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Holiday trains make for memorable excursions in Southern Nevada

Southern Nevadan families seeking special experiences for their youngsters should consider a holiday train ride. Long after memories of other holidays fade, most children fondly recall the year they rode the train with Santa.

Special train journeys with Saint Nick are available in Nevada and Arizona. Tickets for these rail adventures are now on sale.

The Nevada Southern Railway and Museum in Boulder City starts the season Saturday with a story-time train ride. It departs every 90 minutes from 10 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., for regular train fares of $10 for adults and $5 for children. This branch of the Union Pacific carried construction material to the site of Hoover Dam during the 1930s. The railway facilities are on Yucca Street, off U.S. Highway 93.

Nevada Southern Railway has been offering Santa Trains every holiday season since 2002. Passengers ride in decorated train cars and share treats with Mr. and Mrs. Claus. The rides are scheduled several times a day for the first three weekends in December for a fare of $6. The railway also offers Pajama Trains on several weeknights, departing at 6 or 8 p.m. Passengers share stories and hot chocolate with Santa. Fares range from $20 to $30. Reservations are available by phone at 702-486-5933 or online at nevadasouthern.com.

If holiday travel takes your family to Carson City, include a stop at the Nevada State Railroad Museum, where Santa Trains are scheduled several times a day the first three weekends in December. Vintage engines and restored cars will run every 30 minutes from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Reserve tickets online at museums.nevadaculture.org/NSRMCC. Fares are $5.

The Nevada Northern Railway in Ely runs Polar Express trains nearly every day during the holiday season. These rides follow the magical adventures of the children from Chris Van Allsburg’s book “The Polar Express,” a holiday favorite.

The Polar Express ride takes place at night with a vintage locomotive pulling colorfully decorated cars. Dramatic lighting at the North Pole dazzles as the train stops for Santa to board. Passengers, many in pajamas, enjoy storytelling, holiday music and treats, as well as the “Polar Express” movie soundtrack. Santa greets each child and distributes special gifts.

Reserve tickets at the Nevada Northern website, nnry.com. Trains leave at 8 p.m. Fares are $39 for adults and $20 for children. Toddlers ride free. Check the website for discounts for military members, veterans and AAA members.

In neighboring Arizona, the Grand Canyon Railway follows a scenic route between the town of Williams on Interstate 40 and Grand Canyon National Park’s South Rim.

The railway adds Polar Express excursions on weekends in November and almost daily in December. Trains leave at 5:30 and 7:30 p.m., and matinee departures are scheduled frequently at 3:30 p.m. Round-trips take an hour and a half. Check online at thetrain.com for scheduling and prices (about $40 for adults and $30 for children) and to reserve seats.

Margo Bartlett Pesek’s Trip of the Week column appears on Sundays.

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