All Aboard: 7 Christmas trains across Triangle, North Carolina with tickets still available
Posted November 12, 2019 9:15 p.m. EST
Editor's note: This post has been updated for the 2019 holiday season.
If your child dreams of riding a train with Santa this season, it's time to line up those tickets because some rides will sell out.
But, if you didn't get tickets for the Holiday Express and don't manage to get them for N.C. Amtrak's Santa Train, there are other options for holiday train rides. Here are seven!
Santa Train at the Museum of Life and Science
The very popular Santa Train runs Dec. 4 to Dec. 8, Dec. 11 to Dec. 15, and Dec. 18 to Dec. 22. Tickets range in price between $15 and $25, depending on when you go. The event includes a ride on the museum's kiddie train, the Ellerbe Creek Railway, plus crafts, face painting, hot chocolate, admission to the museum's indoor butterfly house and more. This event can sell out. If you want to go, you need to buy tickets as soon as you are able. Tickets are on sale now.
New Hope Valley Railway's Santa's Reindeer Roundup Express
The railway's Christmas event in southwestern Wake County has a newish name and includes a new activity - a hunt for Santa's nine missing reindeer, including Rudolph, along the tracks during your ride and in the rail yard. It runs Dec. 7, Dec. 8, Dec. 14, Dec. 15 and Dec. 21. The hour-long rides on the open-air trains start at 10 a.m. each day. Tickets are between $11 and $13, depending on your age. Again, these rides are very popular. Advance ticket purchase is recommended, especially if you need to lock in a particular departure time. If you go, just prepare yourself for a possibly chilly ride on the open-air cars, along with some low-key, seasonal fun. I'd definitely recommend this one for younger kids.
Christmas at Hubb's Farm
Hubb's Farm in Clinton, about an hour south of Raleigh, hosts Polar Express Movie and Santa Too with train rides on Nov. 30. Tickets are $20. Then Christmas on the Farm, which also includes train rides, is on select dates Dec. 13 to Dec. 22. Tickets are between $5 and $10. Kids under 2 are admitted for free with a paying guest.
N.C. Transportation Museum's Polar Express
In Spencer, about two hours from Raleigh, the museum will again host its Polar Express train rides. This event has been incredibly popular since it launched a few years ago. This year, it runs Nov. 15 to Nov. 17, Nov. 22 to Nov. 24, Nov. 29 to Dec. 1, Dec. 6 to Dec. 8 and Dec. 12 to Dec. 22. Set to the popular movie's soundtrack, families will ride to the "North Pole," enjoy some hot chocolate and cookies, a reading of the book and a visit with Santa, who presents the first gift of Christmas. At the end, everyone will get their own silver sleigh bell to take home. Individual tickets start at $32. Some dates have already sold out.
Tweetsie Railroad's Tweetsie Christmas
In Blowing Rock, about three hours from Raleigh, Tweetsie Railroad will host Tweetsie Christmas for the third year. It runs on Friday and Saturday evenings from Nov. 22 through Dec. 28. Take a train ride through the Blue Ridge Mountains along a route decorated with a display of twinkling lights. Back at the park, guests can listen to carolers, watch a live Christmas Show, roast s’mores by a fire pit and get their picture taken with Santa. Tickets are $38 per person and are being sold for a designated night with a specific train ride time. A limited number of guests will be admitted each evening. Get your tickets in advance.
Country Christmas Train
Travel about two hours from Raleigh to Denton for this annual tradition, the Country Christmas Train. It opens on Nov. 29 and runs on select nights through Dec. 27. 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. Tickets are $5 for kids ages 5 to 11 and $6 for adults.
Great Smoky Mountain Railway's Polar Express
In Bryson City, this annual favorite began Nov. 8 and runs through Dec. 31. Tickets start around $28 for kids and $42 for adults. Some time slots are sold out. 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.