If you haven’t booked your special train ride for the holiday season, time to get going! The popular rides sell out fast. Here are a few options for you that include music, hot chocolate, and most importantly, an appearance from Santa! Don’t forget to wear your favorite pajamas!
When: Chicago on Sundays (Dec. 3-17), shows starting at 2 p.m.; Evanston on Fridays (Dec. 1-15), shows starting at 4 p.m. and Saturdays (Dec. 1-16), shows starting at 9 a.m..
Where: Little Beans Café (1809 W. Webster, Chicago and 430 Asbury Ave. in Evanston)
Cost: $40 per child
The fun: The excitement starts the moment you hop aboard the antique trolley. Listen to a classic story ready by none other than Mrs. Claus as you make your way to the North Pole. When you arrive at Santa’s Workshop the adventure really begins. There are games with elves, cookies and hot cocoa with Mrs. Claus, and of course photo opportunities with the jolly old man himself. Don’t want the fun to end? Tickets include entrance to Little Beans Café, so arrive early or stay after for more fun.
When: Dec. 2-17, Saturday and Sunday trips from 2-6 p.m.
Where: Illinois Railway Museum, 7000 Olson Road, Union, IL 60180
Cost: $18 per person
The fun: Take a 40-minute train ride trip through the winter countryside on one of the Museum’s trains. The event is improved for 2016 with a longer ride and leaving from a platform at Barn 9 and returning to the same platform, rather than the diner or depot. Sip on hot chocolate while you await your visit from Santa on the train. Afterwards, head to the diner for more hot chocolate or take a stroll through a few open barns where some of the museum’s equipment will be open for display. A few more rides will also be available on the museum’s Trolley Bus route.
When: Now through Dec. 22.
Where: Various “L” lines
Cost: Normal CTA fares (children under 7 are free)
The fun: One of Chicago’s most popular events, the Holiday Train, happens aboard Chicago’s CTA elevated train, the “L.” Even in the most frigid temps, you’ll find Santa outside on his sleigh while his elves hand out candy canes to passengers inside the train car. On Saturdays, the new Elves’ Workshop Train will follow to spread more cheer. Read our guide on how to catch the train.
When: Thursday, Dec. 14 with 12 trips scheduled from 4 to 9 p.m.
Where: Villa Olivia, 1401 W. Lake Street, Bartlett
Cost: $10 resident, $15 non-resident. Don’t delay in making your reservation–only 288 spaces are available and you cannot register online.
The fun: Munch on cookies and hot cocoa and get your craft on while you wait for the magical trolley ride. Climb aboard the trolley to Santa’s Workshop where a Santa will meet with the little ones.
When: Dec. 2-3, 8-10, 15-17
Where: Blackberry Farm, 100 S. Barnes Road, Aurora
The fun: Chug around Lake Gregory at Blackberry Farm and enjoy the twinkling lights and songs of Christmas. After a fun ride, head to the village and listen to holiday stories, a reindeer food bar and hay wagon rides. Play at the Adventure Playground which will be transformed into a Candy Cane Village. Santa will be there to listen to good boys’ and girls’ Christmas wishes.
When: Now through Jan. 1, 2018.
Where: Union Station, 500 W. Jackson Blvd., Chicago
Cost: $55 adults (reserved); $40 children (reserved)
The fun: Relive the classic story of The Polar Express. The hour-long interactive experience features a retelling of the story, famous conductor, dancing chefs, hot chocolate and a sleigh bell for those that believe. Santa also makes an appearance!