Published by Carl Hedinger. Last Updated on September 20, 2023.
The heart of the park is a ride on an authentic steam train, but visitors can enjoy live entertainment, delicious food, and other exciting rides and activities.
Tweetsie Railroad is one of the top attractions in Western North Carolina. If you still aren’t convinced about all the fun to be had here, then keep reading.
There are so many things to do at Tweetsie Railroad that you’ll be booking your tickets before the end of our guide!
Of course, we think you need to take in as much info about the park and all the Tweetsie Railroad attractions as possible, and here’s how we have organized this guide:
- Where is Tweetsie Railroad?
- The History of Tweetsie Railroad
- Hours of Operation
- Ticket Info
- Tweetsie Railroad Attractions
- Special Events
- The Best Things to Do at Tweetsie Railroad (Our Top 5 Picks)
- Things to Do Nearby
You’re welcome to skip to any section below or continue reading about the park’s location and the history of Tweetsie Railroad.
Where is Tweetsie Railroad?
Address: 300 Tweetsie Railroad Ln, Blowing Rock, NC
The entrance to the park is on Highway 321, the road that connects the two towns. Its convenient location makes Tweetsie Railroad a great day trip from Boone or Blowing Rock as a base.
You can visually plan your trip to Tweetsie Railroad and its surroundings with our Western North Carolina Map.
The History of Tweetsie Railroad
The Tweetsie Railroad has long been a presence in Western North Carolina, dating back to 1866. Since then, it has undergone changes and modifications that make it the beloved theme park that it is now.
- In 1866, the Tennessee legislature granted East Tennessee & Western North Carolina Railroad Company permission to build a railroad through the Blue Ridge Mountains.
- By 1919, the railroad had expanded to Boone, North Carolina, connecting the small mountain town with the rest of the state.
- Around this time, locals nicknamed the railroad “Tweetsie” because of the shrill “tweet, tweet” whistles that echoed throughout the mountains. The train has been known as Tweetsie ever since.
- However, all good things must come to an end. Floods swept through the area in 1940 and destroyed the railroads in Boone.
- In 1950, the railroad company ceased operations and scrapped all the steam locomotives that were used, except for one, the No. 12 “Tweetsie.”
- The No. 12 locomotive was then moved around the country, from Virginia to California. It was brought back to Boone in 1956 by Grover Robbins Jr. He and his brothers are responsible for multiple High Country attractions we know today. They include the ski facility at Beech Mountain, the Land of Oz attraction there, and The Blowing Rock.
- The current Tweetsie Railroad premiered in the summer of 1957, with No. 12 taking people for excursions around the mountains. The three-mile track was completed the following year.
- In 1960, Tweetsie Railroad obtained another authentic steam locomotive, the No. 190 from Alaska.
- In the following decades, Tweetsie Railroad transformed into North Carolina’s first theme park. A Wild West-themed town was built around the station, and attractions have been added to it throughout the years.
Hours of Operations
The park operates from April to October (make sure to check their website for specific days of operation). In the off-season, the park is open for select dates for special events, such as Tweetsie Ghost Train in September and October, followed by Tweetsie Christmas, which begins in late November.
The theme park has different ticketing options to meet all your needs. One-time tickets for Tweetsie Christmas are as follows:
- Adults: $60
- Child (3-12): $40
- Child 0-2 Years: Free
There are also seasonal and annual pass tickets for frequent visitors.
Your admission covers the price of the train ride, chair lift, and all of the rides. Additional costs include gem mining, food and drink, and animal feed for the petting zoo.
Tweetsie Ticket Information: tweetsie.com/buy-tickets/tickets
Tweetsie Railroad Attractions
Today, Tweetsie Railroad is so much more than an excursion railroad. It is the heart of Western North Carolina, with attractions like amusement rides, live shows, a zoo, and so much more.
Here are some of the best things to do at Tweetsie Railroad.
The Wild West Train Adventure!
All aboard! Of course, the first thing on our list is an action-packed ride on one of the trains. The park operates two historic narrow-gauge steam locomotives: No. 12 and No. 190.
Both trains leave from the station at the entrance and take riders on a three-mile track around the park with lots of interactive demonstrations and shows weaved throughout.
Daytime tickets let visitors take unlimited rides on the Wild West Train Adventure. For special events, including Tweetsie Christmas, visitors must purchase tickets for one specific train departure time that will take them to the park.
In addition to train rides, Tweetsie Railroad has a plethora of amusement rides suitable for the whole family. These rides include:
- Ferris Wheel
- Chair lift with beautiful, expansive views
- Free Fall
Tweetsie Railroad has everything from adrenaline-racing twists and rides to family-friendly carousels! Make sure you check which rides are open when you’ll be visiting.
From our experience, we typically enjoy the amusement rides at the top of the chair lift at Miner’s Mountain first and then walk down the hill to the carnival rides! There’s a mix of rides throughout, mostly geared toward children 10 years old and younger.
