • AAA Members
  • Active Military
  • Active NC State Employees and their immediate family

There are NO discounts available for Day Out With Thomas™, Ghost Train®, or Tweetsie Christmas®.

Tweetsie Railroad 2023f Events

Tweetsie Railroad Ghost Train 2022

In addition to Tweetsie Railroad's standard operating days, they also have a number of awesome annual events that are incredibly fun to visit.  

2023 Special events include:

Tweetsie Railroad Day out With Thomas

Day Out With Thomas is an annual Tweetsie Railroad event that offers children and their families the unique opportunity to take a ride with Thomas, the famous No. 1 blue engine.  Families can also have their photo taken with Sir Topham Hatt, and enjoy a day of fun-filled Thomas & Friends themed activities. 

We recently visited, and wrote up a full-guide on what you can expect, tips for visiting, photos, video and more!

Tweetsie Railroad Heritage Weekend

Rail fans and history buffs are invited to Tweetsie Railroad for a weekend-long event, intended to celebrate the golden age of the Tweetside Railraod predecessor, the  East Tennessee and Western North Carolina Railroad (ET&WNC).  The event also celebrates and highlights Tweetsie Railroad’s two historic, narrow gauge, steam locomotives.

Sunday morning, during Heritage weekend is the only day during the year where Tweetsie Railroad features a “doubleheader” as both the No. 12 and No. 190 locomotives are combined to pull the train. Railroad Heritage Weekend also includes special exhibits, demonstrations, and tours of the park’s unique on-site and state of the art locomotive repair shop.

The Tweetsie Shop is one of the  few places in the United States that restores, rebuilds and creates impossible-to-find parts for steam-powered locomotives. In the Shop, there is space large enough to house an entire engine and tender, and the skilled mechanics restore locomotives to operate better-than-new.

Tweetsie Railroad’s Memorabilia Room will also be open so visitors can see real historic artifacts from the ET&WNC and North Carolina’s first theme park.

The highlight of the weekend is the photo run, where ticketed visitors can ride the train, and get off at particular points, where the Tweetsie operators do special ride bys for photos and video!

If you love trains, history and steam engines, this is the weekend for you.  For 2022, Tweetsie Heritage Weekend was August 27th and 28th!

Tweetsie Railroad Ghost Train

Tickets are now on sale!

2022 Dates: 9/23 - 10/29.  Train rides are from 8:00pm - 10:00pm, and the park opens at 7:30pm for Ghost Train.

One of Tweetsie Railroad's most popular events, Ghost Train transforms Tweetsie from the Wild West into a haunted park with Halloween thrills and chills for all ages.

The highlight of each evening is a nighttime ride on the Ghost Train, other spooky attractions include the Haunted House and the Freaky Forest. 

Children can dress up in their Halloween costume, trick-or-treat on Main Street, watch the Black Light Puppet Sho, ride the amusement rides in the Creepy Carnival and explore the Freaky Forest.

A limited number of guests are admitted nightly; advance tickets are strongly recommended.

Tweetsie Railroad Christmas

Trains and Christmas have always been a magical combination for the holidays, and Tweetsie Christmas is certainly no exception.   This is our personal favorite event at Tweetsie, and is just amazing holiday fun for the whole family.

Tickets are now on Sale!

2002 Dates: November 25 - 27 & 30, December 1-4, 7-10, 11, 14-1717, 18, 20-23, 26-30!

Tips for Visiting Tweetsie Railroad

Here are a few personal tips for you to help make your Tweetsie Experience as magical as it can be:

