Dinner on a Track
By Noel Daniel
Hopefully it’s not too often that you sit down on a train to enjoy a drink, only to have the conductor pushing to outrun a zombie menace. Or solve a Murder Mystery. Thankfully for some, that’s only a small portion of the Sierra Dinner Train – it’s also a great place to meet Santa Claus, enjoy a beer tasting, or just relax from a long weekend.
“It seems there is a special story every weekend,” said Chris Hart, President of Mendocino Railway. “The Zombie Train attracts such a unique crowd that the audience is half the fun. During the rest of the year, young couples are going on their first date on Murder Mystery trips, nervous gentlemen are proposing on Sunset Dinners, bachelorettes are having a big night out the Beer Train, grandparents are taking a youngster on his first train ride, and so much more.”
The experience is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, one that Hart promises will make unforgettable memories. At least, it will if your brain isn’t eaten.
ZombieTrain: Evacuation runs through October and into the first week of November, so act fast– the last train is on Nov. 7. According to the site, the infection has spread, cities are in ruin, and ammunition is scarce. Now survivors have to escape 40 minutes on a round-trip ride to lose the walking dead.
General admission is $35, admission for children ages 2-12 is $25, and the price for the Adult-Only car is $45 and includes a beverage (beer, wine, or nonalcoholic) in a souvenir cup. For an extra $20, you can get a zombie makeover for the greatest pictures you’ll ever post on social media.
The Oakdale Beer train is another popular experience and is a great opportunity to unwind before the holidays really take off. There’s a train on Nov. 14, and each trip features live music and at least three to four Northern California breweries pouring selections for tasting. The ticket price includes the three hour scenic train ride, live music, the souvenir tasting glass and eight tasting tickets. Standard tickets are $45 with $55 for VIP access and $25 for designated drivers.
If you’d prefer your dinner with a little more whodunnit, try the Murder Mystery train, taking off on Nov. 21. Ticket price includes a three-hour train ride, immersive dinner theatre, and four courses of American fare with unlimited coffee and soft drinks. During the ride, you’ll meet a number of quirky characters, but don’t get too attached – it is a murder mystery, after all. It’s your job to solve the case while occasionally taking shrimp cocktail breaks. Prices are available online.
Feeling thankful? Then climb aboard the gravy train. This Thanksgiving dinner on wheels offers three courses of American fare and a three-hour train ride. The train takes off on Nov. 26, of course, and guests are welcomed to take a walk to the open-air cars to enjoy a cup of coffee or glass of wine.
The last train of the year is the one that fans of the holiday have been waiting for: The Magical Christmas train, starting Nov. 28 and running until Dec. 24. And tickets are already on sale.
“It is often the one big outing for families during the Holidays, so you can feel the excitement,” said Hart.
Wear your favorite pajamas and book a trip on this 75 minute train ride with music, hot cocoa, and cookies. And a visit from Santa Claus himself. You can save $3 by preordering your copy of “Morgan and the Magical Christmas Train.” If you include the name of the child, or children, receiving the book, you’ll receive a customized inscription inside. Books will be available when you board the train.
When it comes to an unforgettable dinner atmosphere, visitors have their pick of plenty of unique experiences. And Hart’s personal favorite? The Sunset Dinner train, a mini-vacation away from the rush of our daily lives.
“Even though I consider it our ‘flagship’ trip, it is often overshadowed by our other attention getting entertainment trips,” said Hart. “After a great meal and conversation with ever changing views, there is usually an hour after dinner to retire to the lounge car or go out to the open-air observation cars at sunset. This is one of the few trips where I don’t worry about keeping people engaged with food or entertainment. We keep it simple and let the evening develop on its own.”
For More Information, or to Purchase Tickets, visit www.sierradinnertrain.com/sierradinnertrain.