Remember a train encircling your Christmas tree when you were growing up? My boys spend hours enjoying our steam engine that comes out each year with the mistletoe and stockings. Holiday train adventures around Georgia will help you relive those childhood memories. Hold on to your seat, we’re going for a ride!
Blue Ridge Scenic Railway – A visit with Santa is magical, especially when you’re headed through the mountains alongside the winding Toccoa River. A daytime ride is best for young children, lasting only an hour. It includes storytelling, caroling and a visit from Santa. Older kids (and adults) will enjoy the four-hour nighttime adventure to Santa’s Pavilion. Santa visits each of the vintage train cars, and guests stop in the border town of McCaysville/Copperhill for dining and shopping.
Atlanta Botanical Garden – Garden Lights, Holiday Nights is one of my favorite nighttime holiday treats, with millions of lights illuminating the downtown gardenscape. Holiday cheer continues during the day when visitors can enjoy a G-scale train and trolley winding through a mountain village town. The miniature metropolis is not the only train show; kids can enjoy a turn on The Botanical Express.
Stone Mountain Park – Stone Mountain Christmas is an event for all your senses. See multiple live plays amidst 2 million sparkling holiday lights. Visit the Snow Angel in her palace or see Polar Express in 4D. End the evening with a parade featuring Santa, the Snow Angel and a fireworks extravaganza. If you ask me, though, the highlight is a ride on the Singalong Train. Carol with the other passengers along this five-mile route around the mountain. There is no extra charge; it’s included with admission!
Macy’s Pink Pig – This vintage train is enjoying more than 50 years in Atlanta. Once with Rich’s, then at Egleston’s Festival of Trees, it now sits rooftop at Lenox Mall. If you grew up in Atlanta, you probably rode this train as a child. Bring your kiddos to meet Priscilla and carry on this Atlanta tradition benefitting Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta.
The Southern Museum – Follow the City of Kennesaw’s Christmas celebrations with an evening at The Southern Museum’s Polar Express Adventure. A train conductor and hobo greet families as they enter the museum. Kids can make crafts, write letters to Santa and meet the Big Guy himself. Warm up with hot chocolate and take in the holiday-themed model train layout.
Southeastern Railway Museum – When Santa’s reindeer are taking a breather, you’ll find him at the Southeastern Railway Museum where he can pick from more than 90 pieces of railway equipment, all perfect for delivering presents. Mingle with Santa and his elves, make holiday crafts and take a ride with Santa at the museum. On select days in December, families can dine with Santa for breakfast or lunch and watch a unique showing of Polar Express.
Georgia State Railway Museum in Savannah – Don your jammies and head to the museum for a special evening with Santa. Ride the city’s steam engine, which is decked for Christmas, and meet a very special conductor. After the 30-minute ride, visit Santa, create holiday crafts and listen to a reading of The Polar Express. Leopold’s Ice Cream is there with hot chocolate and hot cocoa ice cream for sale.
SAM Shortline Excursion Train– Head to southwest Georgia for multiple holiday adventures on the 1949 vintage cars that are part of the Heart of Georgia Railroad. Rudolph’s Favorite is a relaxing ride into Cordele for a short layover. There, kids can play games, listen to music, hear the Polar Express story or hunt for Christmas gifts. The Bells Over Plains ride is longer and includes options for a special Santa lunch or a visit from one of Santa’s elves, complete with hot cocoa to warm your spirits.
Lesli Peterson is Georgia’s Destination Expert for Trekaroo and founder of 365 Atlanta Family. She is a homeschooling mom to 2 young boys and bonus mom to two teenagers. From her home base of Atlanta, Lesli spends her time life-learning with the kids one road-trip at a time, and sharing her experiences along the way.