There is something about trains that evokes nostalgia at Christmastime. It could be stirring up childhood memories of building a model train set under the twinkling tree lights. Maybe it is a reminder of that "coming home for the holidays" idea, where folks would arrive at the train station, arms filled with Christmas packages for family at home. Whatever the reason might be, many railroads in the tri-state area hold events to bring back that old-fashioned holiday tradition. At many of these special outings, families can ride a real locomotive with Santa Claus, hear Christmas stories, sing carols, sip hot chocolate and admire the views of the passing countryside. Children are even invited to wear their pajamas at some of these events!
We have rounded up a list of railroads hosting holiday-themed trains of all kinds. Some of these are located more than an hour's drive from Philadelphia, but can make for a fantastic holiday outing. All aboard for some Christmas fun!
North Pole Express
November 11, 12, 18, 19, 20, 21 and November 24- December 31, 2017
New Hope & Ivyland Railroad
32 W. Bridge Street
New Hope, PA
Ride the train with Santa and enjoy special treats on this holiday event running various dates and times (including weekdays) through January.
Saturdays and Sundays from November 18 through December 23, 2017 and also on November 24, 2017
West Chester Railroad
230 E. Market Street
West Chester, PA
Passengers join Santa on weekends through December for a ride through Chester County on this festive train, which also includes live music. Another fun option for families is the Christmas Tree Train to Wiggins Farm to cut down their own tree.
Santa’s Paradise Express
November 24-26, December 2, 3, 9, 10, 16, and 17, 2017
301 Gap Road
Santa visits with children on the train as they journey back and forth to Paradise, PA. Families can also enjoy the Lancaster County countryside and holiday spirit when they ride the Christmas Tree Train and the Night Before Christmas Train.
Santa's Polar Bear Express Train
November 24-26, December 2, 3, 9, 10, 16-23, 2017
The Colebrookdale Railroad
103 E. Third Street
Children can deliver their wish lists to Santa on this 2-hour train ride, as well as join in caroling weekends in December. Brunch and lunch train options are available. On select evenings, passengers can wear their pjs and ride the Night Before Christmas Train to hear the classic story.
The Polar Express
November 24-26 December 1, 2, 3, 8, 9, 10, 15, 16, and 17, 2017
The Delaware River Railroad Excursions
99 Elizabeth Street
Children can wear their pajamas and enjoy hearing a reading of "The Polar Express." A visit with Santa completes the journey. Tickets often sell out, so get them early!
Santa Claus Express
November 25, 26, December 2, 3, 9, 10, 16, and 17, 2017
Wilmington & Western Railroad
2201 Newport Gap Pike
Each child is greeted by Ol' St. Nick and given a treat as they ride this antique steam locomotive weekends through December. Families can also purchase tickets for a ride on the Holiday Lights Express and see homes decorated along the way.
The Santa Express
Saturdays and Sundays from November 25-December 23 plus December 12, 14, 19, 21, 2017
Cape May Seashore Lines
Reading Ave. & Mill Road
Be sure to bring your letters to deliver directly to Santa as he walks through the train to visit with each child.
Santa Claus Special
December 2-3, 2017
Wanamaker, Kempton & Southern Railroad
42 Community Center Drive
Children can hop aboard the train for a memorable journey with Santa, Mrs. Claus, and the elves. Friday, December 2nd is a special evening train featuring Storytime with Mrs. Claus.
Photo courtesy of West Chester Railroad.