We all grew up singing about dashing through snow in one-horse, open sleighs. Some of us have even done it. Regardless, the very notion seems to sustain as much good cheer within us as the actual experience.
There’s something about adventure travel through snow or to snowy destinations that stirs excitement—no matter our age. That’s what makes certain destinations particularly popular for vacations between Thanksgiving and Christmas, and other destinations equally popular from December though the New Year’s melt.
Take your family on a cheery sleigh ride. Board a train with your kids to visit Santa. Share with your friends and loved ones the thrills and sense of independence unique to snowmobiling.
Here are some ideas on where to find the best winter fun and holiday adventures. It’s a mini-guide to sleighs, trains and snowmobiles.
Horse-drawn sleighs begin excursions through this winter wonderland on the northwest Lower Peninsula every half-hour on Friday and Saturday evenings. These rides typically have been free for guests at Boyne Mountain Resort properties and Bluegreen’s Mountain Run at Boyne™.
Branson Scenic Railway
200 E. Main St., Branson, Missouri | 800.287.2462
Grand Canyon Railway
233 N. Grand Canyon Blvd., Williams, Arizona | 888.848.3511
Ride to the North Pole to help fetch Santa and bring him back to your depot.
The adventure is named for and based on the bestselling 1986 children’s book and Oscar-nominated 2004 film, so join in the spirit of the story. Dress your kids in their pajamas for the ride, and you’re welcome to wear yours, too. Enjoy singing carols, meeting elves and other characters from the book, sipping cocoa, and munching on cookies. You’ll hear the story read to all passengers on the way “up” to the “North Pole,” and once Santa is safely on board, he and Mrs. Claus will visit every child in every railroad car, pose for photos, and bring each child a special gift.
Passengers don’t disembark the train at any point of either experience, even at the North Pole. But passengers in Arizona may pose for additional photos (at extra cost) with Santa and Mrs. Claus back at the Grand Canyon Railway station’s Polar Room, where kids can also participate in Christmas arts and crafts. Most of the year, the Grand Canyon Railway is famous for sightseeing train excursions to the South Rim of the Grand Canyon.
The ride lasts 90 minutes in Branson and 1 hour in Williams, which is 2-hour day trip from Phoenix. Make sure to check the calendars for the respective railroads, note the differences in schedules and closing dates, and plan your trip carefully.
64 Railroad St., Lincoln, New Hampshire | 603.725.2135
Two different Christmas experience trains chug out of Lincoln Junction Station, home station of the Hobo Harvest Time Express and other seasonal rides.
Journey to the North Pole replicates the same book and movie experience as The Polar Bear Express but sticks even more faithfully to the plot. The experience lasts about 2 hours, 20 minutes, but only about 30 minutes is spent aboard the train. The rest of the adventure unfolds after pajama-clad families, plus the chefs and other characters, step off the train at the North Pole.
There, elves buzz about, a dramatic reading the storybook takes place, children’s expectations build to crescendo, and Santa finally appears to greet each child.
When children return to their seats aboard the train, they discover magic bells left for them as presents. And they merrily jingle the bells all the way home—for reasons the come apparent in the story, in case you’re not familiar with it.
Journey to the North Pole is nighttime fun Fridays and Saturdays from Thanksgiving through Christmas. Net proceeds benefit Believe in Books Foundation literacy programs.
There are daytime Santa trains out of Lincoln, too, and they provide a slightly short and different but equally rewarding Santa experience for you and your kids.
The Ho-Ho-Hobo Santa Express promises each child aboard more individual quality time with St. Nick. Every passenger gets to enjoy a box of cookies and hot chocolate the first half of the 60-minute ride while elves (played by older children) distribute paper and crayons and help passenger children write letters to Santa. The Big Guy and Mrs. Claus hop on at the “North Pole” and spend the ride back doting on all the kids on board. They’ll pose for additional pictures back at Lincoln Junction Station.
The first ride is the day after Thanksgiving. The program continues Fridays and Saturdays until Christmas.
3129 Maroon Creek Road, Aspen Colorado
970.925.4614 | email@example.com
If you enjoy the thrill snowmobiling, the magnificent Maroon Bells area outside Aspen, Colorado, is unrivaled as a scenic destination. And tours that originate from T-Lazy-7 ranch rank as true world-class experiences.
Savvy, experienced guides lead tours all winter from the shadow of the Maroon Bells, the most-photographed peaks in the United States. Tour destinations include Maroon Lake, the White River National Forest, and a ghost town accessed via winding Independence Pass, which is closed all winter to automobiles and trucks.