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As we get ready to embrace the holiday season of 2018, it’s time to start planning for those magical Holiday train rides. Several years ago when my daughter was finally old enough to accompany me on one of these adventures, I realized how soon the tickets sell out – much to my disappointment! So grab your tickets now for a magical and memorable train ride here in Lake Country and some a little further away (but worth the drive!).
Holiday Train Rides in Lake County
Holiday Themed Model Train Displays in Lake County
You don’ have to ride off into the sunset to entertain your tiny train lover this season. There are several different Holiday Themed Model Trained Displays happening in Lake County throughout December to keep your little engineer tooting!
November 23 – December 21 from 10:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.
December 22– January 6, 2019 from 10:00 a.m. – 7:00 p.m.
Chicago Botanic Garden, 1000 Lake Cook Road, Glencoe | (847) 835-5440
Wonderland Express is one of the Chicago area’s top holiday “must-sees,” and a family-friendly, made-for-memories experience. This indoor model-train exhibition delights children and parents, friends and families. Drop-in activities available on select days, don’t miss complimentary family photos on December 2 and 15. The Wonderland Express is a Holiday Tradition that our family, and many of our writer’s families, enjoy. Read our 2016 review of Wonderland Express.
North Central O Gaugers Winter Wonderland
The North Central O Gaugers are model railroad enthusiasts and set up large displays at area libraries for the public to enjoy. Many of the display feature interactive stops and the conductors love to talk to your children about what they do. They will be setting their Winter Wonderland displays up on the following days:
December 1, 9:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. Wauconda Public Library
December 8-9 Fremont Public Library, Mundelein
After Christmas you can see the Winter Wonderland Display on January 26 at Warren-Newport Public Library, Gurnee
Holiday Themed Train Rides in and around Lake County
Note we did not include any of the Park District or City sponsored events. The majority of these sell out over the summer. Please check your local municipalities site to see if there are still openings.
2018 Christmas Train – East Troy Depot
November 24-25, December 1-2, 8-9, and 15-16; 9:00 a.m., 10:30 a.m., 12:00 p.m., 1:30 p.m., and 3:00 p.m. departures
East Troy Electric Railroad, 2002 Church St., East Troy, Wisconsin | (262) 642-3263
A magical ride takes you a half hour from the East Troy Depot to Santa’s workshop located at The Elegant Farmer. Here children can visit Santa and get a photo taken with the jolly elf himself! Craft projects and hot chocolate and cookies will be available. Advance reservations are required.
Canadian Pacific Holiday Train
December 6, 6:00 p.m.
4460 Old Grand Avenue, Viking Park Middle School
The Holiday Train is nearly 1,000 feet long with 14 rail cars, each decorated with hundreds of thousands of technology-leading LED lights and holiday designs. The Holiday Train raises awareness of local hunger issues by encouraging attendees to bring a non-perishable food item for donation to a local food pantry. All donations will benefit the Northern Illinois Food Bank. For more information, visit the Canadian Pacific Railway’s website. Wondering what it’s like? Read our 2016 review.
Happy Holiday Railway
November 24, 25, December 1, 2, 8, 9, 15, 16 , 22 and 23rd.; Saturday and Sunday trips take place at 1:30pm, 2:30pm, 3:30pm, and 5pm. (Rides at other times may be opened up at a later date based on demand).
7000 Olson Road, Union | (815) 923-4000
Embark on a magical 40-minute train ride through the winter countryside on your way to visit with Santa Claus himself! Treats will be served and gifts will be given to children on Santa’s “good list.” Everyone passed their first birthday must have a ticket. Display buildings and museum grounds will not be open for this event. Plan to arrive no earlier than 30 minutes before your scheduled trip.
The Polar Express Train Ride at Chicago Union Station
November 30 – January 1, 2019
500 W. Jackson Blvd., Chicago | (312) 471-2501
Grab a seat on THE POLAR EXPRESS™ Train Ride at historic Chicago Union Station this holiday season. The magical story comes to life when the train departs Union Station for a one-hour round-trip journey through downtown Chicago. Tickets range from $52-$75 for adults and $45-$65 for children ages 2 to 11. Each ticket includes a keepsake sleigh bell to bring home along with hot chocolate and a cookie. Families are encouraged to wear their pajamas for the ride!
2018 CTA Holiday Train & Bus
Schedule varies, through December 23
Santa waves to boarding riders on this festive train wrapped with holiday images and twinkling lights. Santa’s elves greet you with candy canes while the train delivers food baskets to charity organizations throughout the city. Normal CTA fares apply. Visit Transit Chicago website for full details including dates and train lines.
Aren’t able to get to one of the above events? Why not create your own? Jennifer shows us how!
And read Loralie’s guide to all things train in Lake County here!
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