If you are looking for a North Pole experience right here in Maryland than this is the article for you to read! Our family took a weekend getaway to Western Maryland for train-tecular time! My boys are obsessed with the Polar Express and have been asking me all year to take them on a holiday train ride. A friend recommended Western Maryland Scenic Railroad and after doing my research it seemed like a perfect match for our family. Included in this article I will share with you travel tips on attractions, lodging, dining and travel.
It is approximately a two and half hour drive from Southern Maryland. Our train fanatic friends suggested that we stop in Hagerstown. It’s little more than half way but a great place to stop. On our way up we visited The Round House museum. It was great to get out and stretch our legs and get fired up for the big event of the night. On the way back from Cumberland we stopped at the Train Room and had two dining experiences worth sharing! We also took a locals advice to stop at The Charlie Brown Christmas Festival while in Hagerstown. So we will include information on all these stops too!
WESTERN MARYLAND SCENIC RAILROAD
Did you know that Western Maryland Scenic Railroad offers a special holiday ride Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays November 26th thru December 18th? This North Pole experience will take passengers young and old on journeys aboard restored antique rail cars. Passengers can use their imaginations to make believe they are traveling to the North Pole (cough, cough… Frostburg.)
This festive journey is sure to put you in the holiday spirit as you listen to holiday music and hear the tale of the “North Pole Express” all in a beautiful decorated coach. The book read is unique to this excursion as it was written by a former Western Maryland Scenic Railroad employee Amanda Palmer. During a one hour layover at the North Pole, cookies and hot chocolate are served. Children are invited to meet Santa and receive a small present!
- Make reservations to spend the night at the Fairfield Inn. The parking lot is free at the hotel and is walking distance to the station.
- Dress in pajamas to make the experience extra fun. Also, once the ride ends they will already be dress for bed!
- Come early so you can explore the train themed play ground in front of the station, gift shop and take photos.
- Make sure you pick up your tickets at the ticket office at least thirty minutes prior to boarding.
3 Canal Street
Cumberland , MD 21502
The Roundhouse is the perfect place to start your train-tecular weekend getaway. The museum has been transferred into a winter wonderland where you can view their featured holiday display “Trains of Christmas.” This festive four level layout has three o scale rails operating both diesel and steam trains. Including everyone’s favorite the Polar Express. This was the first display kids saw entering the exhibits on the first level. They were enamored and left speechless watching trains chug along the tracks for a long time.
After pulling them away to explore the rest of the first floor we walked in to the back room to discover they have a train simulator. I think my husband was equally as geeked out as the kids to pretend to be an engineer.
We made our way upstairs and it was like we had died and gone to train heaven. I was amazed at how the whole room filled model train displays. I was especially impressed with the train layout in the center of the room. It was placed lower for children to walk around and admire. Even more exciting, it has buttons the kids can push to operate the trains!
Also, on the second floor are three wooden railroad train tables for kids to play at. Despite that we have a train table at home this is a ways a popular feature my children love at train museums.
I’d like to add what I love best about this museum is that there a lot of staff/volunteers walking around to talk to you about the displays. I learned a lot from the gentlemen there the day I went. I had a feeling that they were just collectors but have worked on trains too! So my biggest tip would be to talk to the staff. They are a wealth of information. Leave your stroller in the car. If you like to collect train themed pins for your hat they have a great collection. It’s in an ideal location to also watch real trains in operation right from the parking lot.
Christmas at the Roundhouse runs from November 25, 2016-February 26, 2017
Open Friday, Saturday and Sunday 1PM-5PM
Open Monday thru Friday (12/26-12/30) 1PM- 5PM
(Closed for holidays on December 24, 25, 31 and January 1)
$5.00 for Adults
$ .50 for children 4 through 12 years
Free for children 3 years and under
296 S. Burhans Blvd (US Rt. 11)
P.O. Box 2858
Hagerstown, MD 21741
THE TRAIN ROOM
The train room is an amazing hobby store that will make any train lover feel like a kid in a candy shop! If you are an avid collector or just getting started this is the place to visit for all your train collecting needs. Don’t worry even if you aren’t looking to purchase a new train or accessories there is still an amazing collection of antique model trains that you won’t want to miss. I was astonished by the train layout and collector’s items. This should definitely be on your bucket list of places to stop while you are on your trip.
Monday- Saturday 9-5
$1 Children ages 3-12
360 S Burhans Blvd
Hagerstown, MD 21740
CHARLIE BROWN CHRISTMAS FESTIVAL
While you are in Williamsport make your way over to The Town of Williamsport’s for their 4th Annual Charlie Brown Christmas Celebration to be held at Springfield Farm Barn. It is open for one more weekend! If you make a make a getaway this weekend it runs December 8th and 9th from 3:00 – 8:00 pm.
While at the festival you will have a chance to admire variety of Christmas trees decorated by different organizations, see a model train set up featuring a Peanuts theme and even get pictures with Santa. If that wasn’t enough to convince you may be taking a horse & buggy ride or listening to live holiday performances will!?! This is a magnificent display of holiday spirit and it’s a FREE community event!
Just remember, while this event is beautiful, it is inside a restored barn in “Decem-brrrr”, so it’s going to be cold! There will be space heaters to offer some warmth, but make sure to dress warm. Also while in Williamsport from Springfield Farm you can see a drive-thru lights display. Leave a donation in the box and drive through the park that is decorated in lights.
Location: 12 Springfield Lane, Williamsport, MD 21795
While researching places to eat in Hagerstown this Schmankerl Stube came up. I thought the name sounded so interesting and the food enticing we stopped for lunch. It was the best decision we could have ever made. My family is German so I can be a little picky when it comes to German cuisine. Everything we had from soup to dinner and specialty beverages to dessert were amazing. I was also impressed with how accommodating they were to families. They had a kids menu, high chairs and even a changing station in the bathroom! Those with food allergies will feel welcomed here as they have a special menu for those with common allergies: gluten dairy, nut, etc. The restaurant was decorated beautifully. I thought it was awesome that the waitresses where traditional costume. All there food is handmade in house. Even the desserts!
58 South Potomac Street
This was a great mom and pop pizza shop! This traditional thin crust pizza with homemade sauce is extra tasty. If you are looking for an appetizer I recommend the garlic knots.
Make sure you order a salad just so that you can sample their homemade ranch that is just heavenly. This restaurant is right around the corner from the Charlie Brown Christmas Festival.
10 E Salisbury St,
Williamsport, MD 21795
What a treat to stay in hotel located right in downtown historic Cumberland, Maryland. This is hotel is ideal for families. The bedrooms are clean and spacious, breakfast is included in your stay and there a awesome in-door pool. Did I mention that it is also walking distance from the Western Maryland Scenic Railroad Station? It was extra special staying at the Fairfield in over the holidays as the lobby is decorated in holiday style.
21 Wineow St,
Cumberland, MD 21502
***The Playful Parent does not receive payment to write articles, all information and opinions shared are my own. Discounts and complimentary admission is always a plus but not a requirement. I enjoy writing articles about my families experiences so that parents feel encouraged to get out and try something new with their kids.***
If you liked this article, I also recommend reading: https://theplayfulparent.org/2016/12/02/christmas-train-cation-2016/