There’s just something about trains that really capture the holiday spirit. Maybe it’s all the decorated model train displays at stores and museums and libraries, maybe it’s viewing the beautiful Ohio landscape in the winter, maybe it’s the lasting legacy of books like The Polar Express – regardless, a fun train ride seems like the best way to experience the holidays in Ohio.
The Polar Express, Cuyahoga Valley National Scenic Railway
Like the Hocking Valley Scenic Railway, the CVNSR’s Polar Express ride sells out quickly each year. Families can wear their pajamas and board the train at the Rockside or Akron Northside stations for an evening of reading the Chris Van Allsburg story, hot cocoa, cookies and visits from Santa himself. The train even pays a visit to the decorated North Pole Village complete with caroling elves! Train rides run from November 8 thru December 21, except there are no train rides on November 11 (Veteran’s Day) and November 28 (Thanksgiving).
The Polar Express, Dennison Railroad Depot
The Dennison Railroad Depot features a re-enactment of Chris Van Allsburg’s The Polar Express. As you ride the train, storytellers read the book aloud while you enjoy songs and games, cookies and hot chocolate. Santa will board the train as well, and pass out sleigh bells to the kids. Train rides run on December 6-8 & 13-15.
North Pole Express, Northwest Ohio Railroad Preservation
The Northwest Ohio Railroad Preservation’s North Pole Express in Findlay is a 1/4-scale train. Ride it to see a winter wonderful decorated with thousands of lights, Christmas trees, model train displays, and more. The trains run every 15 minutes, and on certain nights St. Nick himself will be there! Running from November 29 thru January 5.
Santa Trains, Hocking Valley Scenic Railway
The Hocking Valley Scenic Railway’s popular Santa Trains have been running for over 30 years. The two-hour, round-trip train rides begin November 30. They’ll run each Saturday and Sunday thru December 22, departing from the Nelsonville Depot. While you enjoy the views of the beautiful Hocking River Valley, Christmas music plays and Santa will pay everyone a visit!
North Pole Express, LM&M Railroad
You can begin your North Pole Express journey on the LM&M Railroad with cookies and hot chocolate on the platform. During the hour-long ride, the train stops to pick up Santa, then he and his elves make their way through the carriages to visit passengers. Everyone gets a souvenir hot chocolate mug, and the kiddos get a bell from Santa’s sleigh and a souvenir ticket. Buy your tickets online ahead of time here.