These days, there are no shortage of Easter event options for your kids. Parks, businesses, churches, farms, even breweries now have Easter egg hunts scheduled. Traditionally, my family has gone to the Dublin Park Easter Egg Hunt in Madison. We’ve seen the event attendance grow steadily each year until it was almost TOO MANY people – the actual hunt resembled a battle scene from Braveheart or Game of Thrones. So, we decided to have a change of pace and instead of going on a traditional hunt we went on North Alabama Railroad Museum’s Peter Cottontail Express train ride. We were NOT disappointed!
North Alabama Railroad Museum
Located in Chase, Alabama just east of Huntsville, the non-profit, fully volunteer staffed North Alabama Railroad Museum (NARM) features the restored Chase Depot as well as 30 preserved railroad cars.
Each year, NARM celebrates the Easter season with its Peter Cottontail Express, which gives youngsters a chance to meet and take pictures with Peter and his helpers, then take a 35 minute train ride. Afterwards the kids get a special surprise!
Here Comes Peter Cottontail
NARM advises passengers to arrive early (at least 30 minutes prior to departure) to pick up tickets at will-call so we took that time to explore the Depot. I’d advise getting there even earlier than that to really have plenty of time to explore and visit with Peter.
In addition to the quaint ticket office and outlying buildings, there is also a train, caboose, and several boxcars to explore. The caboose showed the Spartan conditions train operators worked under, and inside one of the boxcars was a neat model train display. Knowledgeable volunteers are also on hand to answer any questions you may have about the trains.
Take the time to have a potty break BEFORE getting on, as restrooms are reserved for children’s emergencies ONLY. They will announce this as well, but you can skip the rush.
Coaches have been painted, so the paint was fresh and the interiors are decorated in an Easter theme. Indeed, the leg room and window space was very luxurious, especially compared with flying on airplanes.
Boarding is done by coach, and there are signs off the loading platform indicating the separate coaches. All seats are reserved, so make sure you check your tickets and locate the coach and seats you’ve purchased. For the Peter Cottontail Express excursion, all riders, regardless of age, require a ticket. Every child (12 and under) on board receive a special present as they disembark the train.
The train ride itself takes about 35 minutes total; the train will travel a few miles, then go back the way it came to the depot. Along the way the route is filled with decorations such as wild animal statues; your kid will delight in trying to find them all as well as waving to people at the railroad crossings.
A New Easter Tradition
Overall, everyone in our family really enjoyed the Peter Cottontail Express; both kids were interested in trains before and loved looking outside during the trip. The oldest has since asked about going to other events at NARM.
Tickets for this event tend to go early so book yours as soon as possible. For an even more special experience, guests can reserve a spot in the VIP Coach, limited roomettes are still available.
NARM also runs several themed events a year, such as Christmas, Mother’s/Father’s Day, so if you have Easter plans already consider doing an alternative event. If you’re looking for an alternative to “traditional” Easter events, then by all means try the Peter Cottontail Express this year!
Peter Cottontail Express Details
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Sam Chow was born and raised in the Mississippi Delta. A 5th grade field trip to Space Camp started his lifelong love of technology and engineering. He juggled working in Huntsville while studying for his engineering degree at Mississippi State and moved here full-time in 2001. He and his lovely wife Connie were married in 2006 and currently have a five year old and a nine year old, a dog, and a cat. In his spare time he enjoys training and watching mixed martial arts, watching old foreign films, reading, and video gaming.