If you live or have visited the Akron area, you’ve probably seen or heard the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad (CVSR) trains. I’ve lived in the area my entire adult life and have never checked the CVSR out. They have fantastic programs that I’ve heard about year round including the Polar Express at Christmas time and Thomas the Train in the Summer. I’ve heard people rave about how fun it was but somehow never got around to checking it out. I’m here today to help you not make the same mistake I did. Don’t miss out on the exciting adventure right in our own back yard. Read on to find out why you should plan a trip on the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad.
Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad Brunch Review
We were able to go on the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad for a 3 hour train trip with a 4-course brunch. Make plans now to enjoy the CVSR Brunch Saturdays and Sundays during the months of April and May, 2011. The trip departs form Akron Northside Station at 11:35am. What a fantastic way to watch spring come into bloom with your family, friends, or as a date with your love.
I wasn’t sure how my two kids ages 4 and 6 would handle a 3 hour train ride, eating a 4 course meal. They can hardly sit through dinner out at a nice restaurant before going climbing under the table.
Arrival of Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad Train
The excitement began the moment we entered the parking lot at the Northside Station in downtown Akron, Ohio. People lined the tracks anticipating the CVSR train, others sat in one of two holding areas.
Many were talking with the CVSR “conductor”, snapping pictures with the friendly man.
From afar, we head the train whistle blowing, the train was coming! People stood waiting with cameras and video cameras in hand capturing the exciting arrival.
The CVSR crew increased the excitement with conductors and train workers in uniforms stood between the train cars waving at us upon their arrival. We were all excited, kids and adults. This was also the first train ride for myself and husband.
Video of the Arrival of the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad Train[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uMdnvLCWrkA[/youtube]
It was so neat to see the train up close, such a beautiful train and much larger when you are standing right next to it. This also aids in the view from the train, something I didn’t even think about before our trip on the CVSR.
There are several options when riding the CVSR, you can ride in the travel cars or if you go for the brunch, you will be riding in the dining car. The booths were spacious and comfortable for the entire train ride, which is very important when traveling with kids. I wasn’t sure how many people would be in the dining car with kids, I was a little nervous. Let me put your mind at rest if you have little ones. About 2/3rds of the dining car was families with kids from newborns to teenagers. There were also couples enjoying the trip.
Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad Brunch First Course
Brunch service started immediately with drinks. Brunch is served with with coffee, tea, iced tea or water. You can also purchase mimosa’s, wines, beer and soft drinks. Next, our friendly waitress from Acme Catering offered us an amazing selection of breakfast pastries and huge muffins.
Elijah and I enjoyed chocolate and blueberry muffins, my favorite!
Matt and Elizabeth enjoyed apple and strawberry pastries. So fresh, sweet, and delicious. Also in the first course came a large fresh fruit cup with granola.
My kids couldn’t eat it all. There is plenty to eat, we were offered more pastries or muffins. Elizabeth asked for a muffin after eating her strawberry pastry! She loved it! At this point, I could have been content as it was very filling but I knew more was to come. One huge piece of advice, don’t eat anything before going on the CVSR Brunch, seriously, no breakfast at all.
Cuyahoga Valley National Park Scenery
We headed out of Akron’s Northside toward the Cuyahoga Valley National Park. Being that we live next door to the Cuyahoga Valley National Park, we thought we would immediately recognize where we were, not so. It took a while to figure out our surroundings. It was so fun to ride the rails behind houses, though the wooded areas, the swampy areas, past the dog park. People would wave from parks, trails, and their back porches as we road by.
All eyes were set outside the large train windows, every seat has an excellent view of nature. We went last week while it was still cooler out, with the buds on the trees started to open and flowers starting to bloom, now is the time to schedule your trip on the CVSR. It was amazing when we went, it has to be breathtaking now. My kids love nature and were thrilled to see the varying landscapes, trees, swamps, ducks, rushing rivers, and even 2 waterfalls while on the train!
Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad Brunch Second Course
The Second Course arrived with an impressive plate with an Egg and Cheddar Crepe with a cheese sauce, seasoned hash brown potatoes and applewood smoked bacon. The applewood smoked bacon was delish and delighted my kiddos especially. The egg and cheddar crepe with cheese sauce was so flavorful, we weren’t sure what it was at first. It was just so good, nothing that I would have any idea how to prepare. Hash browns always hit the spot with me, seasoned just right. I am afraid that my kids were not able to eat 1/2 of it, although the bacon was devoured immediately.
My husband and I enjoyed breakfast, however I couldn’t finish, especially knowing that I had 2 more courses ahead of me.
Wildlife on the CVSR Trip
One of the conductors came to our car to alert us of an exciting thing ahead. Besides the famous bridge that the CVSR trains are always photographed beside, we were headed to a wetland area with a heronry. My family has enjoyed watching the Blue Herons return this Spring to the Cuyhoga Valley National Park. We have never been to the Pinery Narrows heronry located on the west side of the Cuyahoga River, 1 mile north of the Station Road Bridge Trailhead. We had the pleasure of riding right past the heronry on our train ride.
