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“Relaxing and scenic trip”

Great Smoky Mountains Railroad
Ranked #2 of 34 things to do in Bryson City
Certificate of Excellence
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Attraction details
Recommended length of visit: 1-2 hours
Owner description: A 52-mile rail journey through valleys, inside winding tunnels and across spectacular gorges of the Great Smoky Mountains.
Reviewed 5 November 2013

Being train buffs, we couldn't resist the GSMR on our trip to the National Park. Also being fans of all things Art Deco, we had no choice but to book the first-class Silver Meteor. The only trip available the day we went was the Tuckasegee River Excursion, which may not be quite as scenic as the Nantahala Gorge, but it does include a stop in the quaint (if touristy) Dillsboro.

First-class passengers have the run of the train, so after the excellent, if early, lunch, we spent some time in the fabulously restored club car and passed through the bar car with its evocative tiled counter and the second-class dining car; we were as thrilled with the train as with the scenery, including the marble sink and counter and bronze fittings in the first-class restroom.

Dillsboro is the expected mix of historic, craftsy, and touristy. I found the perfect pair of earrings and our friend from England was thrilled with the "authentic American" souvenirs.

We returned to the train to find huge slabs of chocolate fudge mousse cake at each place; a bit more than I cared for, but most people devoured it. And, of course, coffee was available to wash it down.

As first-class passengers, we did receive a free travel mug that we could refill with any non-alcoholic beverage of our choice throughout the entire ride, and a free souvenir tote bag. As noted by some other reviewers, they do spend a good 15 minutes hawking the book and CD, and push it at every other opportunity. I might have been more inclined to purchase it if there were a discount for first-class passengers; I'd gladly have swapped the tote bag for a discount on the book.

1  Thank Dr_QBatonRouge
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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1,666 - 1,670 of 2,272 reviews

Reviewed 3 November 2013

We chose 1st class tickets because we were celebrating a milestone wedding anniversary so we booked 2 months in advance and chose a late October trip thru the Nantahala-Gorge for the fall foliage. The clerk who booked our trip also took our meal order making things very smooth indeed. The MacNeill car offers cocktails but we chose not to imbibe. Our daughter and I chose the salmon which was delicious and more than we could eat. My wife enjoyed the roast beef tips in mushroom gravy. Hanna took great care of us all. She made jokes and waited on each table joyfully. She joked, “You can call me anything as long as you don’t call me Hanna Montana.” There were two guys playing bluegrass on mandolin and banjo who took requests. Pretty soon we were all participating in a sing-along! The trip was uneventful in air conditioned comfort and we want to go back already.

Thank 968DavidT968
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 1 November 2013

We were visiting North Carolina from Texas with two small kids (4 and almost 2). My son is obsessed with trains and this seemed like the most kid-friendly way to ride the GSMR. It costs the same as the longer trips for less time in the train (about an hour total) and about 2 hours at the Great Pumpkin carnival. In addition to the train ride, every kid gets a cookie, juice, an apple, candy from the really cute trick or treating tent, and a big pumpkin to take home. There's also a hay ride, two bouncies, Peanuts characters for photos, coloring, games, and more. Plus some chicken nuggets. burgers, etc. for sale.

The train ride was fine. A few minutes along the river were pretty but the rest of the views were not very pretty. However, the carnival far exceeded by expectations. It's expensive but a full 3 hours of activities - worth it if you can swing it.

Thank FamilytravelTX
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 31 October 2013

We had the 9 am McNeill car in first class. Our hostess was Hanna and she was awesome!! She was the only one, besides another guy helping every once in awhile, serving the car. She was very informative and kept it light and funny. Brunch was included and I had the red pepper, onion and mushroom quiche, it came with fruit salad and a mixed greens small salad. It was so good I did not leave one bite. My husband had the shrimp and grits and it came with a biscuit and fruit as well. He loved his and only left the shrimp tails. LOL We had no clue that dessert came with it and it was a moist pumpkin cake and a cream cheese filling. Match the food with the views and we loved it. There was a guy who came into the car and played bango, which made it lovely with the fall leaves and good food. Also, Phil did a great job narrating the history of the area and the history of the train.
We also have a nephew who is autistic and did not come with us, he is obsessed with trains. I asked the conductor when we stop at Natahaula if I give him my camera can he get the engineer to take pictures of the cab and the different knobs, buttons and more. He said he could do one better and I got to take the pictures myself. They even let me blow the 5 minute warning whistle.
We will be back and we will come back with the entire family so my nephew can ride the train.

1  Thank ARFuller
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 31 October 2013

Travelled with parents celebrating their 66th anniversary. All RR personnel were helpful with the limitations of two nonagenarians. Disabled passengers do need to be able to climb four or five steps (with handrails) into the enclosed cars. (Inquire about wheelchair lift for open car.) We rode in first class, a vintage 1940s restored dining car. Reserved seating takes the guesswork out of where you sit. Comfortable upholstered chairs, large table. Delicious brunch menu offered on our trip. Nostalgic, fun ride through beautiful fall foliage to the Nantahala River Gorge. RR staff give informative talks along the way. Fontana Lake level drops every year in late fall, so the raw riverbanks and dried up marinas weren't appealing. Only a small detractor to an otherwise lovely trip. The GSM RR runs all year, offers many levels of service and amenities. Well-organized, entertaining and efficient RR company celebrating 25 years.

Thank Draftcross
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC

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