From Bedford Falls Train Station in "It’s a Wonderful Life" to "Polar Express," locomotives play a big part in spreading the joy of Christmas. There’s nothing like the festive feeling aboard a cozy train, but these themed rides go one step further by decking the carriages with boughs of holly and filling the carts with carols and more. And furry elves are welcome to ride along with you! Climb aboard one of these pet-friendly trains for an unforgettable holiday journey.
Posted by Billy Francis
Santa’s Holiday Express With Conway Scenic Railroad
For breathtaking views of the White Mountain region this festive season, ‘pawsengers’ should climb aboard a Christmas train ride with the Conway Scenic Railroad, a featured attraction in the latest edition of our book, Ruff Guide to the United States. Santa’s Holiday Express is an hour-long seasonal journey along Conway Branch for families to enjoy. Santa and Mrs. Claus ditch the sleigh and arrive by train to delight passengers on board. During the ride, every child gets a goody bag and can take part in a treasure hunt. For an expedition through New Hampshire’s famed woodland instead, buy tickets for the Bartlett Holiday Special, which rolls through the Saco River Valley in under two hours. All four-legged passengers receive a green ‘Doggy Ticket’ to keep as a souvenir. Santa's Holiday Express begins November 26 and Bartlett Holiday Special begins November 27. Train schedules vary, and reservations are recommended.
Rest your caboose in a guestroom or private cottage at Whitney’s Inn at Jackson. Just a short drive from North Conway, the hotel is situated on 12 acres with a stocked trout pond (bring your fishing gear) and surrounded by miles of hiking trails for you and Fido to explore.
Santa Claus Special With Lehigh Gorge Scenic Railway
Nicknamed ‘The Switzerland of America,’ Jim Thorpe is a great weekend getaway for you and your canine companion during the holiday season. Walk your pup along the streets of the charming downtown village, hike the D&L Trail at Lehigh Gorge State Park, or head straight to the town’s main attraction - the Lehigh Gorge Scenic Railway, one of the best pet-friendly scenic train rides in the country. Climb aboard the Santa Claus Special, an enclosed or open-air coach from the 1920s, for a 16-mile journey through the beautiful Pennsylvania wilderness accompanied by Saint Nick himself. On the one-hour narrated train ride, you’ll learn about anthracite coal’s role in the industrial revolution and enjoy stunning views of the Lehigh Gorge. Join Kris Kringle for a cruise on Friday, Saturday and Sunday from November 26 through December 19 on trains departing at 10:30 a.m., 1 p.m. and 3 p.m.
Your tired pooch can take off his conductor’s hat and spend the night just a few minutes from Jim Thorpe at the Country Inn & Suites by Radisson Lehighton. While Fido relaxes in the cozy guest room, you can warm up in the heated indoor pool.
Magical Christmas Train on the Historic Skunk Train
Departing from both Fort Bragg and Willits in California, get a glimpse of ancient redwoods and pastoral meadows on board the Magical Christmas Train, operated by the Skunk Train. The sounds of holiday music provide the festive backdrop for a jolly jaunt that includes a reading of "Skippy the Traindeer" by Author Shelle Hart and a visit from Santa as he passes through the railroad coach. Guests will be sent home with a goody bag, instead of the usual hot chocolate and treats on board. All guests are required to wear facial coverings while on the train. The Magical Christmas Train will be on the tracks from November 26 through December 23.
Just two minutes from the train station in Fort Bragg, you can rest after your fun-filled day at The Beach House Inn. Pets receive a welcome bag and have access to a private dog park at a sister property half a mile away.
Christmas Express at Catskill Mountain Railroad
Catskill Mountain Railroad invites small dogs in carriers and their owners on a wonderful winter romp along a stretch of the former New York Central Railroad in Kingston. The Catskill Christmas Express is an hour-long train journey through the Catskill Forest to Santa’s Workshop at the North Pole. Santa is a busy guy this time of year, so he won’t be boarding the train. Instead, he’ll wave from the front step and magic up cookies, pocket warmers and gifts for passengers to enjoy on board. Hop aboard from November 26 through December 23.
Roll into the Residence Inn by Marriott Kingston and pretend you’re in a sleeper train for the night with the cutest train conductor in the world, Fido.
CTA Holiday Train
The Chicago Transport Authority decided to brighten up the ‘L’ when it introduced the CTA Holiday Train back in 1992. For the first time in two years, passengers and their pups are welcome aboard the brightest train in town, spreading Christmas cheer at every stop. You won’t have to worry about missing it or catching the wrong train, because this festive iron horse is lit up like a Christmas parade float. Plus, Santa Claus himself will wave you on from his sleigh at the rear. Small dogs in carriers are welcome on CTA trains and buses. The CTA Holiday Train will switch between all eight Chicago rail lines from November 26 through December 22.
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