Trains are a quintessential part of the holiday experience. Kids love trains; and for parents, there’s just so much nostalgia and holiday memories attached to trains. While Dayton has lots of amazing holiday trains, we wanted to share this roundup of top-notch train displays in Greater Cincinnati. Because what’s better than bundling up, cranking the Christmas tunes and taking a little family road trip?
From world-record-breaking displays to hidden gems to real rides with Santa, here are the best holiday trains in Cincinnati:
A Whimsical Wonderland
The 2016 Holiday Show at the Krohn Conservatory has a whimsical new twist on holiday tradition! A Whimsical Wonderland at Krohn invites you to unwrap your wildest imagination and explore poinsettias of a different color! This show will feature poinsettias of royal blue, lively orange, and deep purple that will join the more traditional hues. The traditional garden railway display will be decorated by the Applied Imagination team with new floral accents made from colorful gourds, seed pods, and other natural elements used in the botanical buildings and bridges.
Location: Krohn Conservatory, 1501 Eden Park Drive, Cincinnati, Ohio 45202
Dates: Daily through January 8, 2017
Tickets: Adults: $7, Children: $4, kids 4 and under are free. Get a $1 coupon here.
The Legendary Lights of Clifton Mill
Clifton Mill has an outdoor miniature village on display during the Christmas season that is the delight of everyone. The miniature village has recreations of many of Clifton’s historic buildings plus a 1950s diner, a light parade going down the main street and two trains that go around the village and across a covered bridge on the mill race stream. On the outskirts of the village there is a drive-in movie theatre that shows old film clips, a frozen pond with ice skaters, a football game in progress and a country fair with moving bumper cars and Ferris wheel.
Location: Clifton Mill, OH-72 and Water St., Clifton, OH 45316
Dates: The light display starts the day after Thanksgiving and is on every night through December 31.
Tickets: Admission is $10 per person for everyone age 7 and older. Children 6 and under are free.
The Christmas Ranch
Enjoy a train ride through 1 million dancing holiday lights! Riders will be taken on a night time ride around the village while viewing the dazzling lights and the aroma of Christmas in the air.
Location: The Christmas Ranch, 3205 S. Waynesville Road, Morrow, Ohio 45152
Dates: November 25 through December 31.
Tickets: Admission to the Christmas Ranch: $20/vehicle on Fri.-Sun. and $15/vehicle on Mon.-Thurs. Train rides: $4/rider (kids 3 and under ride free).
Duke Energy Children’s Museum
Mourning the two-year hiatus of the beloved Duke Energy train display? Don’t! The new G-Gauge Mountain Scene layout will surely delight visitors as it make its debut at CMC this year. The fan favorite G-Gauge Garden Railway installation will also bring the holiday magic in the Children’s Museum this winter and will include trains from Thomas and Friends. An O-Gauge train, another new addition to CMC’s collections, will also be on display in the upstairs lobby. This Lionel Pre-war model is as beautiful and timeless as the winter wonderland it runs through. Also: while you’re there, be sure to say hi to Santa, who will be posing for pictures from Nov. 25-Dec. 24 in the Children’s Museum lobby!
Location:Duke Energy Children’s Museum, 1301 Western Ave, Cincinnati, OH 45203
Dates:Train display open all winter.
Tickets:Free for members; Children’s Museum tickets are $10.50/adults, $8.50/children age 3-12, $5.50/toddlers age 1-2 and free for infants under 1.
Holiday Toy Trains
This hidden gem is one of our favorites, and this year’s 25th Anniversary is sure to be better than ever! We love how kid friendly this exhibit is: it’s the perfect height for kids to see everything, there are lots of interactive elements and the little details are just delightful!
Location: Behringer-Crawford Museum, 1600 Montague Rd, Covington, KY 41011
Dates: Daily through January 15, 2017
Tickets: $9 for adults; $5 for kids 3-17; kids under 3 (and museum members) are free.
Christmas at the Junction
Take a magical journey through a Winter Wonderland to the North Pole where you can see the Reindeer & Elf Workshop. Then, visit Mrs. Claus in her kitchen and, of course, visit Santa in his study.* Take your family to see our Main Street Holiday Train displays which offer some beautiful winter train displays that are free to the public.
Location: EnterTRAINment Junction, 7379 Squire Ct., West Chester, OH 45069
Dates: Daily through Jan. 3, 2017
Tickets: Tickets for displays are: $13.95/adult, $9.95/kids 3-12 and free for kids 2 and under. Please see website for other ticket options (some of which include rides).
North Pole Express
During the hour long journey Santa and his elves will make their way through the train spending time with each family. Every child will receive a bell from Santa’s sleigh. We encourage you to bring your own camera, pictures with Santa are allowed and encouraged. Balloon artists will also be on-board the train.
Location: LM&M Railroad, 127 S. Mechanic St., Lebanon, OH 45036
Dates: Nov. 26 and 27, Dec. 2, 3, 4, 9, 10, 11, 15, 16, 17, 18, 22, 23 and 24.
Tickets: Adults: $32 for first class/$22 for coach; kids 2-16: $28 for first class/$18 for coach; infants 1 and under are free. A $2/ticket fee is added for selected premium pricing dates.
The Polar Express
The Polar Express comes to life when the train departs Connersville’s Grand Central Station for a journey through the quiet countryside for a special stop at the “North Pole” to allow Santa Claus to board the Polar Express. Guests on board will enjoy hot chocolate and a cookie while listening and reading along with the magical story. Experience the joy of watching the children’s faces when the train arrives at the “North Pole,” where Santa Claus and his helpers will be waiting. Santa will board the Polar Express where he will greet each child and hand them the special first gift of Christmas during the return to the station. You will surely want to make this an annual holiday tradition.
Location: Whitewater Valley Railroad Grand Central Station, 455 Market St., Connersville, IN 47331
Dates: Nov. 18, 19, 20, 25, 26 and 27; Dec. 2, 3, 4, 9, 10, 11, 16, 17 and 18
Tickets: $32.50 per person ages 2 and up for 5 p.m. & 8 p.m. departures and $29 per person ages 2 and up for the 2 p.m. Sunday matinees. Call 765-825-2054 to purchase tickets.
What’s your favorite holiday train display in Dayton? Leave your picks in the comments below!