Every year our family travels up to Strasburg, PA for a special holiday-themed train ride. Strasburg Rail Road offers enchanting Christmas excursions that appeal to your little ones imagination as you dive into a story book tale, sing carols and indulge in a special treat. Check out these magical holiday train rides and choose the one that entices you the most. I personally had a hard time picking and would do all three if I could.

SANTA PARADISE EXPRESS- A Christmas tradition since 1959, Strasburg Rail Road welcomes a very special visitor every November and December. That’s right, Santa himself will climb aboard the historic steam train to greet families as they travel down the tracks to Paradise, PA and back. As a special treat, children ages 11 and under will receive a gift from Santa and his helper during this nostalgic 45-minute steam train ride. Additionally, guests can enjoy attractions on select dates including; a Christmas market, a visit with Mrs. Claus, and music from professional carolers and musicians. The Santa Paradise Express runs November 19, 2022 – December 24, 2022. Tickets cost: Coach- Ages 12+ $33/Children ages 2-11 $26/Under 2 FREE & First Class Ages 2+ $45/ Under 2 FREE. Learn more

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THE NIGHT BEFORE CHRISTMAS- The spirit of Christmas comes alive as you step aboard the Night Before Christmas Train. Each passenger car has their very own narrator who is dressed in Victorian nightshirt and cap to read passengers the classic poem, “The Night Before Christmas.” Enjoy milk and cookies as you travel down the tracks through beautiful Amish Country to Paradise, Pennsylvania and back. It is a jolly good time as you hear the classic tale and sing carols. The night wouldn’t be complete without a visit from Santa who will make his way through the aisles to greet all good little girls and boys. On our ride each child got a candy cane and Night Before Christmas Coloring Book. The Night Before Christmas runs December 2-23, 2022. Tickets cost: Coach- Ages 12+ $33/Children ages 2-11 $26/Under 2 FREE & First Class Ages 2+ $45/ Under 2 FREE. Learn More

CHRISTMAS TREE TRAIN- Hop aboard the Christmas Tree Train to Leaman Place Grove where families can pick a pre-cut tree and have it hauled by steam engine back to the station. No worries a staff member is available to assist in helping families load their trees. This special train ride is available on special dates and departs at 9:00 AM and 12:30 PM and is available November 25, 2022 – December 3, 2022. Tree not included with ticket. Tickets cost: Coach- Ages 12+ $25/Children ages 2-11 $13/Under 2 FREE. Learn More


Be sure to come a little early before your train ride so you can enjoy some of the extra activities. My kids love the cranky cars, a man powered cart that allows kids to crank their way around a small track. Also, climb aboard the puffer belly, a small train that will take you on a short ride. Both activities were available at no additional charge. There is also a really fun playground located behind the restrooms. The night we attended the Santa Paradise Express ride we were entertained by performances of fun holiday music on the main stage. Don’t forget to check out the three different gift shops; souvenir shop, toy store and Thomas gift shop. During the holidays there is even an outdoor holiday market to check out too.


  • Dressing in Pajamas for the Night Before Christmas ride is both fun and convenient. It makes the experience even more magical. Not to mention, the kids are ready for bed after the train ride. I ordered my boys Polar Express style pajamas and they were so excited to wear them.
  • Be sure to arrive early for your train. You want to make sure you have time to get your tickets and get in line to board. If you purchase your tickets online, you will still need to pick them up at the station. You will also want to arrive early to use the bathroom, take a few photos and even enjoy the extra activities.
  • When riding coach, remember that the vintage seats can flip to face forward or backwards. You can turn them around to face each other for more privacy and family bonding time.
  • Santa Letters: If you are attending the Santa Express you can write a letter to Santa. If you would like a return letter from Santa, bring a self-addressed stamped envelope with you and place it in the “North Pole Express” mailbox located near the Mrs. Clause area.
  • We always bring a few dollars worth of quarters to make souvenir penny press and to go on the quarter machine ride on trains located in front of the gift shops.
  • The gift shop hours are accommodating, they are usually open at least a half hour before the first scheduled train and close 1 hour after the last train leaves each day. My recommendation is to go for the train ride. While waiting for the train to board they will have something to play with.
  • I also want to mention that there are very nice bathrooms on site. The bathrooms also offer clean and comfortable changing stations for baby.
  • If you can make a reservation in the Parlor car it is worth it! You will get to see the engine couple up to your car for the return journey!
  • Make time to visit the other train museums while in town it’s worth it…to splurge and make this a Christmas train-cation they won’t forget! I highly recommend the National Toy Train Museum and Railway Museum of Pennsylvania.


Strasburg Rail Road

Address: 301 Gap Rd. Ronks, PA 17527

Phone: 1-866-725-9666

Website: www.strasburgrailroad.com

***The Playful Parent does not receive payment for featuring attractions. All opinions are my own; I like to share experiences and information so that parents have resources on fun family outings. Discounted or complimentary tickets are an advantage but not a requirement. The Playful Parent is a 501(c)(3) non-profit that advocates learning through play and promotes family bonding, all information and photographs are intellectual property of TPP. I hope that these tips help with your planning so that you have a great time during your next  Strasburg Railroad visit. Thank you for reading…Play, Learn, Grow!***