The Columbia Star Dinner Train is a whistle blast from the past. The train offers fine railroad-style dining from days gone by, complete with friendly waitstaff, white linens, real china and candlelight. Train buffs would be interested to know that the engines are a pair of retired Great Northern Railroad diesels from 1948 and 1953, while the passenger cars are genuine Southern Pacific Pullmans from 1938.
Meals are prepared right on the train, in a modern kitchen placed in a converted baggage car. The train can seat over 200 guests and can also be reserved for private excursions.
The Columbia Star operates year round, with a 7 p.m. dinner train on Friday and Saturday with a Sunday brunch train at 11:30 a.m. You can board the train 30 minutes before departure—and remember, there are no late arrivals!
Tickets for the evening train are $69.95 each for a 27-mile ride through rolling countryside that lasts up to three hours. You’ll get a freshly prepared four-course meal on your trip, with your choice of chicken, seafood, beef or a vegetarian entree—selections change each month. Each meal comes with a salad, appetizer and dessert. Drinks are extra and the Columbia Star serves soft drinks, wine, beer or mixed drinks.
Sunday’s brunch trip is $49 per person, but the ride is shorter—only an hour and a half long. The menu changes each month, but includes a selection of fruit, pastries and an entree such as quiche or French toast.
Click here to see the current menu offering on the Columbia Star.
If you go, you’ll need to reserve your table at least three days before your trip. Reservations are made over the phone, but you can check their availability online. Columbia is about a two-hour drive from St. Louis County and the train departs from 6501 North Brown Station Road, Columbia.
Please note that the passenger cars are vintage 1930s and not handicapped accessible. However, if you call in advance, the staff will explain what assistance it can provide. They ask that passengers dress for a nice evening, with collared shirts required for gentlemen. However, ladies should avoid flimsy footwear for safety reasons.
There are no children’s menus and no booster seats—the Columbia Star allows children to ride, but does not accommodate them. For this reason, a trip on the Columbia Star is recommended for adults only looking for an entertaining evening out.
One last note about rail dining: The old Pullman cars were fitted with tables for four, to maximize seating. If you’re traveling with just your date, expect to be seated facing another couple. The Columbia Star will allow you to reserve a private table for an extra $69.95—but you’re still just getting the two meals!