7 Christmas Train Rides That Will Make Your Holidays Merrier

Christmas activities for the kids and wine for you—everybody wins!

christmas train ride
George RoseGetty Images

While there are so many different Christmas activities you can do with your family (think: making crafts, watching movies, and baking Christmas cookies), sometimes it's fun to get out of the house (and take a break from all of that decorating!). Enter: Christmas train rides. Yes, many railroads around the country offer excursions in their vintage trains complete with cookies, hot chocolate, and a visit with Santa. If that already sounds fun, you'll love this: Some even serve wine.

We're pretty sure it doesn't get much better than sitting back in a well-decorated, vintage train car while sipping a glass of wine. Luckily for you, we've found many Christmas train ride ideas that offer a little something extra. Although we love a traditional Polar Express experience as much as the next person, a little wine sometimes makes the excursion a bit more magical. In fact, we think you and your family will love these train rides so much that you'll want to make it one of your Christmas traditions. If not, it's still definitely something to cross off of your list. Worried that you won't find a Christmas train ride near you? Don't worry: Our list covers train rides east to west, meaning you'll find something that you and your family will enjoy.

1. New Hope Railroad: Santa's Steam Spectacular + North Pole Express Train

    christmas train ride new hope
    Jeff GreenbergGetty Images

    If you like having options, then consider New Hope Railroad's two different wine train excursions, both located in New Hope, PA. On each journey, you and your family will ride on vintage, restored trains. The North Pole Express is pulled by a by a diesel locomotive, while the Santa's Steam Spectacular is—you guessed it—a steam train. During your ride through the historic Bucks County landscape, your children will enjoy hot cocoa and a visit from Santa while you sip on your choice of wine. Plus, everyone is encouraged to wear pajamas for a cozy, classic Christmas experience.

    For more information, visit newhoperailroad.com.

    2. East Troy Railroad Museum: Christmas Train

    christmas train ride east troy
    @EastTroyRR / Instagram

    Although the East Troy Railroad Museum in East Troy, WI, has a daytime and nighttime Christmas Train option, we suggest hopping aboard the latter. The reason? You and your family will sit in the lap of luxury in one of the first-class dining cars. There, your kids will be treated to hot chocolate and cookies while you take your pick of a complimentary adult hot chocolate, beer, or wine.

    For more information, visit easttroyrr.com.

      3. Napa Valley Wine Train: Santa Train

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      Courtesy of Napa Valley Wine Train

      If there's one thing Napa Valley is known for, it's wine. So, when the Napa Valley Wine Train launched a Santa Train, we were all aboard (pun intended!). However, just because you'll be enjoying a glass of wine doesn't mean your kids can't come along. This experience is completely kid-friendly and offers time with Santa Claus, a gingerbread man, Frosty the Snowman, and other costumed characters.

      For more information, visit winetrain.com.

      4. Strasburg Rail Road: Santa's Paradise Express + The Night Before Christmas

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      Courtesy of Strasburg Railroad

      Strasburg Rail Road in Ronks, PA offers not one, but two holiday wine train experiences. On Santa's Paradise Express, Santa himself joins riders as they travel down to Paradise, PA, and back. Kids will enjoy storybook readings and even get a special gift from St. Nick himself. On the Night Before Christmas ride, the train recreates the joys of Christmas Eve, complete with holiday readings, milk and cookies, and more. Little ones are also encouraged to wear their pajamas for the full Christmas Eve experience. As for the adults, both holiday trains have wine and beer for purchase in certain train cars. Cheers!

      For more information, visit strasburgrailroad.com.

      5. Grapevine Vintage Railroad: Christmas Wine Train

      With a name like Grapevine, this Texas town's holiday wine trains are bound to be good, right? Indeed, they're nothing short of magical. For starters, this adults-only train ride comes with delicious passed hors d'oeuvres and two complimentary glasses of wine. (Additional wine is available for purchase.) As if that's not already fun enough, this holiday train is guaranteed to bring out the kid in everyone, with a visit from Santa, festive live holiday music, and more.

      For more information, visit grapevinetexas.com.

      6. Grand Canyon Railway: 'The Polar Express' Train Ride

      The magic of the classic children's book comes to life in this fun-filled train experience. The hour-long ride departs from Williams, AZ and travels along the tracks to reach the "North Pole." On the way there, Santa's helpers do a lively reading of the book while kids munch on chocolate chip cookies and adults sip on wine or beer, available for purchase. The train then pulls up to majestic holiday haven, lit up with beautiful Christmas light displays. Santa himself will also be there to give out gifts to the kids.

      For more information, visit thetrain.com.

      7. Skunk Train: Magical Christmas Train

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      Courtesy of Skunk Train

      This year, nix the trip to the mall to visit Santa and book a trip on this Fort Bragg, CA train instead. On board, Santa Claus and his helpers stroll through the train cars singing carols and sharing holiday tales. Families will also get to enjoy holiday treats like candy canes, popcorn, cookies, and hot cocoa in a souvenir cups. But one of the best perks has to be the jaw-dropping views of Mendocino County's redwoods right outside the window. Since the county also happens to be known for its wine, you can bet this train has some of the best bottles—along with locally brewed beer—in the train's full bar.

      For more information, visit skunktrain.com.

      8. 1880 Train: Holiday Express—Spiked!

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      Courtesy of 1880 Train

      Based out of Hill City, South Dakota, this holiday experience is like a trip to the North Pole for grown-ups only. You'll get a visit from Santa, holiday snacks, and a keepsake mug filled with spiked hot chocolate. (Here's hoping it's red wine hot cocoa!) Guests can also buy mulled wine in the depot prior to departure and bring it on board.

      For more information, visit 1880train.com.

      9. Spooner Santa Express: Santa's Pizza Party

      This two-hour train ride leaves from Spooner, Wisconsin, and it's basically one big holiday party on wheels. Why? There's pizza for everyone, and beer for you (soda for the kids). There's no wine, sadly, on this train, but we can all agree that pizza and beer is just as awesome, right? To top it off, your children will also get to say hello to Santa, snack on holiday cookies, and have fun with holiday coloring pages.

      For more information, visit spoonertrainride.com.

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