  • Dress in layers, or bring extra clothing.   Temperatures in the mountains can be 10-15 degrees cooler than the piedmont.  Mountain whether can also be very unpredictable.  Always bring a jacket, and/or wear layers of clothing.
  • Rain - Rain can happen at anytime in the mountains, even on days you wouldn't expect it.  We recommend bringing a light rain jacket, or purchasing a rain poncho at the gift shops.  If rides shut down for the remainder of the day due to rain, Tweetsie may provide rain checks.
  • Bring a small backpack to carry your stuff, it makes everything so much easier.  This includes your camera, phone, wallet, extra clothes, stuff for the kiddos, etc. 
  • Plan to stay at the park, at least 5-6 hours to see everything, and get the most of your visit.
  • If you want to see the live shows, look up show times in advance, and plan your visit and location in the park around those times.
  • For the best views while on the train, sit on the right-hand side in the 2nd, 3rd or 4th cars.
  • Unlike many amusement parks, Tweetsie allows families to bring their own snacks and packed food.  So if you're on a budget, this may be a great option for you to save some $$.
  • During the summer, the park opens at 9am, but the first train ride isn't until 9:30am, and most of the rides don't open until 10am.   BUT, by getting their early, you'll get great parking AND see the engines come out into the park, which is a real treat.
  • If you prefer to avoid the crowds, visit the park on a Weekday, when it is far less busy.
  • Let the kids dress up!  Tweetsie is a Wild West themed park, that encourages kids to dress up and immerse themselves in the experience.

Tweetsie Railroad Park Tour

Tweetside Railroad is divided up into 4 main themed sections containing 13 rides, live shows, shopping venues, and restaurants.   

Your journey into Tweetsie railroad begins at the main entrance, which is hard to miss.   We recommend getting to the park early to get the best parking, and avoid longer walks to car when you leave for the day.

Main  Street

Tweetsie Main Street

You'll enter Tweetsie Railroad at the main entrance, a large building right next the parking area.  If you haven't already purchased tickets, you can get them here, along with season passes as well.    You'll enter the park through this building as well.

As you walk out of the entrance building, you'll emerge onto Main street, full of shops, and places to eat.  Directly across from is the loading area for the historic steam engine ride.  This is where you will board and depart the train ride, and is also a great place for taking photos as well.  Be sure to get a photo in the "jail cell" of those ornery family members!

Also on Main Street, you'll find the Funnel Cake shop, one of our favorites!

Tweetsie Junction

Tweetsie Junction is left from the train boarding area, and across the tracks.   The Tweetsie staff will close off this track crossing just before the train departs, and as it arrives.  There is a really nice observation deck just over the tracks to the right, for that perfect shot.

Tweetsie Junction has a few rides, a store, the black smith shop, and Tweetsie Palace, the largest live show in the park. 

If you want to head up to Miner's Mountain, but don't care to ride the lifts, you can catch a bus up to Miner's Mountain behind Tweetsie Palace.

Tweetside junction is also where you'll find the Fudge house (to die for), and the Feed & Seed Restaurant, our favorite place to eat due to the food selection and great views of the park and train.  During Tweetsie Christmas, you'll find Hot Cocoa, Cider, and some delicious Christmas goodies here as well.

County Fair

Tweetsie County Fair

Up the path a bit past the ski chairs, is County Fair, and as you would expect, it's a County Fair themed section of the park, with the most rides, and the most "thrill" rides of the park.   Now, with that being said, the rides at Tweetsie are all designed with younger kids in mind, so even the thrill kids aren't over the top.

In County Fair, you'll find a Ferris Wheel (of course), Tilt-a-whirl, the round-up, Free Fall, Tornado, some rides for smaller children, and the popular Turnpike Cruisers, which allows you to "drive" around the fair.

You'll also find an arcade (probably more for the adults!), and Dippin' Dots.

If you prefer to walk up to Miner's Mountain, you'll find the walking trail begins here as well (near the round-up).

Miner's Mountain

Tweetsie Miners Mountain

Miner's Mountain is intended for the younger kiddos, and has rides more designed for them, including the mouse mine train, Jet Planes, and Boats.  You'll also find a playground, Gem Mine, Gold Mining, a live theater, and the Deer Park Zoo.

The Deer Park Zoo is a live animal park that includes about 90 animals that that you'll get to be close and personal with.  Animals include goats, deer, emus, llama, miniature horses and much more.   You can buy feed to feed them as well.

There is also a restaurant and company store here as well.

Where to Stay when Visiting Tweetsie Railroad

Wondering where to stay during your visit to Tweetsie Railroad?   Fortunately the nearby towns of Blowing Rock and Boone NC, offer a number of great options, from rental cabins, to hotels, to campgrounds.

