11:05 a.m. Sunday: Best Nearby Blast from the Past

Niles Canyon Railway

If you really want to impress the kids, and yourself, try this ride. Niles Canyon Railway is a total retro scene with one-hour steam engine rides that start at the Sunol Depot and chug you back in time to a historically rich flashback of the Fremont foothills. Some of the first tracks laid on the West Coast were in Niles Canyon around 1862 when a town sprang up around a freight terminal there. See the canyon adobe where California outlaw Joaquin Murrietta lived, the park where John Philip Sousa played his marches, and where motion picture companies like Essanay Studios filmed some of their most famous silent movies with Charlie Chaplin, Bronco Billy, and Mary Pickford. With old-town raised wooden sidewalks and its many antiques shops, the Old West atmosphere of Main Street Niles makes for a great summer outing. The Pacific Locomotive Association’s Niles Canyon Railway offers train rides to the public year-round. The Sunol Depot is at Kilkare Road and Main Street, and trains depart every 45 minutes from 10:30 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. the first and third Sundays of each month ($8 adults, $4 for ages 3-12).

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