From April to October, visitors can enjoy a variety of interactive shows that encompass dancing, music, and magic. The Wild West Train Adventure is the park’s primary interactive entertainment, with bandits popping out along the tracks.
Swing by the Tweetsie Palace for magic shows, or grab a seat at the Miner’s Mountain Theatre for a charming animal-centered musical and a clogging jamboree.
During Tweetsie Christmas, don’t miss out on the Christmas variety show in the Tweetsie Palace!
Visit the Deer Park Zoo
- African pygmy goats
- European fallow deer
- Miniature horses and donkeys
It’s the perfect addition to an already exciting time at the park. Before entering Deer Park Zoo, guests can purchase animal feed. We recommend have a couple of dollar bills on hand if you’d like to feed some of the animals! Our 6 year old loved feeding the deer and some of the goats were brave enough to hop the fence!
Other Fun Activities at Tweetsie Railroad
In addition to these major attractions at Tweetsie Railroad, there are even more things to do:
- Get an even more authentic Wild West experience with activities like panning for gold and gem mining.
- Kids can also run around on the Miner’s Mountain playground and play games in the arcade.
- Adults can engage in some shopping at the original General Store or Company Store.
- And of course, the food here is delicious! Grab a dinner at the Cowboy Cantina or Feed & Seed, which offer pizza, hot dogs, burgers, nachos, and more.
- The dessert options here are even more exciting, with homemade fudge at the Fudge Works, hot funnel cakes at the Funnel Factory, and the park’s signature Mountain Ice Cream.
Part of what makes Tweetsie Railroad so thrilling is the special events it hosts throughout the year. We’ve mentioned Tweetsie Christmas a few times, but the park is known for some other great events as well.
- Tweetsie Christmas: The holiday spirit is in full swing here as the park transforms into Tweetsie Christmas. Starting at 5:00 pm on select dates in November and December, visitors can enjoy displays of thousands of Christmas lights as they travel in an open-air train. Other activities include Santa’s Gingerbread House, a live Christmas show, select amusement rides, and s’mores!
- Ghost Train Halloween Celebration: When the sun goes down, Tweetsie Railroad gets a little spooky. In September and October, the park comes to life with costumed characters, haunted houses, scary rides, and more.
- July 4th Fireworks Extravaganza: Enjoy the biggest fireworks show in the High Country. Tweetsie Railroad extends its hours so visitors can stay for the dazzling fireworks display.
- Railroad Heritage Weekend: This special weekend at Tweetsie Railroad remembers the golden age of the steam locomotive. Noteworthy events during this August weekend include a ride on a special vintage steam locomotive and tours of the train shop.
Our Tips for Visiting Tweetsie Railroad
Our biggest tip for visiting Tweetsie Railroad: Sit in Car 3 on the right-hand side of the train. While you can still see the show from any of the train cars, to get a front-and-center view, you’ll want to be in the middle of the train and on the right side.
Another hot tip: Wear comfortable shoes. Tweetsie Railroad is located on the side of a mountain, so there is most certainly some uphill walking to navigate the park. You’ll want to wear whatever is most comfortable for walking all around.
Wear sunscreen and a hat. We made the mistake of not layering up on sunscreen during our last visit in September. While there are some shaded areas, there isn’t much, and I had forgotten to lather us up with sunscreen and got a bit toasty!
You can pack a picnic if you’d like! While the food at Tweetsie is delicious, it is expensive. So if you are looking to cut costs, feel free to pack a snack and some water.
And our last tip for visiting Tweetsie Railroad is to check with your hotel to see if they offer discount tickets! During one visit, I was staying at Graystone Lodge in Boone and could purchase tickets through them ahead of time at a discount.
The Best Things to Do at Tweetsie Railroad (Our Top 5 Picks)
We made some tough decisions when picking the best things to do at Tweetsie Railroad. Nevertheless, here’s what we think are the top 5 attractions:
- Tweetsie Christmas
- Ghost Train Halloween Celebration
- The Wild West Train Adventure
- July 4th Fireworks Extravaganza
- Amusement Rides
Things to Do Nearby
Tweetsie Railroad’s positioning between Blowing Rock and Boone means that visitors can stay and explore both of these lovely mountain towns.
Blowing Rock is one of our favorite places to visit in the High Country, with fall being especially beautiful here.
While in the area, you can’t miss out on The Blowing Rock, one of North Carolina’s oldest tourist attractions. The town also has a rich history, which you’ll see as you stroll downtown or visit the Blowing Rock Art and History Museum.
We also hold a special love for Boone after many visits to this High Country town. The views from this town are spectacular given that the Blue Ridge Mountains are nearby.
Boone has an event for every season, from the Watauga County Farmer’s Market to the ski season in winter. However, no matter when you visit, be sure to check out the downtown shops, the Boone Greenway Trail, and nearby Blue Ridge Parkway stops.
More Things to Do Near Tweetsie Railroad
We’ve covered quite a few attractions and things to do near Tweetsie Railroad, but did you know that we’ve created many more NC travel guides for the area?
Here are a few of them.