Griffith Park and Southern Railroad

Best Park Train Ride, August 2010

Babies and parents and puppies jostle for space in the queue for the family-owned Griffith Park and Southern Railroad. A kiosk dispenses popcorn and pinwheels. Just over the hill from the Travel Town collection of authentic 19th-century locomotives, a pair of one-third-scale engines decorated as coal-fired steam trains (complete with chimneys and domes) ring their bells and pull into the station. A private concession since 1947, the train employs a costumed conductor.Sixty-four passengers roll along in the wood-trimmed, steel-wheeled, propane-powered vehicle, enjoying the scenic park vistas. The track runs alongside ponies, a western town, and through a garden of charmingly deteriorated plaster wildlife. All this in eight minutes and for half the priceof a venti mocha.