This summer, it hit me how fast time is going by. Julian will be starting Kindergarten in the fall; Mary, preschool — and my “baby,” Harvey, just turned two. Time is flying by — and I just want to slow down and enjoy the here and now. So, in honor of Harvey’s second birthday, we booked a family train ride on the Lebanon Mason Monroe Railroad. From start to finish, it was truly a day to remember at LM&M Railroad.
Located in historic Lebanon, LM&M Railroad is a easy, scenic drive up 1-71. The train operates on approximately 16 miles of track between Lebanon, Mason and Monroe. For most trips, the LM&M runs 4.4 miles south from Lebanon Station in downtown Lebanon to historic Hageman Junction, then back to the station. Rides clock in around 1.5 hours, making them the perfect length for kids.
Each month, LM&M offers different themed rides — June’s ride is the Curious George Express, featuring visits from everyone’s favorite monkey and yellow-hat-wearing man. In fact, Curious George is one of my kids’ favorite books — so in addition to the kids being super excited to ride a real, live train, they couldn’t wait to meet their favorite characters.
We were advised to arrive early, as our 1 p.m. train began boarding at 12:45. In addition to arriving early to check in at the station, you’ll also want to leave yourself plenty of time to explore. My kids loved looking at all the old train cars and historic buildings at LM&M. Plus — the ticket office had train tables! It was fun for us to stretch our legs around town before the train ride. (It’s worth noting that there are no restrooms on the train. We had to wait in a pretty sizeable line at the station’s restroom. If possible, have your kids use the bathroom at home before the ride!)
Before long, it was time to board. My kids were so excited to board a real, live train, complete with a conductor and ticket collector, who stamped our boarding passes. We chose a section of seats at the very “back” of the train — which became the front of the train on the returning ride!
Driving through the countryside was fun. There were creeks, farms, old houses, animals and lots of trucks. Diggers! Combines! Tractors!
The scenery kept the kids occupied, and it was really nice to be able to sit with them and take it all in together. Normally, I’m driving when Julian exclaims, “Look! Mommy!” — so it was a treat to be able to listen to him and talk about everything he saw. I also loved being able to snuggle with my kids as we rode.
All of a sudden, the door behind us opened — and out walked Curious George and the Man With the Yellow Hat! Being in the last car, we got to meet these two first, which was fun and definitely took the kids by surprise. Both characters were friendly and affable, posing for lots of photo opps and enthusiastically interacting with all the kids. Seeing how happy Mary was to meet Curious George was definitely was a highlight of the ride.
As the train started back to the station, my kids began to get antsy. So out came the lollipops! They happily sat and enjoyed their treats for the next ten minutes. (There’s also a concession stand on the train, which takes both cash and credit cards.)
We then walked to the Open Air Car to enjoy the last stretch of our ride. This was easily my favorite part of the ride — it was a whole different experience, and the warm sunshine and cool breezes felt really good! My kids loved watching the LM&M flagger race to the various railroad crossings in his pickup truck.
Back at the station, my kids high-fived the flagger and ticket collector. They were all smiles, and I could tell they felt special about getting to ride a real train. I, on the other hand, felt special for getting to spend uninterrupted time with my favorite people in the whole world. As life gets busy this summer, definitely consider pausing for an afternoon for a family ride on the LM&M Railroad.
The LM&M Railroad is located at 27 South Mechanic Street in Lebanon, Ohio (45036). Call 513-933-8022, ext. 101 for tickets. In July, The Super Why Limited will be at LM&M — and your Thomas-loving kids will absolutely adore A Day Out With Thomas in August.