Santa Train Rides for Christmas and the Holidays

All Aboard for Special Holiday Trains in the Reno Area

Polar Express trains during the Christmas season.
••• Polar Express trains during the Christmas season. Photo © Stan White

Excursion train rides near Reno are fun any time, but they take on a magical effect during the holiday season. For these special excursion runs, our local railroads get into the spirit of Christmas and the holidays with lights and themes designed to delight children and adults alike.

Polar Express™ on the V&T Railroad - Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays, Sundays, November 20 through December 22, 2014. The special Polar Express™ excursions on the V&T during November and December give families and kids a chance to experience the holiday spirit just like in the movie of the same name.

There are three runs per day and tickets are going fast - get advance tickets online or you may be left at the station. For information, call (775) 687-7410 or toll-free at 1-800-NEVADA-1.

Santa Train at the Nevada State Railroad Museum - December 13, 14, 20, 21, 2014. Ride the Santa Train at the Nevada State Railroad Museum in Carson City. Fare for the Santa Train is only $3.00 per seat. Reservations are not required, but you can get early bird priority boarding tickets from the Museum Store (must purchase at least one day prior). First train departs each day at 9 a.m., last train leaves at 4 p.m. Bring the family to enjoy this special train ride on historic Virginia & Truckee Railroad equipment pulled by steam locomotive No. 25. The museum is open Friday through Monday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., and is located at the south end of Carson City (2180 S. Carson Street). Museum admission is $6 for adults, free for museum members and kids 17 and under.

Call (775) 687-6953 for more information. If you have a railroad buff on your shopping list, be sure to stop at the Museum store for railroad books, clothing, toys and many unique Nevada specialty items. Santa Train tickets are good for a 10% discount at the Museum Store.

V&T Candy Cane Express Holiday Trains in Virginia City - November 28 and 29, December 6, 7, 13, 14, 2014.

This holiday train is part of Christmas on the Comstock, a series of events (mostly family friendly) held during the holiday season in Virginia City. The trains make two runs per day (12 noon and 2 p.m.) between Virginia City and Gold Hill, with passengers being served cider, hot chocolate, and cookies and candy canes by the Candy Cane Sisters. You can buy advance tickets online or call (775) 847-0380. Tickets are $15 for adults, $7 for children 2 to 11, ages 2 and under free.

Santa Train at the Western Pacific Railroad Museum - December 6, 13, and 20, 2014. The Western Pacific Railroad Museum is located at 700 Western Pacific Way in Portola, CA, about an hour north of Reno. Santa trains will run from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. Admission is $10 per carload, or $5 per carload with a donation of at least 3 non-perishable food items for the local food bank. Santa and Mrs. Claus will be there. Passengers can enjoy free coffee, hot chocolate, cider, and cookies. Except for the Santa trains, the museum is closed for the winter. For more information, call (530) 832-4131.

Polar Express™ on the Nevada Northern Railway in Ely - Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays through December 27, 2014. Passengers board these special Polar Express™ excursions on the Nevada Northern Railway at 1100 Avenue A in Ely (on Highway 50 in eastern Nevada).

Should you be out that way during the holiday season, families and children can enjoy this festive experience. The licensed event seeks to recreate a trip to the North Pole just like in the movie. Tickets are $32 for adults, $16 for kids ages 4 to 12, and free for children 3 and under. Visit the Polar Express web page for train ride dates, times, and to get tickets online. For information, call toll-free at 1-866-407-8326.

More About Nevada and California Excursion Trains

All of the trains mentioned above also run regular excursions during the summer tourist season, but these aren't your only choices. Railroad buffs, and those looking for a fun family experience, will find several other excursion rail lines in both Nevada and nearby northern California. Whether it's steam or diesel powered, there is a train ride out there that you will enjoy.