Below are just a few of the great options available to you when visiting Tweetsie Railroad and the Blue Ridge Mountains of Western North Carolina.

Hotels Near Tweetsie Railroad

Located almost dead center between Blowing Rock NC and Boone NC, Tweetsie has a number of great hotel accomodations to meet the budget and needs of any park visitor.  We love the Meadowbrook Inn in Blowing Rock NC and have stayed there multiple times.  

Here are our top rated hotels near Tweetsie Railroad:

Rental Cabins Near Tweetsie Railroad

Prefer a cabin rental near Tweetsie Railroad over a hotel?  The Boone and Blowing Rock areas offer numerous cabin options for Tweetsie visitors.  From smaller 1-2 bedroom cabins, to larger luxury cabins for larger familiies.

Here are some of our top rated cabin rentals near Tweetsie Railroad.

Campgrounds Near Tweetsie Railroad

Prefer to be more "in the outdoors"?   Boone and Blowing Rock NC provide some of the finest camping available in the Blue Ridge Mountains, and all of them nearby to Tweetsie Railroad as well.  Whether you're tent camping, or luxury RV Camping with full hook-ups, Tweetsie Railroad area Campgrounds have options for you.

Here are our top picks for the best campgrounds near Tweetsie Railroad:  

Where to eat near Tweetsie Railroad?

Tweetsie Railroad offers some excellent in park dining options, with our favorite being the Feed & Seed Restaurant.   But if you're looking for other options, or some place to eat before or after the park options, you can look no further than the town of Blowing Rock NC, which has some exceptional restaurant options.

Here are our top restaurant picks near Tweetsie Railroad:

Tweetsie Railroad History

Tweetsie Railroad History

Did you know that Tweetsie Railroad is the Carolina's first theme park?   Did you also know that Tweetsie Railroad isn't just a theme park, and popular NC attraction, but also on the National Register of Historic Places?   Both are true, and just add to the lure of this Wild West Theme park in Western NC.

"Tweetsie", as it is commonly called by the locals, dates back to 1866.  The Tennessee Legislature granted the East TN & Western North Carolina Railroad (ET&WNC).  The railroad would operate from Johnson City TN to the ironmines just over the state line at Cranberry NC.  This narrow gauge railroad began operations in 1882.

Later, additional track was laid to Boone NC, and in 1919, rail service was extended to the mountain community, including passenger service.

The name "Tweetsie" was given to the railroad by local residents due to the "tweet, tweet" of the train whistles as they echoed through the hills and hollers of the Blue Ridge Mountains.

Changes to the economy and transportation, along with significant flooding in 1940, caused the railroad to struggle.  In 1950, the railroad ceased all narrow-gauge operations.   Locomotive No. 12, was the only one of the original 13 to survive being scraped.

Grover Robbins made the decision to bring "Tweetsie" back the these mountains.  In the summer of 1957, Tweetsie Railroad debuted, with old Number 12 at the helm.   Visitors came from all over to welcome back the railroad, and her famous whistle to these mountains.

In subsequent years, the railroad evolved from an excursion railroad, to a Wild West theme park.  Attractions were added, along with live shows, restaurants, and additional buildings.  

Today, visitors can still ride behind the original Engine No 12, and another engine (No 190) that was acquired, restored and added to the park.  Generations have ridden behind this locomotive at this historic park, and the railroad tradition continues today at Tweetsie Railroad.

Other Attractions Near Tweetsie

See our Blowing Rock Guide for more information on thing to do and see in the area, while you're visiting Tweetsie!

About the author

Larry Deane is co-owner of Blue Ridge Mountain Life. He has spent more than 20 years exploring the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains and has a deep passion for nature, history, storytelling, and adventure. Along with his wife Jenn, they combined these passions to create Blue Ridge Mountain Life, a travel guide to these stunning mountains they are fortunate to call home.

Larry has more than 20 years of experience as a writer and journalist, and has established himself as a leading voice and expert for Blue Ridge Mountains. He is also an avid hiker, photographer, and videographer. He loves sharing his mountain adventures and knowledge with more than 500,000 people per month on Blue Ridge Mountain Life.

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