It’s the time of the year for your little train engineer to enjoy holiday trains in and around Washington, DC, this holiday season. Many of the trains featured in the DC Area Moms’ Trains to See and Trains to Ride: The Ultimate Guide to Trains in the Washington, DC Area offer special holiday events. Our favorites are listed below.
9 Amazing Holiday Train Experiences
1. Holly TrolleyFest at the National Capital Trolley Museum
Take a streetcar ride with Santa at the National Capital Trolley Museum’s Holly TrolleyFest on December 2-3, 9-10, 16-17, and 23. Purchase tickets starting November 1! Reservations are required for ticketed admissions every 30 minutes from 11 am through 4 p.m.
The Museum is open for the Holly TrolleyFest from 11 am to 5 pm. Tickets include unlimited trolley rides. (Adults $10, Kids 2-17 $8, Under 2 free). Ride the Street Cars, Visit Santa, and see the Winter Garden Railway.
2. B&O Railroad Museum
A true gem year-round, the B&O Railroad Museum is also the Grand Dame of holiday trains. The Polar Express Train Ride is from November 24-26 & December 1-3, 8-10, and 15-19, 2023 at various times from 10 am to 7 pm. Tickets range from $52-$85.
3. The Polar Express at Western Maryland Scenic Railroad
Go on a 1-hour Polar Express journey to The North Pole with Western Maryland Scenic Railroad on December 8th, 9th, & 10th departing from Frostburg Station OR take a steam powered train on December 8th, 9th, 10th, & 18th – 24th. Inspired by the classic children’s book The Polar Express, get your golden ticket punched by the conductor, sip hot chocolate and cookies in your pajamas on your way to The North Pole, and go home with a silver sleigh bell from Santa. Advanced tickets (starting at $40) are required and available online. Children 2 and under are FREE! There are several options for the experience like coach class, deluxe class, table car class, lounge class, and dome class.
4. The North Pole Express at Potomac Eagle
Join Mrs. Claus for milk, cookies, and caroling on a journey to meet Santa on The North Pole Express at Potomac Eagle, where every child receives a gift on this 75 minute train ride. Book November 17th-19th, 24th-26th, December 1st-3rd, December 8th-10th, or December 15th-23rd. Experience the magic of the Christmas season as Potomac Eagle Scenic Railroad presents a Country Classic Christmas.
Availability varies by date but generally is at 3 pm, 5 pm, and 7 pm. General tickets are Adults $57, Kids (2-12) $47, and lap children under 2 are free—but need a ticket. First Class tickets are Adults $67, Kids (2-12) $57, and lap children under 2 are free—but need a ticket.
5. U.S. Botanic Garden
TheU.S. Botanic Gardenwill display their holiday trains outside again for all of us to enjoy. The display featuring the monuments will be inside. The holiday display will run from Thursday, November 23, through Monday, January 1, 2024. This is FREE and open to the public from 10 am to 5 pm indoors or outside in the garden.
6. Virginia Railway Express
Back this year, the VRE’s Santa Train is an incredible trip for just $5! This one-day excursion on December 9th, you won’t want to miss it! Tickets are available the Monday after Thanksgiving (November 27th) at 10 am (and sell out!).
7. Northern Central Railway of York
The Northern Central Railway offers several experiences this fall and winter. Hop aboard the Santa Express at various times December 2-3, 9-10, 16-17, and 22-23. Tickets are $39.99 for adults age 13 years and older and $26.99 for children ages 2-12. Or enjoy the Elf on the Engine on November 25th-26th only at various times. Or enjoy Fall Foliage Excursions NOW!
8. Walkersville Southern Santa Train
The Walkersville Southern Railroad offers an adorable Santa Train Experience November 24th, 25th, and 26th and December 3rd, 9th, 10th, and 17th at 11 am, 1:30 pm, and 4 pm. Tickets are requried and must be purchased in advance. Enjoy a Winter Express Train ride with Santa and Friends with the Ice Queen and Ice Princess on December 2nd & 16th at 11 am, 1:30 pm and 4 pm. Get tickets here!
9. Christmas at Strasburg Railroad
The Strasburg Railroad creates several train experiences for families to enjoy this holiday season. Santa Claus Limited runs Wednesday, Thursday, and Fridays in November and December. Santa Paradise Express is on weekends only and offers a visit with Santa and Mrs. Claus, a gift from Santa, a cookie, hot chocolate, and an atmosphere of fun with decor and musicians. The Night Before Christmas experience recreates “The Night Before Christmas” Poem. Santa is not aboard, but everyone gets milk and a cookie!
With the Christmas Tree Train, travel to Leaman Place Grove to choose and buy a Fraser Fir Tree (which they will deliver back to the station). Santa is not aboard, but enjoy hot cocoa and a cookie! Prices vary according to car chosen, ages, and other experiences like meals. New this year (and not on a train), enjoy a Breakfast or Dinner with Mrs. Claus in the Lefever Hall! Breakfast is Saturdays and Sundays at 8:30 am and dinner is at 6 pm on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday.
Enjoy these fantastic holiday train experiences with your kids and please tag us @dcmoms on Instagram!