It's Halloween. And it's also time to start making plans if you want to hop aboard one of the many Santa trains in North Carolina.
These popular rides feature the big guy and a train ride. Some are on kiddie trains. Others are on full-size trains that whiz you through forests (and even some snowy scenes if you're lucky).
They are all very popular. Tickets typically sell out completely or, at the very least, for the most sought after dates and departure times. So if you want to ride any of these trains, make your plans now.
One note: It appears that the N.C. Amtrak Santa Train is not planned for the second year in a row. If I get an update, I'll let you know.
Here are the Santa trains that are scheduled for this year:
- In Durham, the Museum of Life and Science's very popular Santa Train runs Nov. 29 to Dec. 2; Dec. 5 to 9; and Dec. 12 to Dec. 16; and Dec. 18 to 21. Tickets are $16.50 per rider for ages 3 and up. Kids under 3 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 go on sale for supporting members at 9 a.m., Nov. 5; general members at 9 a.m., Nov. 7; and the general public at 9 a.m., Nov. 12. For details about the event and how to get tickets, click here. The museum also will have a holiday model train exhibit, which opens Nov. 17.
- Pullen Park in Raleigh will hold its popular Holiday Express event from 4 p.m. to 9 p.m., Dec. 5 to Dec. 9. This is the second year for this popular event since Pullen reopened last year 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.
- New Hope Valley Railway's Santa Trains are Dec. 1 and Dec. 2 and Dec. 8 and Dec. 9 at the railway in southwestern Wake County. Rides on the diesel or steam engines start at 11 a.m. each day. Tickets, which are $10 for adults and $7 for kids 2 to 12, are on sale now. Again, these rides are very popular. Advance ticket purchase is recommended, especially if you need to lock in a particular departure time.
- 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.
- Looking for a weekend trip? The Great Smoky Mountains Railway in Bryson City has a Polar Express, which starts Nov. 9 and runs through Dec. 29. Tickets start at $39 for adults and $26 for children ages 2 to 12. 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.