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There is nothing more magical to a 6-year-old than a train. It doesn’t matter where you’re going or how fast. The ride, the movement, the noise—it’s magic. Throw in a Carolina blue sky and the promise of hot dogs for lunch and you just might make a memory that lasts a lifetime.
A ride on the Amtrak Piedmont is about as easy as it gets.
My wife and I had decided to take a field trip with the boys for the day. A quick look online showed a trip to Burlington and back on the Piedmont wasn’t just easy, it was almost engineered for what we were looking for, a fun day trip that didn’t break the bank.
“Where are we going?” my son kept asking, as we prepared to leave. “Oh, just taking out the trash,” I said. He didn’t buy it, but it kept him wondering.
Our 18-month old had no questions. He was too busy unpacking the bag we had put together for our trip.
A short drive to the station downtown, and we were riding the rails in style and comfort. With free sticker books and paper conductor hats, the kids were having a blast, faces pressed to the glass as the countryside rolled by.
The station in Burlington is a converted engine repair shed containing a wonderful museum showing the history and importance of the railway to the city—a little learning layover.
The trip took just over an hour each way and after visiting downtown Burlington to grab lunch at Zack’s Hot Dogs, famous for slinging hotdogs since 1928, we headed back to the station to wait for our ride home.
With full bellies and a sleepy toddler, we boarded the return train for Raleigh.
As we arrived back in the City of the Oaks, my son asked if he could have his picture made with the train.
“Is this better than taking out the trash?” I asked.
All he could do was smile and nod as he watched the train roll out of the station.
— Shane Richardson
Amtrak – Piedmont Raleigh to Burlington Round-trip: $22 adult, $11 child
Prices are non-refundable, no checked bags.
Enjoy the journey, then hit the road on your own.
As of August 3rd, you can take your bike along for free, but space is limited so make a reservation for you and the bike.
One famous dog
201 W. Davis Street Burlington, 336-226-4746, zackshotdogs.com
For 87 years, three generations of the Touloupas family have served piping hot dogs with Mr. Zack’s secret chili recipe, which he still won’t divulge. You’ll find other eats too; Zack’s serves breakfast, lunch and dinner six days a week.
Mon.-Thur. 6:30 a.m.-10 p.m. Fri.-Sat. 6:30 a.m.-11 p.m. Closed Sunday.
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