It might seem early to some, but it's time to start nailing down your holiday activity plans ... and those include getting tickets to the region's many Santa trains.
Here's what's scheduled and what you need to know. Many of these sell out.
- In Durham, the Museum of Life and Science's very popular Santa Train runs Dec. 4 to Dec. 8, Dec. 11 to Dec. 15, and Dec. 18 to Dec. 22. Tickets are between $15 and $20 per rider, depending on what day you go, for ages 3 and up. Kids 2 and under ride for free in an adult lap. The event includes a ride on the museum's kiddie train, the Ellerbe Creek Railway, plus crafts, face painting, hot chocolate and more. This event sells out very quickly. If you want to go, you need to buy tickets as soon as you are able. Tickets went on sale last week for general members. Tickets go on sale to the public on Monday, Nov. 11. For details about the event and how to get tickets, click here. (The museum will not have a holiday model train exhibit this year as it has in the past).
- Pullen Park in Raleigh will hold its popular Holiday Express event from 4 p.m. to 9 p.m., Dec. 6 to Dec. 8 and Dec. 13 to Dec. 15. This is the third year for this popular event since Pullen reopened in 2011 after a massive makeover. Nearly all the tickets sold out last year. Be sure to get yours before you go. The event features holiday lights and displays, a lighted kiddie train ride, local entertainment, a carousel ride, crafts, visit with Santa and more. Tickets are on sale now. Tickets can be purchased online for $8. Kids under 2 are free with a paying adult. Read my earlier post for more information.
- New Hope Valley Railway's Santa Trains are Dec. 7, Dec. 8, Dec. 14, and Dec. 15 at the railway in southwestern Wake County. Rides on the diesel or steam engines start at 11 a.m. each day. Tickets are between $7 and $12, depending on your age and whether you want to ride a steam or diesel train. Again, these rides are very popular. Advance ticket purchase is recommended, especially if you need to lock in a particular departure time. For more about the experience, read my review from last year.
- The N.C. Transportation Museum in Spencer, about two hours from Raleigh, has several Christmas-related rides, which start in late November. Tickets are on sale now.
- The Country Christmas Train in Denton opens on Nov. 30. See lights and the nativity story on this train ride. Then enjoy Christmas carols, arts and crafts, a doll museum, treats and more, including a visit with Santa. Denton is about two hours from Raleigh.
- Looking for a weekend trip? The Great Smoky Mountains Railway in Bryson City has a Polar Express, which started Nov. 8 and runs through Dec. 29. Tickets range between $10 (for infants) to $69 (for adults in first class). Kids are encouraged to wear their pajamas. The ride recreates the classic story with a stop at the North Pole, a visit with Santa, hot chocolate, treats and more. Bryson City is about five hours from Raleigh. Tickets are on sale now.