Pumpkin Train in Williams With Kids
October is such a fun month for families to get out and enjoy the cooler weather in Phoenix. We recently took a three day trip to a small town in northern Arizona called Williams. This town is most well known as “The Gateway to the Grand Canyon,” because it is where you can take a scenic journey on the Grand Canyon Railway. But every weekend in October, there is a special ride you can take when the Grand Canyon Railway transforms into the Pumpkin Train!
The train, which departs at 11 a.m., 1 p.m., and 3 p.m., takes passengers to a hidden pumpkin patch, available only to guests of the railway. The train ride is about 20 minutes long, during which you will be entertained by festive music, like the Monster Mash and Ghost Busters. Inside the train, the fall decorations were impressive and added to the autumn ambience.
Our Conductor, Dave, was very funny, entertaining us with jokes and information about the scenery and wildlife that we passed. A small black cat darted out from behind a house as we rumbled past, prompting Dave to declare he had seen a wild black panther run by! My six year old found this hysterical. He also helped me get a splinter out of my daughter’s hand with a first aid kit during the ride back. Thanks Dave!
My kids were so excited when the train slowed down and the pumpkin patch came into view. Get those cameras ready! The hay bales are perfect for climbing and jumping off, and with mountains on one side and the train on the other, you could not ask for a better backdrop for fall family photos.
Each ticket includes one pumpkin, so the girls had a great time racing through the hay to find their perfect pumpkin pick. When they got the exact right pumpkins, we carried them back onto the train, left them in our seats, then went back outside to keep playing. There was a small hay bale maze that the kids enjoyed running through, some caskets for halloween props, a wagon to climb, and a small cut out train to stick your face through an opening for a picture. We stayed at the pumpkin patch for half an hour, and enjoyed every minute.
The ride home was relaxing, and over too fast. But there was so much more to do! When we pulled back into the station, we were directed to a room where we sat at a table filled with supplies to decorate our pumpkins. The kids chose silly face sticker sets and colored more designs on with markers.
The only trouble we had was lugging our pumpkins from the train to the decoration room, then back to our car. They were pretty hefty, and the kids were unable to carry their own pumpkin more than a few steps. I had encouraged them to get small ones they could carry, but once at the patch, we discovered that the pumpkins were almost all the same shape and size. Not huge, but too big for anyone under eight to hold for long. I would recommend bringing a wagon or stroller to help push your pumpkins. You could keep it in your car, then go get it to haul your pumpkins after the train returns to the station.
After we decorated our pumpkins, the kids got to explore a maze and a haunted train to the left of the station. The maze was cute and fun, but the haunted train cars may be too intense for little ones. It really was not very scary, but it depends on your kids personalities. My three year old was OK if I held her, and my six year old thought it was hilarious and went through twice, delightedly screaming at every flickering strobe light. My eight year old wasn’t thrilled. So you just never know. If you’re not sure, send an adult through first who can assess how your kids might react.
Overall, our family really enjoyed our morning experience with the Pumpkin train. It was a great way to welcome the start of the fall season.
After we explored the Williams station gift shop for a while, we ate just across the street at the Pine Country Diner, which was really impressive! We had a big meal of very hearty classic diner food, followed by some fabulous pie. Then I washed it all down with an Annie Oakley Latte. If all you want is coffee, you can go get a delicious cup at their coffee bar in the back without sitting down in the restaurant. The gift shop is filled with really fun specialty items, many of which are locally made.
After lunch, we walked down the street to the community center playground and let the kids burn off all that energy that I wish I had. We highly recommend the Pumpkin Train experience to families. We had a great time.
Eight year old says, “I liked the Pumpkin Train because it took us to see lots of animals.” (There were a few wild animals we saw out the windows during the ride.) “I did not like the haunted house! It was too scary. My favorite part was decorating the pumpkins. I also liked the circus maze.”
Six year old says, “I liked seeing the black cat out the window on the train ride. The Pumpkin Train was super fun! I liked the haunted house because of the alien at the end.”
Three year old says, “Fun! It’s pretty fun. The maze by the train is pretty fun.”
The Pumpkin Train is offered on weekends only in October. Tickets are $29/adults, and $22/children ages 2-15 (under 2 are free). For more information and tickets visit https://www.thetrain.com/events/pumpkin/.
For a complete list of pumpkin patches in Arizona, including the best in Phoenix, check out our popular blog post!