The conductor pointed out the herons but also a huge Eagle’s Nest! I’ve never seen an Eagle’s Nest so I was thrilled to see it in all it’s glory. It was huge, I tried to take a picture but didn’t want to miss out on the moment so I didn’t try hard enough. Sorry. You will just have to go to experience it yourself. 🙂 The conductor said that normally eagles don’t nest with herons but this eagle had the right idea to move in next door to a food supply of heron eggs and baby herons.[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6kLTyTMJQvU[/youtube]
Stop at the Cuyahoga Valley National Park Visitor’s Center
Shortly after, we made it to the 1/2 way point. We had a 40 minute stop at the visitor’s center. It was only about a fourth mile walk across a bridge and down a paved path to the center.
It was the right amount of exercise and fresh air to make everyone happy. Elizabeth had started talking with a 5 year old girl while on the train. Getting out and playing together during this 40 minute break was perfect to make friends. They were too cute and ended up sitting together with Eljiah too on the second 1/2 of the trip. The girl and her grandma had traveled 3 hours from Southern Ohio to ride the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad. They were excited and impressed by the whole experience. Isn’t that the case, we take for granted what we have in our own back yard?
We were able to find some really neat displays on the history of the Cuyahoga Valley National Park in the 2-story building. The displays went from 12,000 years ago to now. Boy have things changed!
CVSR Train Cars
We had a fun time getting on and off the train at the stop. The train is pretty long, I should have counted the cars, probably a dozen. We had to walk through each train car to get to the loading and unloading platform. It was fun walking through the various cars. Ours was the only dining car. You can see how spacious and comfortable the tables are.
The dining car with a table was perfect with kids too. We brought markers, coloring books, and small toys for my kids to play with. We didn’t know how much scenery would keep their attention. While they didn’t play too much with the items, it was good to have. The table was a nice surface to play on with kids.
There were many passenger cars, with seats similar to that which you would find on an airline, with a little more leg room and in groupings of 4. There were 2 train cars with stuff you could by from hot food, snacks, drinks to souvenirs, coloring books, hats, shirts, and toys. This is good to note if you take a train ride without the brunch.
Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad Brunch Third Course
After we got settled down with fresh drinks, our Third Course arrived. You can choose from a Sauteed Chicken Breast with Sherry Mushroom Cream Sauce, Smoked Beef Brisket with Citrus Chipotle BBQ Sauce or Pasta Primavera with shrimp. Kids can choose from chicken nuggets or mac n cheese. I enjoyed the Pasta Primavera with shrimp while my husband enjoyed the Beef Brisket. The pictures didn’t turn out of the pasta, let me just tell you the pasta had a good flavor with a hint of pesto and the shrimp was plentiful and perfect. The steamed vegetables were yummy too.
I also enjoyed tasting my husband’s Beef Brisket. The Citrus Chipotle BBQ Sauce was tangy with a little kick. The couple next to use raved about the sauce and took their leftovers home!
My kids both chose the chicken nuggets with apple sauce. They were almost like small chicken tenders, they were plump, juicy pieces of white meat. Very tasty. My kids were stuffed and only managed to eat a couple each so we took their leftovers home.
Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad Brunch Fourth Course
The Fourth Course is Dessert: Lemon Cream torte with drunken strawberries. Kids get plain “un-drunken” strawberries, of course. Even though we were all completely full, we did enjoy at least some of our deliciously sweet and tart, super moist lemon cream torte. We brought the rest home and enjoyed it that evening.
Is the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad Brunch good for kids?
So, the big question is “Is the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad Brunch good for kids?” Will kids like the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad? What is a good age to ride the train? From personal experience with a 4 year old girl and a 6 year old boy, I say YES! There were babies through teenagers and I saw nothing but happy kids (and even happier parents). Take them. It is an amazing experience to ride a train at any age. It is even more amazing to ride the train through the Cuyahoga Valley National Park.
We have 2 amazing resources right here in Summit County – a train and a national park. Take advantage of it, enjoy it with your families. If you don’t already have Easter Plans, the CVSR is offering a special Easter Brunch on April 23 & 24th, 2011. Take a look at their special Easter Brunch menu.
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Buy Tickets to Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad Brunch
You can buy tickets online to the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad Brunch. $50 Adults and $25 kids 3-12
Win $50 Gift Certificate toward a CVSR Scenic Trip (Closed)
Updated: 5/5/11 Winner Announced: Congratulations, Brian
CVSR is offering one lucky AkronOhioMoms.com fan a $50 Gift Certificate toward a CVSR Scenic Trip. Explore the length of beautiful Cuyahoga Valley National Park (CVNP) from the comfort a train car. Peer out the windows, catch a glimpse of a white-tailed deer, bald eagles soaring above, families hiking along the Ohio & Erie Towpath trail, and historic buildings. Prices start at just $10 a person. Winning this gift certificate would be a fun outing for the entire family!
Contest ends at 11:59pm EST on May 2, 2011 when a winner will be drawn at random and announced the next day. When commenting, please include your email address (not visible to public). I will notify the winners and they will have 36 hours to respond!
This was not a paid post. My own opinions were used based on my perceptions and experience. Thank you to CVSR who provided the tickets for review & giveaway.