The Playful Parent



As a mom of three boys who love locomotives; trains happen to be a big deal in our home! I hope our years of experience and adventure, help you find a holiday train ride or event that fits your families needs.  Please keep in mind that with the growing popularity of holiday train rides; it’s important to book your excursion as soon as possible. Some train rides have already sold out!




November 25-27 & December 2-4, 9-11 & 16-19, 2022

Climb aboard The Polar Express to create a Christmas memory that you and your family will cherish forever! Come in your pajamas as a family to watch the live performance of The Polar Express. Once on the train, the classic Christmas tale will be performed and little ones will have the opportunity to meet Santa and receive their first gift of Christmas! Santa’s helpers will greet you upon arrival to the North Pole, where you can take pictures with Santa and have lots of holiday fun.




Holly Trolley Fest

December 3, 2002-December 18, 2022

The National Capital Trolley Museum, open since 1969, not only provides a chance to learn about historical streetcars in the District, but also an opportunity to take a trolley ride in one of eleven original cars! On select weekends, the Museum will feature Holly Trolley Fest with toy trains and Santa riding on streetcars!

Ticket Link



Santa Train

November 26 & 27 and December 3, 4, 10, 11, 17 & 18 – 11 AM, 1:30 PM & 4 PM (Dec 3 & 17  – 11 AM & 1:30 PM only)

Enjoy a holiday train ride and visit with Santa on the Walkersville Southern Railroad Santa Train! The railroad’s regular scenic excursion becomes a little more magical during the holidays, and this specialty train ride is one you don’t want to miss!

Ticket Link

Winter Express With Santa & Friends

December 3 & 17 – 4 PM & 6:30 PM

Santa will be joined by some magical friends for a Christmas celebration unlike any other! Join us as our special guests perform the most recognizable songs on our platform, followed by a 1 hour and 10 minute train ride filled with personal visits from our special guests and on-board entertainment. Santa will also have a small surprise for each child. We are so excited to be partnering with Sew Classy Royal Events to bring you this event. Children are encouraged to dress up! Private Caboose rentals available. (December 3 – Beauty & Beast/December 17 – Ice Queen & Ice Princess)

Ticket Link


Christmas Wonderland Express

Nov 24-Dec 23, 2017

Make your way through the mountains on the Western Maryland Railroad this holiday season! The Christmas Wonderland Express is a 3-hour excursion that includes a 1-hour layover, where riders will enjoy all kinds of Christmas merriment including cookies, hot chocolate, and of course, a visit with Santa, Mrs. Claus, and all the elves!




Steam Train Ride
Busch Gardens, Williamsburg, VA

November 11 2022 – January 8, 2023

Christmas Town is our favorite family tradition. We love seeing the theme park in lights, attending spectacular holiday shows, visiting with Santa, riding the train and even watching the Polar Express toy train set up.

Ticket Link



Winter Wonderland at Burke Lake Park

Fairfax Station, VA

Dec 3, 4, 10, 11, 17 & 18, 2022

Hop aboard the Holiday Express for a train trip through the park, set sail on the USS Rudolph, or snuggle up on the Snowman’s Wagon Ride! Plus, guests are invited to take a spin on the Caroler’s Carousel and test their skills with Gingerbread Man’s Golf. And lastly, stop by to let Santa know how good you’ve been this year, and treat yourself to s’mores, hot chocolate, spiced cider, and candy canes!

Ticket Link



Santa Train

Alexandria, VA

December 5, 8, 12 & 19, 2022

Head on down to Alexandria, VA for a delightful train ride with Santa and Mrs. Claus! This annual round-trip excursion hosted by Whistle Stop Hobbies departs King Street Station and travels to Manassas, VA. Tickets go on sale October 29, 2022, and are almost sold out completely!




The Santa Train

Dillwyn, VA

December 3, 10 & 17, 2022

Climb aboard a James River Rambler alongside Santa for a 45-minute excursion. Sponsored by the Old Dominion Chapter of the National Railway Historical Society, there’s no better way to get up-close and personal with Virginia rail history than by taking the family on a winter train ride!




Santa Train- Operation Lifesaver

Multiple Locations: Burke, Fredericksburg, Manassas, Spotsylvania, & Woodbridge, VA

Dec 10, 2022

A few weeks before Christmas, families are invited to climb aboard a VRE train with Mr. and Mrs. Santa Claus to bask in the holiday spirit! Santa’s helpers also join the ride, passing out candy canes, coloring books, and making the day a magical adventure! This event also serves to remind families of the importance of rail safety via the Operation Lifesaver program.

Ticket Link



Santa Express & Elf on the Engine 
Select days Nov 24-Dec 23, 2017

Climb aboard the Northern Central Railway and enjoy one of many holiday-themed rides this season! From a train ride that takes you to a Christmas tree farm to a magical Santa sing-along excursion, these are one-of-a-kind memorable experiences for the whole family!

Ticket Link



Santa’s Paradise Express Train

November – December 2022

A Christmas tradition for over 60 years continues at the historic Strasburg Rail Road. Choose from Santa’s Paradise Express, Night Before Christmas Train, “Santa Claus Limited”, or the Christmas Tree Train.

