All aboard! Each year, railroads across the U.S. roll out special holiday trains. They’re a fun and unique way for kids to meet Santa Claus, and they make a wonderful family holiday tradition! Here are 10 great options across the U.S.
1. Fillmore & Western Railway Company, Fillmore, CA: This railway has several holiday train options. You can ride the North Pole Express to the North Pole to meet Santa and his elves, enjoying cookies and chocolate milk along the way. Kids should wear their pajamas! You can ride the Christmas Tree Holiday Train to a Christmas tree farm to choose and cut down your own tree. Or, you can have dinner with Santa aboard a special Friday-night train on December 13 or 20. Click here for more information on all the holiday train options.
2. Royal Gorge Route Railroad, Canon City, CO: Have your children wear their coziest pajamas to ride Royal Gorge’s Santa Express Train. You’ll be treated to Christmas music, hot cocoa, and cookies aboard the train, where Santa’s elves will keep you entertained. Santa himself will make his way through the train to give a special holiday bell to every ticketed child. Upon arrival at the North Pole, kids will be awed by all of the decorations and lights—more than 17,000 in all!
3. Grapevine Vintage Railroad, Grapevine, TX: When you ride the North Pole Express, your experience will begin at the Historic Cotton Belt Depot platform. There, you’ll board the beautifully decorated Victorian Rail Coaches and be greeted by elves, minstrels, and carolers. Onboard, you will enjoy live entertainment and the reading of a Christmas story, and every child will receive a “We Believe” Silver Santa Bell. You will then return to a transformed platform that now leads to the North Pole. You’ll wind through a Christmas Tree Maze to a North Pole stage, where you’ll see a Christmas Show that will culminate with the arrival of Santa. Santa will share his Frosty Chocolate Snow Milk, served in a memory mug, to all children. Everyone will receive a voucher for a family photo with Santa.
4. North Shore Scenic Railroad, Duluth, MN: Travel from Fitgers to the Duluth Depot aboard North Shore Scenic Railroad’s new Christmas City Express Train. You’ll be treated to a reading of the new Christmas City Express story, hear festive music sung by carolers, and enjoy a visit from a very special guest!
5. Wisconsin Great Northern Railroad, Spooner, WI: What sets this holiday train ride apart from others? You get to have a pizza party with Santa during the two-and-a-half-hour ride! Passengers will also enjoy hot chocolate and holiday cookies on the way home.
6. Strasburg Rail Road, Strasburg, PA: Santa himself will climb aboard Strasburg Rail Road’s Santa’s Paradise Express and visit with families as they travel down the tracks to Paradise, PA and back. Riders will hear storybook readings of holiday classics, and children ages 3 to 11 will receive a gift from Santa and his helper. Visitors of all ages can also enjoy a ride aboard the Tinsel Trolley, a self-propelled motor car.
7. Essex Steam Train & Riverboat, Essex, CT: Hop aboard the Santa Special train to enjoy vintage decorations and visits from Santa and Mrs. Claus, Rudolph, and Pablo the Penguin. Each child will receive a special gift from Santa’s elves!
8. The Polar Express, various cities: Railways in 30 cities across the U.S. will bring the classic Christmas story The Polar Express, by Chris Van Allsburg, to life this holiday season. On their trip to the North Pole, riders will enjoy music from the movie version of the tale, as well as hot chocolate and cookies. Passengers will then be entertained by a reading of The Polar Express. Upon arrival at the North Pole, Santa will greet the children. Each child will receive their own sleigh bell, just like in the movie. Families are encouraged to wear their pajamas for the ride!