A train ride through the Pacific Northwest is spectacular any time of year, but it’s extra special throughout the fall and winter season. Think beyond The Polar express! Magical excursion by rail occur all throughout the end of the year. So grab your little railroad enthusiast and get ready to purchase your golden tickets to one of the season’s magical excursions. Read on to find out where you can book your first or next seasonal family train ride in Portland—your kids may even find themselves sitting next to Santa himself.

photo: Mt. Rainier Railroad and Logging Museum via yelp

Washington Park and Zoo Railway
This 6-minute excursion is perfect for the littlest locomotive lovers in your household. The daytime zoo loop offers a nice overview of the animals and the rides last just long enough for the wiggliest ones in your crew with the first departure of the day taking place at 10:30 a.m. While you can take this train ride all year long, the holidays just wouldn’t be the holidays in Portland with out a spin on the Zoolights run. This ride gives you the best view of the dazzling display of more than 1.5 million lights in the zoo. In addition to visiting elephants, mountain goats and other wildlife, you can ride the popular lighted train and carousel, and enjoy hot drinks and local food carts. Photos with Santa will be available for the little ones every evening through Dec. 24 starting Nov. 29.

4001 Sw Canyon Rd.
Rates: general $4 and $3.50 for members
Online: www.oregonzoo.org

photo: Patrick Dirden via Flickr 

Mt. Hood Railroad
Get an exceptional train experience on this awe-inspiring locomotive. The full-sized train takes passengers on a winding journey through woods, orchards and vineyards where they 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 you are looking for a magical holiday ride, then don’t miss The Train To Christmas Town in December. Buy your tickets early for this seasonal experience. 

110 Railroad St.
Hood River
Rates: Standard Class $45/adult,$40/child
First Class: $55/adult, $50/child
Diamond Class $65/adult, $60/child
(800) 872-4661
Online: www.mthoodrr.com

Chehalis Centralia Railroad & Museum
Whether you’re looking for a pumpkin train ride for October, a classic Polar Express experience or a chance to meet Santa while riding the rails, the Chehalis Centralia Railroad & Museum has you covered. This special experience will transport you back in time for an experience you will never forget. Step all aboard for a train ride through the beautiful Lewis County countryside!

1101 SW Sylvenus St,
Chehalis, WA
Rates: $38/all ages
Online: steamtrainride.com/the-polar-express-train/

photo: Tonya S. via yelp

Oregon Coast Scenic Railroad
During the the warm weather months, you may have enjoyed taking this train from Garibaldi to Rockaway beach, where breathtaking ocean views from the comfort of a train car were the icing on the cake. During the autumn months, the Fall Splendor Excursion takes experiencing the area’s natural beauty to the next level! As a passenger, you get to travel along the Nehalem River and take in 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.
Rates: $22/adult, $15/child
Online: www.oregoncoastscenic.org


Oregon Rail Heritage Center Holiday Express
From Nov. 29-Dec. 15,  you can join Santa Claus and his elves for a magical ride behind Portland’s famous steam locomotives. Vintage rail cars transport you along the Willamette River in the heart of the city. Trains travel on the Oregon Pacific Railroad along the Willamette River in SE Portland and he interiors of the passenger cars are decorated with garland, ornaments, and lights that will dazzle both little and big holiday lovers. Of course, the big treat is getting to share a ride with Santa on board! Book your seat now!

2250 SE Water Ave.
Rates: $22/adult, $16/child
Online: orhf.org/events/holiday-express/

photo: Michale B. via nwlens.com (via Flickr)  

Mt. Rainier Railroad and Logging Museum
Located only two hours away from Portland, just south of the stunning Mt. Rainier National Park in the town of Elbe, Washington, this train ride provides guests 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.

October adventures can be found aboard the PEANUTS™ The Great Pumpkin Patch Express where you and your young Linus can join Snoopy, and Charlie Brown. Passengers ride the train and read the book ‘It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown’ on their journey to the Most Sincere Pumpkin Patch, where guests are greeted by Charlie Brown and Snoopy. Family-friendly activities include face-painting, crafts, temporary tattoos, coloring pages, lawn games, PEANUTS™ gang photo ops, and trick-or-treating through a historic logging camp. Each child may also select their very own pumpkin to take home during the hour layover at the Pumpkin Patch. Children and adults are encouraged to wear their Halloween costumes for the trip!

If you want to turn your trip into an overnight stay and check out the Mt. Rainier area, 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.
Rates: $54/adult, $34/child
Online: mtrainierrailroad.com

-—Annette Benedetti

featured image: Train to Christmas Town


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