The holidays are the pinnacle of many kids’ year. 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!
When Portland Spirit announced that they were bringing back this beloved holiday tradition after a pandemic hiatus, there was a collective cheer from locals. For generations, families have been sharing breakfast and listening to magical character story time on board the Portland Spirit. Find out what all the fuss is about, if you haven’t experienced the magic yet.
When: November 26-27, December 4, 10-11, 17-18, 22-24, 26-27
Where: Portland Spirit
Cost: $48/child, $64/adult, includes food, drink, performances, photo with Cinnamon Bear and more. Book here.
The holidays don’t officially begin until that old steam whistle bleats out from the Oregon Rail Heritage Center. The Holiday Express train ride has all the fixins’ for a sweet, family-friendly ride. The train starts at the Oregon Rail Heritage Center and travels down the Springwater Corridor toward Oaks Park 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.
When: Weekends, November 25 through December 18.
Where: All trains load at the Oregon Rail Heritage Center, 2250 SE Water Ave., Portland OR
Cost: $23/child, $28/adult, $92/family. Book here.
Take a scenic trip through southwest Washington on a 1941 diesel train, and get a visit from Santa. Plus an ugly sweater contest and hot beverages! Please note, no trees for purchase this year.
When: Weekends, November 26 through December 18.
Where: Train loads at 207 N. Railroad Ave., Yacolt ,WA
Cost: Tickets available for purchase online. $12-18.
Now in its 68th season, the light-filled Christmas ships parade is a must-see. Dress warm, brings a thermos, and enjoy the sights!
When: Select days December 2-21.
Where: Check out their 2022 Willamette schedule and Columbia schedule to see where the best spots are to watch.
Enjoy cookies and cocoa and views of the Oregon coastline! Plus write a letter to Santa while you’re at it.
When: Weekends, November 26-December 18.
Where: Garibaldi, OR
Cost: Infants free, $30/child, $40/adult
Chehalis-Centralia Railroad & Museum usually hosts a short and more affordable holiday train ride, but the Grinch has stolen their tracks! (Read: ongoing track repairs have thrown a wrench in their holiday plans.) Bring the kids to this stationary event and meet both Santa and the Grinch.
When: Weekends, November 26-December 18
Where: Chehalis, WA
Enjoy music and fun in this charming train experience.
When: November 18-December 28
Where: Mt. Hood Railroad Depot in Hood River
Cost: In November, $49/child, $59/adult, $69/adult with infant. Prices increase by $10 in December.
Visit with Santa at the station, warm up with a free hot beverage, and enjoy a holiday train ride.
When: December 9-11
Where: McEwen Depot in Baker City
Cost: For a short run, children 2 and under ride free, $11/child, $18/adult, $15/seniors and military
The Polar Express & Santa Steam Trains Cancelled 2022
The Chehalis-Centralia Railroad and Museum in Washington typically offers a Polar Express ride featuring the reading of the popular book plus a visit from Santa, cocoa and cookies. This extremely popular event always sells out quickly. Unfortunately, the Grinch stole these tracks, too (see above). Check out this stationary event instead.
When: Returns in 2023
Where: Trains load at 1101 SW Sylvenus St., Chehalis WA