Santa greets train riders aboard the Northwest Railway Museum’s Santa Limited.
Apologies that we’re bringing up anything related to Christmas or Santa while we are still in the thick of considering our family’s Halloween costumes. This is a major cringe. But we need to momentarily interrupt this sunny, early fall day to bring you a quick message.
Picture this: Several months from now, when the dark winter has set in, you and your sweet family are enjoying a holiday train excursion, perhaps with the grandparents or a group of friends. Your kids are over the moon at the prospect of meeting Santa, and there might even be hot cocoa to keep things cozy. The historic train car trundling through the countryside makes for a special afternoon of holiday cheer.
But wait! If you don’t take a moment to book your tickets now, you may miss out on this holiday cheer. Especially this year, when there are fewer holiday train options on offer than usual. (In a couple of months, you may just be sitting on the couch at home watching some random NFL game, let’s say Bengals vs. Jets or something.) Holiday train excursions do sell out. So just take a sec here — as you wish, of course — to book your tix. (Or else ... you know, Go Bengals?)
This 25-minute holiday train excursion is offered by the Northwest Railway Museum. It begins at the historic Snoqualmie Depot where passengers will climb aboard the Museum’s seasonally decorated antique coaches, and travel west to Snoqualmie Falls, pausing at the crest to take in the incredible view of the valley below, before returning to Snoqualmie. During the ride, Santa will be on board to give each child a small gift. All passengers will receive a holiday peppermint stick, too.
Dates: Saturday, Nov. 26–Dec. 17, 2022
Location: Board this train at the Snoqualmie Depot, 38625 S.E. King Street, Snoqualmie.
Tickets: $26 (everyone age 2 and older needs a ticket; tots age 1 and younger ride free on a lap). Book online.
The Northwest Railway Museum’s Santa Train has been running since 1969 and it’s the museum’s most popular seasonal event. This two-hour holiday excursion begins at the North Bend Depot. After boarding, passengers ride the seasonally decorated train with its antique coaches across the Snoqualmie River and through the woods to the Railway History Campus. There, Santa greets each family inside a beautifully restored chapel car and presents each child with a small gift. A Santa Limited ticket includes access to exhibits and hands-on activities all located inside the festively decorated Train Shed Exhibit Hall. All guests receive a holiday cookie on this train excursion.
Dates: Saturday–Sunday, Nov. 26–Dec.18, 2022
Location: Board this train at the North Bend Depot, 205 E. McClellan Street, North Bend.
Tickets: $35 (everyone ages 2 and older needs a ticket; tots age 1 and younger ride free on a lap). Book online.
This holiday train ride takes place in Canada, but with fewer Puget Sound area options this year (more on that below), we’re including this one in the event your family makes a trek northward. Catch the North Pole Express at the Railway Museum of British Columbia in Squamish. The festive one-hour ride delivers families to the North Pole activity area where they’ll meet Santa and Mrs. Claus, and also Marshall Mellow, the polar bear(!?) who’s in charge of Santa’s workshop.
Dates: Saturday–Sunday, Nov. 26–Dec. 18, 2022
Location: Railway Museum of British Columbia, 39645 Government Road, Squamish, BC. (Squamish is about a 3.5-hour drive from Seattle, across an international border.)
Tickets: $40 CDN; VIP option available. Age 1 and younger ride free on a lap. Book online.
4. Holiday trains to keep in mind for next year
Due to ongoing track repairs and other circumstances, the Chehalis Centralia Railroad and Museum reports it’s had to cancel all 2022 holiday train excursions. The plan is to be back for 2023. Check the website for updates.
The Mount Rainier Scenic Railroad in Elbe, another popular holiday train provider, closed due to the pandemic and fans feared the closure was permanent. But a new organization, called Western Forest Industries Museum, plans to revive the railroad, though it won’t be in time for holiday trains this year. Stay tuned for what this place plans to offer railroad enthusiasts in 2023.
Can’t wait? Holiday trains not your cup of cocoa?