The holidays are the pinnacle of many kids’ year. (At least in our house, “how many days until Christmas?” started about three months ago.) Throw into the mix some trains rides and boats, and your kids will be just about over the moon. Below you’ll find a collection of some of the area’s best holiday train and ship experiences. On many, Santa himself makes an appearance. On even more, so does hot chocolate. Let the holidays begin!
Holiday Express. The holidays don’t officially begin until that old steam whistle bleats out from Oaks Bottom. The Holiday Express train ride has all the fixins’ for a sweet, family-friendly ride. The train starts at Oaks Park and travels down Springwater Corridor toward OMSI before turning around, making for about a 45 minute trip. The interior of the train is decorated with holiday lights, friendly volunteers give information about the train, and Santa and his elves make a visit to each car to hand out candy canes.
Weekends November 24 through December 17.
All trains load at Oaks Station, 7805 SE Oaks Park Way, Portland OR
Tickets available for purchase online and range from $8 to $20.50 per ticket.
The Train to Christmas Town. You may have heard the news that the Mt. Hood Railroad’s Polar Express train ride is no more. Alas, it’s true. But you can still ride the Mt. Hood Railroad for a fun holiday outing. The Train to Christmas Town ride is based on the book of the same name by Peggy Ellis. You’ll recreate the story on board plus get to snack on cookies and hot chocolate.
Select days through December 28.
Train loads at 110 Railroad St., Hood River OR
Tickets available for purchase online and range from $37 (kids) to $47 (adults)
The Polar Express & Santa Steam Trains. If you want Polar Express, then Polar Express you shall have—though you’ll have to drive a wee bit farther. The Chehalis-Centralia Railroad and Museum in Washington offers up two holiday rides. The Polar Express ride features the reading of the popular book plus a visit from Santa, cocoa and cookies. The Santa Steam train is a 30 minute jaunt with Santa visiting everyone during the ride.
Polar Express: Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays November 24 – December 17.
Santa Steam Train: Saturdays and Sundays December 2-3 and 9-10.
Trains load at 1101 SW Sylvenus St., Chehalis WA
Tickets available for purchase online. $28-$38 for Polar Express; $10 for Santa Steam Train
Chelatchie Prairie Railroad Christmas Tree Runs. Take a scenic trip through southwest Washington on a 1941 diesel train (steam train the final weekend!), purchase your Christmas tree, and get a visit from Santa! Riders will also be treated to warm cider and cocoa, hot coffee and cookies.
Weekends, November 25 through December 17.
Train loads at 207 N. Railroad Ave., Yacolt WA
Tickets available for purchase online and range from $9-16 for diesel; $13-20 for steam.
Cinnamon Bear Cruise. Cruise down the Willamette with a host of characters from the classic Cinnamon Bear radio show and book. The cruise is filled with special treats, from photos to the Cinnamon Bear, to story time with Queen Melissa, to candy plundering, to a magic show. Hot chocolate and other tasty treats abound. For a full review of the experience, read this.
Select days November 25 through December 27.
Boat boards at the Salmon Street Springs Dock, 1000 SW Naito Pkwy, Portland OR
Tickets available for purchase online and range from $10 to $39.
Christmas Ships. Now in its 63rd season, the light-filled Christmas ships parade is a must-see. Check out their 2017 schedule to see where the best spots are to watch. Dress warm, brings a thermos, and enjoy the sights!
Select days December 1 through 21.