Seattle's Child

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9 family-friendly holiday train outings in Seattle and vicinity

All aboard! Here are ways to ride the rails for holiday fun.

If someone in your family has a passion for trains, this is an excellent time of year for you. In November and December, there’s a bounty of holiday train fun and events celebrating the glories of railroad travel. We’ve got something for everyone from riding the train with Santa to viewing miniature train villages.  All aboard!


Holiday train outings: model trains

Swanson Holiday Festivities

Visit Santa, pick up your tree and home decor, plus see Swanson’s annual model train village for your family train outing!

Date/Times: Mid-November – December 24, Open daily, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Pricing: Free entry

Location: 9701 15th Ave NW, Seattle, WA 98117


Volunteer Park Holiday Express Train

Watch a model train make its way through lush poinsettias and a vintage winter layout at the Volunteer Park Conservatory. The train will run on the weekends (Friday, Saturday and Sunday).

Dates/Time: December 17, 22, 23, 24, 25, 29, 30, and January 1. Open from 10 a.m. – 4 p.m.

Pricing: Free entry

Location: 1400 E Galer St, Seattle, WA 98112


Washington State History Museum Model Train Festival 

Join the 26th annual Model Train Festival at Tacoma’s Washington State History Museum! This museum has become a paradise for model train enthusiasts around the state who create elaborate train layouts on each floor, each with intricate diorama scenes of the Pacific Northwest. Kids can also see railroad artifacts in the Great Hall of Washington History. Tickets can be bought here.

Date/Time: December 16 – January 1. Open from 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.

Pricing: $14 for an Adult, $11 for Student, Military, or Senior (65+)

Location: 1911 Pacific Ave, Tacoma, WA 98402


Winterfest Train and Village

See a giant layout of a turn-of-the-century village at the Seattle Center Armory. This display has been around for the past 40 years. Participate in a scavenger hunt and try to find all the hidden pieces within the train village. Donations are welcome to help keep the train running. In addition, there is a special guidebook that will give you all the fun holiday activities and events.

Date/Times: November 24 – December 31. Open daily, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Pricing: Free entry

Location: 305 Harrison St, Seattle, WA 98109



Holiday train rides

Polar Express Train Ride 

Passengers are invited to ride comfortably on a 45-minute round trip to the North Pole in a vintage railcar. While on board, hot chocolate and delicious treats will be served. Each child will be given the first Christmas gift, and chefs will sing Christmas carols on the ride back to the Depot.

Seating options: Polar Express (up to 1 passenger; free for child under age 2), State Room (up to 3 passengers) Parlor Room (up to 6 passengers), and Premier Seating (up to 8 passengers). Tickets are limited, book here.

Dates/Times: November 11 – December 23. Departs 3 p.m., 5 p.m. and 7 p.m. (Saturday/Sunday only)

Pricing: Polar Express is $60, State Room is $225, Parlor Room is $450, and Premier Seating is $600 (note: children under age 2 are free, but must be on an adult’s lap)

Location: 1101 SW Sylvenus St, Chehalis, WA 98532



Santa’s Grinchy Train

What would usually be a 30-minute train ride is now a stationary “ride” for 2023 due to track repairs and circumstances beyond their control. However, you can still celebrate in a fun way on Santa’s Grinchy Train with cookies, hot cocoa, a chance to write to Santa, and maybe even a visit from the big guy. Book tickets soon! Free parking is available.

Date/Time: Will be announced ASAP

Pricing: TBD for 2023

Location: 1101 SW Sylvenus St, Chehalis, WA 98532


Santa Train Limited

You will begin your 2-hour, round-trip experience at North Bend Depot, where you will see Santa and his elves as you board the train’s seasonally decorated coaches and ride to the Railway History Campus! After the train ride, you will get to go inside, where there will be music, refreshments, and various exhibits! Lastly, there will be a visit with Santa, where each child will receive a small gift and participate in seasonal crafting activities. Tickets are limited, book tickets here.

Date: November 25-26, December 2-3, 9-10 and 16-17. Time slots from 9 a.m. – 4 p.m.

Pricing: Tickets are $38 per person, Free for ages 2 and under.

Location: 205 E McClellan Street, North Bend, WA 98045


Ride a real, working train! There are many ways to do that around Seattle, although these are different from the steam-powered variety. Link light rail will take you from Northgate to Sea-Tac airport and beyond. The vintage Monorail is super-cool and connects Seattle Center and Westlake Center, two Seattle-area holiday hubs. In downtown Tacoma (see the museum’s model train festival above), you could hop on a light-rail train for a short, scenic ride to the Tacoma Dome and back. If you’re feeling more ambitious, hop on an Amtrak Cascades train from King Street Station and travel to Canada or Oregon (or points between!)

train outings

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