The tickets for a coach ride on the train were under $10 per person so we got tickets and headed to downtown Raleigh. We bought the tickets online the night before although I think you can get them at the station. Once we got to the station we had to check in and pick up the actual tickets so leave at least 15 minutes from the time you get to the station get your tickets and head out to the platform. There were no lines or security or anything after getting tickets, so you don't have to worry about waiting there. Just head out to the platform and wait to get on. We brought an umbrella stroller and easily fit it next to our seat. I think bigger strollers could be left near the train doors or put with the baggage, but you would have to check with the train station to check about that.
My boys absolutely loved seeing the train pull up and riding on the train to Raleigh. The train ride was only about 1/2 an hour, so my older son was entertained the whole way watching the conductor come through and watching everything go by out the window. My younger (2 year old) son didn't have quite as much focus and got a bit squirmy on the ride, but we brought out the snacks and a good ride was had by all.
Once we got there it was an easy stroller walk to the museums where we had a fantastic day. We walked back and took the 4:50 train home. While the museum was fun, when the boys were asked about their day, the most memorable parts were definitely the train rides.
What we liked: We loved how close the train was to sites in Raleigh. That way we didn't have to worry about catching a bus once we got to Raleigh to get somewhere. In addition, we loved the experience. The boys are so interested in trains at this age, so we were glad we could actually let them ride on one. In addition, you don't have to just go to Raleigh. The Amtrak can take you to Burlington, Greensboro, Cary, Charlotte, or even DC.
What we would change: I definitely wouldn't go on the train if you have somewhere that you have to be by a certain time. While the morning train was on time, the afternoon train was almost an hour late getting back to Durham as a result of track work and other malfunctions. It's not a big deal, unless you have a schedule to keep. In addition, you might want to get your tickets in advance during the school year because field trips can fill up the train and keep you from getting tickets when you want them.
Website and other important information:
Raleigh Train station address: 320 West Cabarrus Street, Raleigh, NC 27601
Durham train station address: 601 West Main Street Suite 103 Durham, NC 27701
(A view of the Amtrak train pulling in the station)