What child doesn’t love a train and what adult isn’t instantly transported to childhood at the sound of a train whistle? Holiday-themed trains abound in Santa Cruz this year and my family is getting into the spirit of the season! We recently had the opportunity to preview “The Train To Christmas Town,” a train ride that brings the storybook by the same name to life on the newly established Santa Cruz and Monterey Bay Railway.
From the moment the train pulled in front of Neptune’s Kingdom at the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk, I could see my children’s eyes light up and the magic begin. “All aboard!” the conductor yelled and we boarded the festively decorated car where tables set with ginger cookies and hot- well, the perfect temperature for kids- cocoa invited us to sit and enjoy the ride.
On our particular trip we were treated to live music by Trout Fishing in America, the Grammy-nominated duo who made the soundtrack for “The Train To Christmas Town.” It’s a mix of old-fashioned carols and humorous originals that are perfect for sing-alongs and will normally be piped through speakers in each car. While the music played, a cast of characters from the book danced in the aisles and visited with families at each table. We interacted with Bumblebee the Polar Bear, Wabash the Squirrel, and Zephyr the Cat. There were also elves, Janice, the little girl who is the story’s main character, and of course, Santa who hops on board bearing gifts at the “Christmas Town” stop near Davenport. It was fun to see that my four kids, ages 3, 5, 7, and 8 are no longer harboring any Santa Claus fears and actually enjoyed talking to him.
“The Train To Christmas Town” officially kicks off on Friday, November 23, and runs weekends and select weekdays through January 6. This could be the year your family starts a new holiday tradition and rides a train in Santa Cruz, but first, some tips:
*Copies of The Train To Christmas Town by Peggy Ellis are available at Bookshop Santa Cruz and online.
*Make sure your kids don’t think they are actually going to “Christmas Town” and getting off the train. They will stay on board for the entire ride which runs about one hour.
*Once you return, be sure to spend any excess cookie and cocoa energy at the Boardwalk since all train tickets include a choice of miniature golf, laser tag, or arcade games.
Tickets can be purchased here. The cost is $25 for children ages 2-12 and $35 for ages 13-adult. Children under 2 are free when riding on an adult’s lap.