Active families looking for a new way to enjoy the great outdoors take note: Rail biking with Revolution Rail Company in charming Cape May, New Jersey, is an exhilarating, family-friendly experience! Gather your brood for a bike riding adventure along a deserted railroad track, passing abandoned train cars and winding through scenic marshland before stopping at a quaint overlook. Adding to the fun: On the way back to the station, you can stop at a nature preserve for a short walk along the trail.
Read on for our review of this fun family outing that's perfect for fall, and find more fun things to do outdoors in our Guide to Parks and Playgrounds.
Subscribe to our newsletters to get stories like this delivered directly to your inbox.
If you want to embark on your own rail biking experience with Revolution Rail Co., be sure to book reservations online in advance. An all-ages outing, you can rent double bikes for two people for $80; quad rail bikes for four are $140. The out-and-back trail is four miles long, and you can expect the entire excursion to take about 1 1/2 hours.
Our check-in process was a breeze, and the check-in is located inside the Cape May Welcome Center. Upon arrival, park in the lot outside. Be aware that it is metered parking. There was a short line when we arrived to check-in, but it moved quickly. The company even provides a complimentary pair of binoculars that you get to keep! If you have more than one child, you may want to bring another pair to stave off sibling squabbles. Public restrooms are available at check-in, and a port-a-potty was located about halfway through the trip at the nature preserve.
Safety first: A five-point harness is available for little kids to keep them securely strapped.
The guides were great, providing us with a brief talk about how the rail bikes operated, including brakes, seatbelts, and what we could expect on our trip. One key note: Don't keep anything in your pockets. The reclined seats mean you will likely lose it, but the rail bikes have a good-sized basket for water bottles, snacks, jackets, cameras, sunscreen, etc.
The course includes a few hills, but mostly it was an easy trip out and back. My son is a big 5-year-old and he could not reach the pedals, which he found disappointing. They do have a five-point harness you can borrow to strap in smaller children, and I would highly recommend that. We used it for our 3-year-old and it was perfect for keeping her secure. For children under 25 pounds, you can request a Baby Bjorn-style harness, or use your own.
RELATED: Fun Family-Friendly Bike Rides in New Jersey
Rail biking is only part of the fun during this outdoor excursion. Add in bird watching and a nature hike, and you've got a full day of family entertainment.
The Highlights of Our Rail Biking Adventure
My children were thrilled to be on a rail bike and excited to use the complimentary pair of binoculars to look for birds. Every time we came to a rail switch in the tracks they excitedly called it out. My daughter bopped her head from side to side yelling for us to pedal faster and faster. They also enjoyed passing some abandoned train cars on a separate track next to ours.
The kids were absolutely thrilled with the Garrett Family Nature Preserve we stopped at on the way back. At the nature preserve, a guide told us to look for birds, as fall is the time when southbound birds stop in Cape May. There is a pollinator hotel on the nature trail and milkweed growing all around in the butterfly meadow.
The pollinator hotel encourages insects to make their home in the Garret Family Nature Preserve.
As adults, we enjoyed the leisurely pace of the ride, the 15-minute history talk one of the guides gave when we stopped at a scenic overlook at Cape Island Creek, the beauty of the marsh we traveled through, and how much our kids loved it. On the way back you slow down for a photo opportunity and the guide takes a picture of your group on your rail bike, which you can download later for FREE.
RELATED: Hit the Serene Columbia Trail for a Family-Friendly Hiking Adventure
There's something thrilling about biking—or walking—across the abandoned rail trail.
Is Rail Biking Worth the Price?
The $40 per person cost is steep, so you might be wondering, is it worth it? The kids would say a resounding yes! The only downside of the experience for us was that four miles of biking went too quickly. The trip ended up taking about 1 1/2 hours, but that was mostly because of the stops at the river and the nature preserve. During a portion of the trip, the railroad track runs behind peoples’ houses, and it was not quite as scenic as we had hoped for.
Other Activities in Cape May
After our visit to Revolution Rail Co., we walked around the charming downtown area of Cape May, just blocks away from the information center. Then we took a short drive to the beach where we finished off an amazing day with a picnic while watching dolphins play in the water with our new pair of binoculars! Another stop to consider while you're there is the Cape May Zoo, which is a great zoo and also FREE.
Know Before You Go to Revolution Rail Co.
- I would suggest sneakers, hats, sunscreen, and depending on when you go, bug spray. Remember not to keep things in your pocket, so bring a bag and put everything in the basket on the bike.
- The round trip took about 1 1/2 hours and is about four miles of cycling.
- There are bathrooms at the information center and one about halfway through the trip.
- There was no food or water at the information center, so pack a snack and water.
- Plan to pay for parking. The parking at the Welcome Center was metered and we found most options in Cape May were metered parking or pay lots.
- Revolution Rail Co. is open through the end of the year, then closes for a couple of months before reopening in the spring.
Photos by the author