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Northwest US Santa Trains and Holiday Lights - Create your Own Family Tradition. Winter time is always the season to ride the rails. Mount Hood Railway SantaTrainFeatured below you will find our favorite train excursions for families from Washington to Oregon it’s all about doing the fun stuff with your kids.

Here's the scoop.
From pretend journeys to the North Pole in winter and pumpkin trains to mystery nights, spooky tales and train robberies, it is always the season to ride the rails. During the winter months traditional “Santa Trains,” make enjoying Christmas tons of fun and at many stations the family holiday tradition has a new twist provided by Chris Van Allsburg’s book, The Polar Express

From animated displays and enchanting costumes to festive singing and holiday treats, the holiday excursions add a lively dimension while costumed storytellers convey the message of the season. Best of all the rhythm and energy of the train moving down the track is a sure thing - pure fun meant to be shared. We have assembled short list of the best memry making possibilities.

Mt. Hood Railroad in Oregon - Ride the Polar Express. (Mid November to December) Relax and enjoy the beauty the Columbia Gorge as the magical Polar Express weaves through the quiet woods. Guests will enjoy a train ride filled with warmth, laughter, and Christmas carols. Passengers will have hot chocolate and cookies served by entertaining “Chefs”. Arriving at the North Pole, Santa and his elves will greet each child and give them their own special Christmas bell. Everyone is invited to wear their pajamas and bring their own   Polar Express book or  purchase one in the gift shop to follow along while they listen to the story being read. Bonus Points: Mount Hood River Valley Railroad also runs a series of themed excursions including A Day Out With Thomas™, Western Train Robberies, springtime Fruit Blossom Special, and Pumpkin Patch Express. (Mt. Hood Railroad, toll-free 1-800-872-4661 or www.mthoodrr.com)
 
Winterfest in Seattle - Ice Skating and a Santa Train
(End of November to the beginning of January). The Seattle Center Winterfest offers five weeks of spirited family-friendly holiday events showcasing some of the region’s best entertainment. Free and low-cost performances highlight the diverse cultures of the Pacific Northwest. Activities and events include: the Campus Luminata, Circus Contraption with the Aerialistas, Seattle Winter Solstice in the Fountain, Winter Worldfest, ice rink, ice sculpting, Lelavison and a bonfire. Bonus Points: In addition to the festival activities, there is also a Santa train and Winter Wonderland village. (Seattle Center, 305 Harrison Street, Seattle 98109. (206) 684-7200 or www.seattlecenter.com/winterfest)

Leavenworth Christmas Village of Lights in Washington – Caroling and S’more by Firelight (First three weekends in December). According to USA Today rated Leavenworth one of the USA’s top 10 Christmas towns because of its annual transformation to a turn of the century Bavarian Christmas atmosphere complete with a magical wonderland of lights. Listen to caroling, enjoy hand bells, watch family holiday movies, and tasted roasted chestnuts or roast marshmallows and make your own s’mores. There’s sledding in Front Street Park and winter wonderland walks through Riverfront Park. Bonus Points:  Each Sunday children 12 or younger may collect free cookies by following a "Cookie Crawl" map. (Downtown Leavenworth, Washington (509) 548-5807 or www.leavenworth.org) 

About the book, The Polar Express. On Christmas Eve, a boy boards the mysterious train bound for the North Pole. During the story Santa gives the boy a bell from the harness of the reindeer. On the way home, the bell is lost but in the morning the boy finds the bell under the tree. While his mother thinks the bell is broken, he knows it is not but only true believers can hear the sound of the bell. The book received the prestigious Caldecott Award.  More great reads by Van Allsburg. Other delightful stories include Two Bad Ants, Ben’s Dream, and The Wreck of the Zephyr and Jumanji which became a movie starring Robin Williams. More details at www.polarexpress.com and www.chrisvanallsburg.com
  
Content updated by Family Travel Files with images image provided by Mt. Hood Railroad. Updated copyright updayed 2016.
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