The Kansas Belle Dinner train in Baldwin City, Kansas is a fun experience you don’t want to miss!
It’s a fun train ride that takes you into the glorious past of the American rails, circa 1945. Kansas Belle is a dinner train located in Baldwin City, Kansas, one of the state’s best kept secrets. We had an incredibly good time. I had never even heard of it until my son and his new bride gifted us a pair of tickets. All we had to do was schedule our trip. I was pretty surprised to find out what an exceptional experience they offered. They have taken old railroad cars from the 1940s and converted them into dinner cars. But they have taken it another step further by hosting mystery dinners in some of their cars, too. Since this was our first time on a dinner train, we chose to just ride, eat and enjoy the scenery. Some of the mystery dinner guests from other cars came to look at the car we were in. Greta Garbo and Taft looked as if they were having a very good time. We were put in the Rose Creek dining car, formerly one of the cars the Canadian National Railroad used in service by Via. It was built in 1947. The easiest way to check out all they have to offer and to make reservations is to visit their website, Kansas Belle.com. The meals are ordered at the time you make the reservations. Their menu options are at the website, too. The history is also worth reading a bit about so you can appreciate what went into taking these antique railroad cars and transforming them into an awesome destination for unique entertainment. This Kansas Belle dinner train experience also offers mystery dinner if you want an even more fun ride beyond beautiful scenery. Just locate Baldwin City, Kansas on your map and drive on in!
The Rose Creek Dining Car
I’m just going to share our experience with you in the Rose Creek dining car. When you get to the platform you are greeted by the conductor and the owner. They get you all checked in and then your waitress leads you into the train and shows you your seat.
So let’s board this train!
Just walk up these steps and take a right and there you are, in a lovely rose colored dining car. The tables are all covered with white tablecloths and four pretty chairs at each table. They use beautiful dishes that I believe were accurate for the period and rose colored napkins accented each plate.
Our waitress, Torri, came and took our drink orders. They have a very nice selection of wines and beers and even a few cocktails. This is all done before the dinner train even left the station.
I picked a Shiraz to go with the steak medallions we had ordered for dinner. But it’s not dinner time just yet. There was a group who had some car trouble on the road and they called to see if they would hold the train for them a few minutes. How do I know this? Because they announced it over the intercom that we would be leaving a few minutes late to give these people time to get there. I thought that was so nice. But I guess you can do that when you’re the only train on the track!! We ended up pulling out about twenty minutes late is all. It’s just nice to know that they will do that. It was a two and half hour drive for us from Wichita and we cut it kind of close ourselves.
While we waited the announcer came on over the intercom and gave us a brief history of the train and kind of cut up with the guests a little, too. I later learned he was the owner. He was telling about the various cars and explained to the mystery dinner guests a little something about what they had in store for them too. I was glad we were just going to ride that afternoon, but I think the mystery dinner might be fun to do sometime as well.
Here we go.
When we got to our table, they even had place cards printed for us. That was a nice touch. Dave picked them up and had me put them in my purse as a little token of the trip. This car was impressively beautiful and the etched windows that separated into two seating areas added a little atmosphere.
The first course was big Greek Salad and it was very good. I also ordered some coffee that was really amazing. I asked if it had some “?” in it and the waitress said I was the first person she’d met who figured out right away what the unique flavor was. I complimented the owner on his creative choice, but he made me promise not to tell what it was.
The first window is a winter scene with pine trees and a little stream. There wasn’t anybody seated at that table.
The one behind Dave is some pretty flowers. Dave was looking at the wine list while we were waiting to leave the station and later really enjoyed his meal. The steak medallions were cooked just right and the roasted potatoes were out of this world good. I loved the green beans, but Dave likes his really cooked down.
I didn’t get a picture of the Strawberry Cheesecake, though.
There weren’t that many people the dinner train the day we were there, so it was pretty quiet. There was a couple behind me and a table of four across from them. Then way back in the corner, sat another group of four people who made my day.
A Great Bonus!
As many of my readers know, I was an exchange student to Germany back in 1975, which is where I had my first train experience. I loved Germany so much, I joined the Army that same year, going off to bootcamp in the Spring after I graduated. Eventually, I got orders for Germany and that is when I really learned to love riding the trains. I was pretty independent. It didn’t bother me a bit to get all dressed up on a Saturday, go to the Bahnhof all by myself and buy a first class train ticket to somewhere I had never been before. A few times I even spent the weekend in one of my mystery destinations. It’s one of the things I miss most about that time in my life. I had mentioned it once to Chase and he remembered! That’s how I ended up on this little excursion. He’s so thoughtful.
So imagine my surprise and delight when I heard an entire family sitting in the back of the train all speaking German. It just made the experience so perfect. We were in the last car, so I ventured towards the back of the train to see what it looked like from the little back porch thing. It was so awesome to just be able to stand out there in the open air and watch the world go by. When I was going back to my table, I just couldn’t resist telling them in my very rusty German— “it is so beautiful back there.” The shocked look on their face to hear an American speaking to them in German made me snicker all the way back to my seat.
Apparently, my German wasn’t as bad as I thought because in the course of the excursion, we managed to strike up a conversation with each other and I learned that they were from Stuttgart! That’s the same city I was stationed in. They knew the place where I had been stationed. It’s closed now. (sad face) I asked them if they knew of a really nice restaurant somewhere near where I was called, “Der Schiff”. They weren’t sure but they started talking among themselves. Well, it’s a small world, that’s all I can say. The young mother showed me some photos of her sister’s wedding reception and that’s the very place I was talking about. I especially remembered the stained glass windows. Of all people and all the times we could have been on this train with this family from Omaha no less! He was stationed at Panzer Kaserne and that’s how they met. Her parents were visiting from Germany for a couple of weeks. It was an awesome happenstance that almost brought me to tears, because I was so happy to relive a few memories of a place I loved so much.
As the train was rattling down the track we could see clouds forming off in the distance. There were thunderstorms all around us, but it never rained on us. Thunderstorms are a signature feature of Kansas almost as wheat and the Jayhawks. My favorite one was the flag over the rock quarry.
All the way through the trip they were playing 40s music, too; everything from Glenn Miller to Bob Hope. It was a very relaxing trip and a whole lot of fun for us. The people were all very nice and it appeared as if the owner made an effort to stop and talk to everyone. They are all very proud of their little train and rightly so. It’s such a great idea and just some good clean fun on a hot summer afternoon. By the way, it was air conditioned.
Try it, you’ll like it!
So if you’re looking for a unique experience and need to get away for a day trip, you really need to check this out. These people work very hard to provide an excellent experience. I would like to also encourage anyone who decides to give this a try, please tip your servers. If you enjoy it half as much as we did, they’re worth that customary 20% tip. I hope you enjoyed reading this blog. Words cannot convey what a special gift this train ride was.
Thank you Chase and Julie for thinking of it.