To be honest, I don’t know the last time I saw Santa in a sleigh. Nope, over the past several years, I’ve seen Santa arrive to greet crowds of believers in a fire truck, a police car, a helicopter, and a Porsche (really, Santa??).
So it was no surprise when my 5 year old came home from school telling me her friend Abby saw Santa on a train. And she’s absolutely right – there a few amazing Holiday Trains in Connecticut, where you and your kids can enjoy both your love of trains, and the holiday season! Watching the steam roll and waft in front of the train's headlight, while giant snowflakes fall will throw you back 60 years -- in the most wonderful, magical, 'It's a Wonderful Life' sort of way. For more holiday fun check out our CT Holiday Fun Guide.
Danbury Railway Museum, Danbury, CT
A $10 ticket includes a train ride, a visit with Santa in Toyland, and a small gift (for children). On Saturday, December 13th and 20th, trains run every 30 minutes between 12pm-3:30pm, and on Sunday, December 14th and 21st trains run every 30 minutes between 12:30pm-3:30pm. One night only, December 20th, there will be a special ride through their lighted railyard at 4:30pm.
120 White Street, Danbury, CT, 203.778.8337
Naugatuck Railroad, Thomaston, CT
Here, you have both day and nighttime options. Ride the Santa Express, Saturday and Sundays at 2pm in December. Enjoy the 1 hour and 2 minute train ride along the river, and enjoy watching your children visit with Santa and Mrs. Claus aboard the train. Tickets are $16/adults, and $14/children. Or, get the kids in their footie jammies and hop on board the Northern Lights Limited at 5pm and 7pm on weekends in December. Tickets are $25/person, and reservations are highly recommended.
242 East Main Street, Thomaston, CT, 06787, 203.283.7245
Shoreline Trolley Museum, East Haven, CT
Visit the Trolley Museum weekends in December to visit with Santa and enjoy some holiday cheer. Tickets are $10/adult and $6/child, and include all day admittance to the museum and multiple trolley rides. Between Thanksgiving and Christmas, the museum is open on weekends from 10:30am to 7pm, with trolleys running every 30 minutes. No need for reservations.
17 River Street, East Haven, CT 06512, 203.467.6927
Fairfield Museum and History Center, Fairfield, CT
If model trains are more to your taste, visit the Holiday Express Train Show at the Fairfield Museum and History Center. The show is open December 5th - January 4th. See website for hours each day. Come admire the amazing display of model trains running through a winter wonderland.
370 Beach Road, Fairfield, CT, 06824, 203.259.1598
Connecticut River Museum, Essex, CT
Visit the Connecticut River Museum to view their annual Holiday Train display. The museum is open daily from 10am-5pm, except Mondays. Tickets are $9/adult and $6/child (children under 6 are admitted free of charge). The Holiday Train display runs through February 17th, 2015.
67 Main Street, Essex, CT, 06426, 860.767.8269
Essex Steam Train (Valley Railroad Company), Essex, CT
This is, perhaps, the cream of the crop. If you're reading this in December, game over, unless you have luck finding tickets on Craigslist. Weekends sell out for the North Pole Express in September ... and the rest of the dates, soon after that. By December, you may still catch a ride on their daytime Santa Special (currently, it's sold out through Dec.22). Moral of the story, get on the mailing list, so you know when to get on the horn.
One Railroad Avenue, Essex, CT 06426, 860-767-0103
Happy Holidays to your and your little conductors!
Originally published on 12/18/12.