A train ride is exciting any time of year, but there’s something extra special about riding the rails as the holidays approach. If you have a railway enthusiast or two in your family, then we’ve got some exciting excursions for you to check out. Read on to find out where you can book your next (or first) scenic train ride—your kids may even find themselves sitting next to Santa.

Polar Express Portlandphoto: Rockin’Rita via flickr

Washington Park and Zoo Railway
This quick excursion is perfect for the littlest locomotive lovers in your household. There is a daytime zoo loop that offers a nice overview of the animals and the rides last approximately six minutes with the first departure of the day taking place at 10:30 a.m.

Insider Tip: In 2017 the education center will open and passengers will be able to reach it through a new Discovery Plaza near the Amur tiger habitat. The plaza will offer the opportunity to perk up with some coffee and catch a quick potty break.

4001 Sw Canyon Rd.
Online: www.oregonzoo.org

Mt. Hood Railroad
If your crew is looking for a real train experience, this it the ride to catch. This full-sized train will take you on a winding adventure through woods, orchards and vineyards where you will delight at the beauty of the changing season. Get ready for a loud ride because the train driver doesn’t hold back on the horn and provides an experience both you and your littles won’t soon forget.

Insider Tip: If your kids love The Polar Express, the movie then The Polar Express Train Ride won’t disappoint. Buy your tickets early for this seasonal experience. 

110 Railroad St.
Hood River
(800) 872-4661
Online: www.mthoodrr.com

Photo by Michael Brunk / nwlens.comphoto: Michael B. via flickr

Oregon Coast Scenic Railroad
During the summer this train takes its passengers from Garibaldi to Rockaway beach, offering breathtaking ocean views from the comfort of a train car. Come fall, the Fall Splendor Excursion is a must!  Travel along the Nehalem River and experience the colors and wonders of the changing season with your little travel partner. This trip departs from Wheeler and lasts approximately two hours.

Insider Tip: The Candy Cane Express departs in December and your little elves will not want to miss out on this ride. The excursion is festive and comes with hot chocolate, cookies and an opportunity to visit with Santa!

Information and Locations: www.oregoncoastscenic.org/contact.html
Tickets: Purchase Here.
Online: www.oregoncoastscenic.org

Mt. Rainier Railroad and Logging Museum
Located less than two hours away from Portland, just south of the majestic Mt. Rainier National Park in the town of Elbe, Washington, this train ride offers a one-of-a-kind steam train ride experience through the forests and across the glacial fed Upper Nisqually River. The ride stops at the Museum where your little train enthusiast can enjoy checking out the collection of steam logging locomotives and learning all about the history of the pioneers of railroad logging camps in the early to mid-1900’s. If you want to turn your trip into an overnight stay, there are family-friendly accommodations in the nearby town of Ashford, Wa. Consider staying in a rustic cabin or at a family-friendly lodge.

Insider Tip: November excursions include another version of The Polar Express. This ride is set the movie’s soundtrack and comes with hot chocolate, cookies and a reading of The Polar express. Santa will greet passengers when they arrive at “The North Pole.” It’s sure to become a family favorite.

54124 Mountain Hwy E.
Online: mtrainierrailroad.com

What is your favorite seasonal train ride? Share it with us in the comments section below.

-—Annette Benedetti