My family took advantage of a Groupon for the Red Caboose. I'd always heard of the place and had been curious about it, but had never stayed before. We stayed here the weekend after Labor Day 2013, after the holiday rush. It was a great experience for both me (I'm a big railroad fan) and our daughter, who has taken after me.
The Red Caboose is located smack dab in that interesting place in Lancaster County where Amish and Mennonite cultures meet with hard-core railroading. That makes this area interesting for everybody.
We stayed in the Lehigh Valley caboose, which seemed to have been updated with new windows and fixtures - contrary to some of the reviews here which describe old, beat-up interiors. Our caboose had a bunk bed and a queen bed with a new flat-screen TV with cable. My wife chose to sleep in one of the bunks the first night so our daughter could sleep with me, which she regretted later (more below). The second night we both slept in the queen bed.
There's a petting zoo on the grounds with goats, sheep, and lots of chickens and roosters. You can buy an ice cream cone full of feed for 50 cents in the hotel "lobby", but beware - those animals eat fast!
Speaking of roosters, our first night we had the air conditioner off because it was cool outside, and got up extra early thanks to said roosters. The second night we had the A/C on and couldn't hear the roosters in the morning.
Buggy rides are offered on the premises, and the hotel "lobby" (which is a separate arcade) has a gift shop and an arcade. Local pretzels and potato chips are also sold there, which is a nice little extra. Complimentary coffee with liquid creamer is also available in the lobby. (I hate powdered creamer - this is a huge thing for me when a hotel offers liquid creamer.)
We had breakfast in the "dining car" attached to the lobby, which rocks back and forth at times to imitate a real dining car ont he rails. It offered simple, filling food, what you'd expect in Amish country.
The highlight of the Red Caboose for me is that the Strasburg RR mainline runs about 10 feet from the end of the property, so you can sit on a bench or picnic table and watch #90 steam by several times a day. And, the SRR and Railroad Museum of PA are just down the road (almost, but not quite, within walking distance) so the Red Caboose is obviously the perfect place to stay if you're planning a visit there.
PROS: Stay in a caboose! I mean, how many places can you do that? Feed and pet the animals, talk to some Amish and Mennonite folks, enjoy the beautiful countryside. Movie nights on Friday and Saturday nights during the summer months - great for the kids. Friendly and helpful lobby and restaurant staff. So close to Strasburg RR you will feel the train go by. Close to SRR and RR Museum of PA. Constant stream of buggies going by on nearby roads if you like seeing them to confirm you're in Amish country.
CONS: Bunk bed mattresses were hard and uncomfortable. My wife had a hard time getting restful sleep the first night. Unusual check-out policy: You get charged $25 for each 15 minutes you stay in your caboose beyond your 11am checkout time. Gives a lot of incentive to get out on time. Vending machines not working (but money they stole from me was cheerfully refunded to me by the lobby staff).
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- The Red Caboose offers a unique Strasburg, PA lodging experience for families, couples, or train history enthusiasts. The Red Caboose Motel is located in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. We are surrounded by Amish Farms, The Strasburg Railroad, The Railroad Museum and many more Lancaster County attractions. The Red Caboose Motel features 46 rooms consisting of cabooses, a baggage car, and a post office car (many newly restored). Try our PA Dutch menu in one of our two authentic dining cars. ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- Red Caboose Motel, Restaurant And Gift Shop
- Red Caboose Motel, Restaurant & Gift Shop Hotel Strasburg
- Red Caboose Strasburg
- Red Caboose Hotel
- Red Caboose Motel, Restaurant & Gift Shop Ronks, PA - Lancaster County