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Best Holiday Lights and Santa Trains in Ohio - Create Your Own Family Traditions. From riding the marvelous Polar Express to enjoying miles of magical lights we have plenty of yuletide excursions in Ohio to make enjoying season with family and friends more fun.Cuyahoga Valley Railroad Polar Express

Here’s the scoop. Taking a break from the often hectic holiday season means finding fun in small doses and we have assembled a few of the best mini holiday adventures in Ohio.  Ride the rails; walk through a fantasy land of twinkling lights; meet with Santa and Mrs. Claus; sip hot chocolate with Christmas elves; sing carols together; climb aboard the Polar Express or ride a special “Yule Train”. 

The Gift of Lights at Christmas Ranch in Morrow – Ride the Reindeer Express.  About a million lights synchronized to holiday music create the magic at the walk-thru light park with a Christmas Village full of shops, animated Toy Factory, an animated drive-thru tunnel, walk through tunnel, and a forest of animated Christmas trees.  Families may enjoy the Reindeer Express or a comfy ride in Santa’s Snow Wagon.  Bonus Points: Enjoy the lights using special 3-D Holiday HoloSpecs which reveal synchronized visuals including snowmen, reindeer and dancing star.  (Christmas Ranch 3205 S. Waynesville Road in Morrow, Ohio 45152. (513) 444-9362 or Valley Polar Express Experience

Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad in Akron - Ride with Santa (November and December). Families looking for a quick holiday getaway can ride the train with Santa Claus starting the weekend after Thanksgiving – and search for Santa’s reindeer as the train winds its ways through Cuyahoga Valley. The rail experience: When not offering a themed journey, the outing is still vacation worthy. Passengers travel along the Cuyahoga River and the historic Ohio & Erie Canal Towpath Trail between Cleveland and Akron and on to Canton. The route weaves through the Cuyahoga Valley National Park. Bonus Points: Each year in March visitors can ride the Maple Sugar Express to Hale Farm & Village. Passengers time-travel back to 1814 and observe pioneer family life and see process of maple sugar production. (Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad in Peninsula, OH 44264. Toll Free: 1-800-468-4070, (330) 657-2000, or Cuyahoga Valley National Park at the Rails at Chritmas with Santa and Bing

Dennison Railroad Depot Museum - Ride the Polar Express (Select dates in December).  Any time of year this is a fun spot to be shared with children. During December ride the "Polar Express" is on a vintage steam train and share the magic of the book firsthand. Costumed storytellers convey the message of the season; refreshments will be available. Best of all the rhythm and energy of the train moving down the track is a sure thing. The rail experience: The museum showcases five railroad coaches including a children’s interactive railroad car experience, a rare WWII hospital car, a special exhibit car, and a local history car. Bonus Points: In the children's area kids can climb in a caboose; use binoculars to watch the trains in the model train room; snuggle in a Pullman bunk; send a telegraph message to the Railroad Tower; pack a hobo satchel; explore the engine house, ticket office and watchman's shanty or go on Bing's Scavenger Hunt. (Dennison Railroad Depot Museum 400 Center Street, Dennison, Ohio 44621, (740) 922-6776 or Monroe Santa Train Holiday Family Fun

Mason Monroe Santa Express in Lebanon – Visit Santa’s Workshop (Late November into December). Imagine living a storybook dream on a train, and having a mini family train adventure. The nostalgic rides at Lebanon Mason Monroe Railroad’s Lebanon station fit the description.  Mason Monroe Santa Express has been a favorite of young and old alike for more than two decades. Experience the thrill and excitement of rail travel from days gone by while enjoying themed rides and entertainment. In November and December the train heads to Santa’s workshop where Santa & Mrs. Claus will help you celebrate the season with hot cocoa and entertainment by Santa’s elves. The rail experience: Rides depart from Historic downtown Lebanon and travel along the original CL&N line. Trains operate with a restored 1950s-era GP-7 diesel-electric locomotive, open window commuter coaches built in 1930 and a popular open-air gondola car on the rear of the train allows you to enjoy a panoramic view of the countryside. (The Lebanon Mason Monroe Railway. 127 South Mechanic, Lebanon, OH 45036. Toll-free 1-866-934-9464 toll-free, (513) 933-8022 or

Content researched and posted by Nancy Nelson Duac, Curator of the Good Stuff for the Family Travel Files with images provided by Mason Monroe Santa Express in Lebanon, Cuyahoga Railway and Dennison Railroad Museum. Copyright updated 2017. 

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