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!
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.
When: Weekends November 26 through December 19.
Where: All trains load at Oaks Station, 7805 SE Oaks Park Way, Portland OR
Cost: Tickets available for purchase online, starting at $20/ticket
Chelatchie Prairie Railroad Christmas Tree Runs. Take a scenic trip through southwest Washington on a 1941 diesel train, purchase your Christmas tree (Update for 2021: There will be no trees this year.), and get a visit from Santa! Plus an ugly sweater contest!
When: Weekends, November 17 through December 19.
Where: Train loads at 207 N. Railroad Ave., Yacolt ,WA
Cost: Tickets available for purchase online. $12-18.
Christmas Ships. Now in its 67th season, the light-filled Christmas ships parade is a must-see. Check out their 2021 schedule to see where the best spots are to watch. Dress warm, brings a thermos, and enjoy the sights!
When: Select days December 3-21.
Candy Cane Express
Enjoy cookies and cocoa and views of the Oregon coastline!
When: November 27-December 19, weekends
Where: Garibaldi, OR
Cost: Tickets start at $20, infants free
Santa Holiday Train Ride at Chehalis Depot
Meet Santa on the train ride from Chehalis Depot! This ride is shorter and less expensive than most.
When: November 27-December 19
Where: Chehalis, WA
Mount Hood Christmas Train
Join for music and fun and be wrapped in the holiday spirit!
When: November 20-December 26
Where: Mt. Hood Railroad Depot in Hood River
Cost: Tickets start at $40
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 a Polar Express ride featuring the reading of the popular book plus a visit from Santa, cocoa and cookies.
When: Polar Express: Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays November 13 – December 19.
Where: Trains load at 1101 SW Sylvenus St., Chehalis WA
Cost: Tickets available for purchase online. SOLD OUT 2021
The Sumpter Valley Railroad Holiday Train Rides are currently tentative. But check their website for the latest!