More and more tourist railroads are offering themed holiday train rides at special times of the year. Christmas trains -- and especially The Polar Express -- are the number one type of holiday train, but Easter Bunny Express runs and Halloween choo-choos are pulling out of the station too.
Holiday trains are extremely popular! Book well in advance.
What better time to ride the rails than the Holiday Season: in dozens of locations, specially decorated Christmas Trains pull out of the station with kids, hot cocoa, Santa, and elves on board.
"The Polar Express" is a beautifully illustrated children's book by Chris Van Allsburg (--also made into a movie --) about a child's train ride to see Santa at the North Pole. At many tourist railroads, families can have a "Polar Express" experience: a real-life holiday train ride that includes key elements of the story. Santa gives each child a souvenir silver sleigh bell.
Polar Express Photos
See photos of a Polar Express holiday train ride on the Grand Canyon Railway, in Arizona.
Halloween Train Rides
Halloween train rides are a relatively new trend: plan ahead, as many of these trains run only on a couple of nights or afternoons in October.
Families with young kids might want to hop on a Pumpkin Patch Express, that chugs along to a pumpkin patch where kids can pick out a pumpkin to take home. The Great Pumpkin Patch Express Train" is a special variety, featuring characters from the Peanuts comic strip.
Easter Train Rides
Every year brings more fun for families at Easter-- egg safaris at zoos, the Easter Bunny on ski slopes, Easter Egg hunts, etc. And at a number of tourist railways, the Easter Bunny rides the rails, and kids can get on board. Easter train rides are often called "Easter Bunny Express"; a special version with Peanuts comic strip characters is the "Easter Beagle Express".
Check out the Green Mountain Railroad in Vermont, for a repeat of this "White River Flyer" special holiday train: take a ride with mom, with optional brunch at a 1920's vintage hotel.