Ticket to Ride: Streetcar vs. Trolley

5/4/2018 - Tricia Steele Andrews

Downtown, Family-Friendly
Kenosha, WI is home to both an electric Streetcar system and a rubber-wheeled trolley
Kenosha, WI is home to both an electric Streetcar system and a rubber-wheeled trolley
Kenosha, WI is home to both an electric Streetcar system and a rubber-wheeled trolley
Kenosha, WI is home to both an electric Streetcar system and a rubber-wheeled trolley
Kenosha, WI is home to both an electric Streetcar system and a rubber-wheeled trolley

There are a lot of ways to enjoy our special city, view beautiful Lake Michigan, and get around Kenosha but two unique ways are riding the Lakefront Trolley and the Electric Streetcar. Both of these modes of transportation are fun, affordable, and family friendly! My family really looks forward to any opportunity we have to take a ride on one of these historic vehicles and I am sure yours will too. But do you know the difference? Locally, the main distinction between the two is how the vehicles are powered and where they drive.

Streetcar - on an electricity-powered track
Kenosha is proud to boast a fleet of seven operating PCC Streetcars. Each car pays homage to a city that once had streetcars during the 1940s and 1950s, including the popular yellow Cincinnati car and the green/white San Francisco car. Kenosha was ahead of its time, being the first 21st Century American city to rediscover the benefits of this street railway system. On June 17, 2000, Kenosha welcomed home these wonderful, pollution-free vehicles to an abbreviated route around the Downtown area. However, from 1903 to 1932 streetcars were the popular way to get around Kenosha!

The Streetcars operate 7-days a week, throughout the year, with varying times according to season. Children 4 and younger ride for FREE, ages 5 to 12 pay only $.50, and young adults/adults aged 13 and older ride for $1. All day passes can be purchased for just $3.50, or you can also use your City of Kenosha bus pass to transfer onto a streetcar. 

The route for the Streetcars encompasses the length of over 10 city blocks between HarborPark on Lake Michigan and the Metra Train Station. Along the route you can easily take in the views of Lake Michigan and across the harbor to Simmons Island, HarborPark and the Sculpture Walk, and the Southport Lighthouse and North Pier Lighthouse, and two historic districts, and plenty of popular spots in Downtown Kenosha. 

Interested in shopping? The route passes lots of great places to peruse including K9 Kibble, Mike Bjorn’s Clothing, and on Saturdays the Kenosha HarborMarket. Looking to satisfy your taste buds? Check out Choo Choo Charlie’s, Scoops Ice Cream, Robin’s Nest Cakery, Trolley Dogs, Wine Knot, and Mike’s Chicken & Donut Bar. If you want to do activities the whole family can participate in make sure to stop off at the Dinosaur Discovery Museum, Kenosha Public Museum, and Civil War Museum. Need to mail a letter or pick up some stamps and shipping supplies? The Streetcar has you covered as it passes right by the Post Office. Best of all, it also runs past the Kenosha Area Convention & Visitors Bureau’s Downtown Visitor Information Center! Here their very helpful and friendly staff can help you (Monday thru Friday from 8:00 am to 4:30 pm) find all the wonderful places and events that you can enjoy in Kenosha – and arm you with coupons, brochures, maps, and more.

Trolley - on city streets via rubber wheels
The Lakefront Trolley provides an even larger route for you to enjoy and get around town in. Operating from Spring through the end of the year several days a week, it will take you from Carthage College on the north end, to Kemper Center on the south side. Prices are the same as the streetcar fares.

While part of the trolley route is the same as the streetcar, a ride on the trolley will give you an opportunity to stop at art galleries, two historic districts, Lemon Street Gallery, Left of the Lake Gallery, Re:Vision Gallery, ArtWorks, and the Anderson Arts Center. If you want to make your own art, Alpaca Art is on the route, too, for open pottery painting! In addition to the Kenosha Public Museum and Civil War Museum, you can get to know everything you ever wanted to know about Kenosha by making a stop at the Kenosha History Center or even climb the Southport Lighthouse. You can stop for a cup of joe at Harborside Common Grounds or at The Coffee Pot and catch up with friends in their cozy atmospheres, or enjoy a Long Island Ice Tea at Boathouse Pub & Eatery or a famous hot beef sandwich at tg’s Restaurant & Pub. The trolley can even be your mode of transportation to three Kenosha beaches!

The options on these two routes are endless, unique, and fun. Whether you want to spend the day exploring and learning more about Kenosha and its history, eating a good meal, taking in breathtaking views, exploring lakefront events, or just enjoying the company of friends and family you can accomplish it all while rolling around on two of Kenosha’s finest sets of wheels!

Tricia Steele Andrews

Community Blogger

Devoted Mom & Wife. Fourth generation Kenoshan. Lover of all things natural & organic. Passions include time with family & friends, gardening, country music, libraries, art, animals, & ancestry!