For most of us, Christmas with kids can be overwhelming. And not because of the festivities or traditions, but because of the TOYS! No matter how much you try to be a minimalist with this, your house is soon overrun with cars, dolls, Lego’s and everything else that Target had on their shelves.
After having our son, we quickly learned that we needed to be specific when people asked what they wanted/needed for gifts. One of our favorite things to ask for is EXPERIENCES! Zoo memberships, museum passes, movie tickets, etc. A few years ago my parents come from Michigan to visit over the holidays. We were so excited to have them here and let them enjoy the kids during this wonderful season.
One night, a few weeks before their trip, my parents had asked u if we would like to do “The Polar Express” train ride in Elbe, Washington one night while they were here. I had never heard about it but was eager to go.
They booked the tickets and got us FIRST CLASS! We started watching the movie and the kids loved it. I knew that they would have a great time making memories there with Grandma and Grandpa.
On the day of, we had some unusual snowy weather. We decided to get up early and head to Mt. Rainier for some sledding before our train ride. Since we weren’t expecting snow that year, we didn’t buy chains for the van. Oops.
Rainier was closed to all unchained vehicles. Luckily, we stopped at the gas station/mini-mart nearby and they told us about a great local sledding hill that would be perfect for the kids. Also, it was right across the street at a cute little playground. Luck was on our side!
We let the kids play, sled, make snow angels, fly down the slide and wear themselves out. The sledding hill was perfect for little legs… and the parents carrying them up. There were a lot of families there playing and enjoying the weather.
I highly recommend it if you have kids 5 and under. After changing out of our snow gear, we decided to head back to Elbe for some dinner before the train departed.
We decided to eat at the Mt. Rainier Railroad Dining Co. They had a great menu for everyone. We all got some type of burger or melt with French fries. YUM! It was just what we needed after burning all of those calories at the park. The kids thought that it was amazing that we were eating dinner on a train.
After dinner, we headed to the general stores nearby and did a little shopping. The stores are full of cute souvenirs, foods, local goods, clothing, and COFFEE! Be prepared to say “No” approximately 8,000 times. I had to say “no” to myself as well because everything was so cute! And who doesn’t need more sweatshirts and coffee mugs!?!
While waiting for the train we got to listen to Christmas songs and see some of the characters perform. Once on the train, we were each given a little bell by Santa himself. We found our seats, and since we were a large party and had first-class tickets, we also got a table. A table isn’t necessary though.
It was a little cramped (mostly b/c I was baby-wearing), but the toddlers also couldn’t get up and dance as much as they would have liked. We received cookies and hot chocolate in cute mugs that we could take home.
The performers were amazing and the entire train was smiling and singing the whole time. It put us all in the Christmas mood. The train ride itself was 90 minutes. We went at night and while we didn’t get to see much of the scenery, we got to see the lit-up holiday décor. With the snow falling and the lights glowing- it was simply magical.
I highly recommend this experience- with or without kids. It was a fabulous time. And everyone wears pajamas- so you don’t even have to get dressed up! If you have a specific day or time that you would like to attend, definitely get online and get your tickets as soon as they start selling them. First-class and weekends book up right away. To see the price list and reserve your tickets, click here.