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The Ultimate LA Family Guide ™

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Los Angeles Live Steamers

The live steamers is a a railroad located within Griffith Park at 5202 Zoo Drive in Los Angeles.  The best access is off the 134 freeway next to Forest Lawn. For those of you familiar with Griffith park it is directly adjacent to the Travel Town train museum.

Live Steamers from our knowledge and from volunteers we have spoken to at live steamers is not affiliated with travel town which is run by the city of los angeles. There is a very clear separate entrance and parking lot for live steamers. Parking is free for both venues however. Happy to say that the Los Angeles Live steamers is a fairly inexpensive outing.

The steamers are open for the general public to ride from 10:45am - 3pm

every Sunday (weather permitting), except for the Sunday before Memorial Day and the first Sunday in October.

While it is stated that the three dollars per person is a donation, it is not set up as a donation. There is a ticket booth when you walk in and the tickets themselves even encourage you to collect them to earn a a free admission.  

None-the-less the other two Griffith Park trains have a similar cost and this train is significantly better. You should also note that there are height and weight requirements Passengers must be at least 34" in height  and weigh under 350 lbs. to ride.  This rule does mean that young children might not meet the height requirement and these very small trains can’t accommodate too much weight.   The live steamer trains are not fully enclosed trains but rather give you more of like a saddle to sit on and balance yourself on. It is for this reason that young children are likely not allowed to ride.

For safety reasons there is no photography while riding the train.  At first I kind of frowned upon this rule, but then I soon realized that there are a few sections of the ride where a distracted photographer might stand up and get hurt.  

The reason why my husband and kids are fond of the live steamers train ride  is that it that the train experience is more than just a simple oval that they are used to.  The two other train ride experiences in griffith park are just that.  The train here has several unique features including the ability to change directions depending on what day you show up. The terrain is very neat and the track continues for a much longer time than the other trains at Griffith Park. The railroad has over 395 feet of steel and concrete bridges. There are also three tunnels, small town replicas, two water towers, a roundhouse and three train stations.

Another cool feature of the Live Steamers that set this attraction apart from other train experiences is that there are also different types of trains and there is an element of surprise as you get close to the front of the line because you don’t know which train you’ll get placed on until you are at the very front.

It was neat to see real steam coming out of several of the trains. There is also a very large train depot under construction in the front and a garden railroad is also near the front entrance.

If you show up on the third Sunday of each month, you will have the opportunity to visit Carolwood Barn which is adjacent to the Live Steamers.  This free attraction features Walt Disney’s Barn Museum, the original Santa Fe & Disneyland Combine Coach, and Ollie Johnston’s Victorian Train Depot, 11 am to 3 pm.  We did tour it with my children, but while my children are very interested in art and in natural history museums, they were not that interested in the Disney memorabilia from the last 50 or 60 years on display.  My husband however loved seeing how the trash cans were even Disneyland trashcans and liked looking at the monorail models in the museum and many more Disney artifacts.

What is the major downside for the Live Steamers? If you go on the days when the Carolwood barn is open, there is going to be a much greater crowd. When we went the wait was almost an hour. If you go on a different Sunday then the wait will be closer to 20 or 30 minutes. It is hard to keep kids occupied as they wait in a long line so it’s definitely something to consider.

You might also see a hobbyist train go right by you and you might think., hey, they should have some passengers on that one.

We really enjoyed our visit to the Live Steamers, despite the wait, and we think you will too!