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Old-Fashioned Fun: Local Holiday Trains

Nurture your holiday spirit — and thrill your family's train fanatics — with these throwback trips.

Blame it on Currier and Ives — or maybe The Polar Express — but there’s something about a train that can make even the Scroogiest member of your family full of the holiday spirit. Local railroads make the most of it this time of year, offering more trips on special holiday trains, face time with Santa, and even a chance to fetch a fir tree while you’re out.


Looking to make some memories this year? Here are some prime places to get on board.

Strasburg Rail Road

301 Gap Road, Ronks


Chances are, you’ve been here before if someone in your family likes trains (maybe it was you, as a kid — Strasburg has been thrilling visitors since 1958). The 45-minute Santa’s Paradise Express is worth another trip. It’s filled with sweet surprises, from live musicians and carolers to a photo opportunity with Santa himself.


These daytime trains run frequently, so there’s plenty of steam engine action for the kids to watch. And there’s enough to do here to keep everyone busy for several hours. If you want to make a full day out of it, the Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania is across the street.


Strasburg’s Night Before Christmas trains are sold out for 2016, but bookmark this for next year. The railroad also runs a Christmas tree train in early December.


Santa’s Paradise Express runs December 10, 11, 17, and 18, multiple times each day. Tickets start at $18 for adults, $11 for children ages 2 to 11, and $2 for children under 2.


#Santa is on board! #mainlineparent

A photo posted by Main Line Parent Magazine (@mainlineparent) on

New Hope & Ivyland Railroad

32 W. Bridge St., New Hope


The North Pole Express has all the trimmings: it’s a 60-minute round trip with hot cocoa, cookies, and Santa and Mrs. Claus. Every child gets a gift, and there’s caroling and music, too. And you’re already in New Hope, so there are lots of fun things to do in the area before or after your train trip.


The trains run multiple times daily through December 31, except Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. Tickets start at $48.95 for adults, $46.95 for children, and $14.95 for infants.

West Chester Railroad

230 E. Market St., West Chester


Santa’s Express is a 90-minute trip through the bucolic Chester County countryside. Santa rides along to the Glen Mills station, where passengers can get off and explore — and get their picture taken with Santa. Everyone gets a gift, too!


Trips are sold out for December 10 and 11, but the December 17 and 18 trips are still open. Tickets are $23 for adults, $17 for children ages 2 to 12, and $7 for toddlers between the age of nine months and 23 months.


Need a Christmas tree? The railroad’s Christmas tree train has its last trip of the year December 10. Santa sits this one out, but the 8 am train offers coffee, hot chocolate, and doughnuts, and the chance to pick your own tree for $40 (cash only) at Wiggins Tree Farm. Tickets are $20 for adults and $15 for kids ages 2 to 12 (children under 2 ride free).


Photograph courtesy of Strasburg Rail Road.


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