Revelers seeking a little holiday magic will feel like they’ve stepped into a Christmas storybook thanks to three holiday trains within an easy drive of the Bay Area and greater Sacramento regions.
Rail adventures depart Willits, West Sacramento and Fort Bragg beginning in late November and run through the month of December.
All of the classic enchantments will be in place — choose from experiences that include Santa’s workshop, hot chocolate and treats, glistening decorations, melodic carols, games, elves and even Santa himself. But it’s the awe-inspiring setting of Northern California’s flora and fauna that makes the experiences truly unforgettable.
These distinctive Christmas-themed outings are presented by Sierra Railroad, which operates the iconic Skunk Train in Willits and Fort Bragg, and the River Fox Train in Sacramento. Booking early is important as passenger seats tend to sell out.
Willits, Family Friendly, Nov. 26 through Dec. 31: Passengers are invited to sport a cozy sweater or holiday pajamas as they board the train for the Mr. Skunk and the Giant Christmas Tree adventure at the historic depot in Willits.
The 16-mile roundtrip rail journey into the redwood forest is brimming with cheer as guests enjoy reindeer games, Christmas carols and seasonal treats (including adult beverages for mom and dad). The destination is Santa Mr. Skunk’s Wonderful Workshop, which consists of a giant redwood tree bedecked in Christmas splendor. On return to the Willits train depot, guests are invited to climb aboard a historic ‘Skunk’ motorcar for a special photo opportunity with Mr. Skunk himself.
Trips average a duration of two hours.
Tickets are $59.95; and other prices apply for dogs and VIP passes. Trains leave from downtown Willits located just off Highway 101. For tickets, visit skunktrain.com or call (707) 964-6371 for more information.
West Sacramento, Family Friendly, Nov. 26 through Dec. 23: All aboard the River Fox Magical Christmas Train in West Sacramento for an outing that will usher friends and families into the spirit of the season.
This is a chance to journey with Santa and his elves through the countryside of Yolo County with views of ivy-covered woodlands, colorful orchards and the glistening Sacramento River. During this hourlong, 10-mile round trip, guests enjoy hot chocolate, holiday cookies, a story time and even adult beverages for parents.
Festive photo opportunities are also a joyful part of the day. It’s an easy location to reach, just west of Sacramento International Airport off Interstate 5.
The River Fox Magical Christmas Train tickets are $55 for adults, $45 for children ages 2 through 12, and $10 for ages two and younger. Book early, some train times are already sold out.
For Adults and Small Groups, Nov. 25 through Dec. 16: The River Fox is also launching the new Holiday Spirit Express, an hour-and-a-half train experience that is ideal for individuals and groups aged 18 and older.
Departing on Fridays at 7 p.m. (Nov. 25 through Dec. 16), this train includes outdoor and indoor seating. Immersive entertainment will light up the night via the train’s merry band of elves; a strolling musician; a visit from Santa; charcuterie appetizers; and dessert.
Two beverage tokens (alcohol or non-alcohol) are included with train ticket. Alcohol and snacks may be purchased aboard the train as well. First Class tickets include all of the amenities and reserved seating for $149 per passenger. Happy Hour Class tickets are $99 with a la carte amenities, and seating is first come, with limited indoor seating.
For tickets, visit riverfoxtrain.com/experiences/holiday-spirit-express or call (800) 866-1690.
Fort Bragg, Family Friendly, Nov. 26 through Dec. 31: Departing from the Fort Bragg depot and decorated with festive seasonal flair, the Skunk Train’s Pudding Creek Express traces the first tracks laid down by the California Western Railroad.
Passengers enjoy a scenic seven-mile round trip along the beautiful Pudding Creek Estuary, which is home to blue herons, ospreys, egrets, and more.
This one-hour and 15-minute journey stops at the Glen Blair Junction where guests may stretch their legs amid the ancient redwoods. Railbikes are another popular option for further exploration at a more leisurely pace. For tickets and information, visit skunktrain.com or call (707) 964-6371.