Santa Claus Limited — This is our regular 45-minute steam excursion but with Santa Claus on board running Wednesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays during the day. The property is decorated for Christmas. 

Santa Paradise Express — this is the 60+ year tradition of the Strasburg Rail Road. A 45-minute excursion train ride with Santa on board, a gift from Santa, a picture opportunity with Santa, professional carolers, professional musicians, Value Added attractions (when open), a Christmas market, and a visit with Mrs. Claus are all included! First Class guests receive complimentary hot cocoa and a cookie. This experience runs every Saturday and Sunday from November 19 to December 24.

Night Before Christmas — This very special train recreates the excitement and anticipation of Christmas Eve. Clement Clarke Moore’s classic poem, “The Night Before Christmas,” comes alive as the train rolls along. All guests receive complimentary milk and a cookie. Each train car has its own professional reader/performer to entrain on the train ride. Santa is NOT aboard this train. This runs Thursday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday evenings.

Christmas Tree Train — For that special Currier and Ives Christmas experience, take a ride aboard Strasburg Rail Road’s Christmas Tree Train! Travel by authentic steam train to Leaman Place Grove, where you can choose a pre-cut Frasier Fir tree and have it delivered back to the station. First-class guests receive complimentary hot cocoa and a cookie. Guests are encouraged to purchase a Christmas tree. Santa is NOT aboard this train. 




Santa’s Express

November 19 – December 18, 2022 (Weekends)

Santa’s Express is ready to embark on a magical 90-minute journey through the Chester Creek Valley! Enjoy a music-filled ride with Santa all the way to Glen Mills, PA where riders can visit the historic station and catch a photo op with Santa! Plus, enjoy all your favorite Christmas songs sung live by Greg Wright and friends! They take requests, too, so get your lists ready!



Brookside Garden of Lights and Model Trains

November 27, 2022- January 1, 2022

In addition to Brookside Garden of Lights outdoor holiday light exhibit (with more than one million dazzling lights,) G-Scale model trains wind through a seasonal landscape inside the Conservatory. And. inside the Visitors Center, you enjoy hot cocoa while listening to one of the nightly musical performances.


Chesapeake Beach Railway Museum

November 19, 2022 at 2PM – Sweet Treat Express

December 16, 2022 at 5:30PM – Polar Express Reading


Christmas At The Roundhouse 

November 11, 2022- January 29, 2023

Newly renovated “Trains of Christmas” includes favorite steam & diesel trains operating on four levels over a winter landscape. The layout grows as the season progresses.


Christmas Doll and Train Exhibit at St. Clement’s Island Museum

December 1, 2022- January 1, 2023

Enjoy a holiday exhibit of antique and collectible dolls, trains and toys in this festive holiday display inside the museum. This event is a fun visitor experience where you can see a very unique Christmas Exhibit in the museum setting.


College Park Aviation Museum’s Holiday Trains & Planes

December 16- December 23, 2017

1985 Cpl. Frank Scott Dr., College Park, MD 20740

The National Capital Trackers provide a captivating display of model locomotives to the museum, complete with villages, tunnels, and depots that bring history to life. This exhibit is free with museum admission.


Garden Railway Model Train Exhibit at US Botanic Garden Conservatory

November 24, 2022- January 2, 2023

100 Maryland Ave. SW, Washington, DC 20001

Botanical and locomotives come together as trains travel among lighthouses and replicas of the most recognizable buildings in our nation’s capital, which are created with real plant materials. To add to your whimsical experience, the Conservatory offers extended hours on Tuesday and Thursday evenings for live seasonal music from 6-8 pm. Both the train exhibit and music are free of charge.


Highlandtown Train Garden

November 27, 2022- January 2, 2023

We’re laying the track for Highlandtown Train Garden’s 12th ANNUAL CELEBRATION! Volunteers have been working to gear up for the big celebration. The train garden is located inside Engine House # 41 of the Baltimore City Fire Department located at 520 S. Conkling Street. Our hours are 11 am to 5 pm. The Train Garden is free, open to the public, wheelchair accessible and masks are optional. We will be open on Saturday, November 26 (Opening Day), Sunday, November 27, Saturday December 3, Sunday, December 4, Saturday, December 10, Sunday, December 11, Saturday, December 17 thru Saturday, December 24 (Closed Christmas Day), Monday, December 26 thru Monday, January 2, 2023 (Last Day).


Holidays at the Harbor

November 18, 2022- January 1, 2023

There is a lovely train display in the Gaylord National Harbor Lobby. There is a lot to see and do down at the Harbor. Tree lighting, ICE display and more!


Holiday Train Wonderland Walk 

November 27, 2022 – January 1, 2023

The 24th annual holiday train garden will once again be in the windows of Old Ellicott City Shops.


La Plata Train Station Museum Open

November 26, 2022 10AM-2PM

Tour the old train station, view train display and walk aboard the red caboose.

Martinville Christmas Train Garden

November 26, 2022 – December 21, 2022 (Weekends & Wednesdays)

This annual holiday display of miniature planes and trains in the Martinville Christmas Train Garden can be seen during a tour at the Glenn L. Martin Maryland Aviation Museum.


***Important: Rides and events are subject to change or even have cancellations that might not be reflected in this article. Please, always make confirmations and reservations by calling or clicking on the direct links to the events.***

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