A new family tradition for us has been to have a White Christmas. We both grew up in Texas but neither of us can ever really get into the Christmas spirit unless it’s cold outside and there’s snow on the ground.
Y’all already know I love New Mexico and our Taos family ski trip a few years ago kicked off our first family snow trip and what has now become a tradition! It was the first experience our kiddos had with snow and cold weather and while it wasn’t always easy convincing them to get bundled up, it was well worth the memories.
Last year was our first Christmas as a family of 6 and we wanted to make it a little extra special. So we road tripped it to Durango, Colorado and boarded the Polar Express!
A little online research led us here. Our kids are still at a super fun age for all things Santa and the North Pole, so taking a ride on Durango’s famous steam-engine train, which looks straight out of a movie, was definitely on our to-do list.
The train is up and running all year round-you can do wine rides on Valentines Day and so on-but we bought tickets for the last ride on Christmas Eve and then high-fived all night about our parenting WIN.
You check in at the classic train station that doubles as a museum for all of the vintage train depot pictures and machinery. There are even vintage benches to sit on while you wait to board. The depot was super crowded and the excitement from all of the kids, wearing their pajamas and anxious to meet Santa, was palpable, which only added to the magical ambiance.
And it’s a Moment when the steam engine train in all its polished vintage glory rolls to a stop at the boarding platform. The elves are waving at us from the windows, the narrator is telling us a little more about the ride to come, and the Christmas music is in full swing. There are even a few of Santa’s reindeer in an ‘observation’ area that you can check out, resting up for their big night ride.
Once you board and take your seat, each particular train car has their own train operator and a few elves assigned to you. I was super impressed with the ticket hole-punching skills they had-each of us had a different letter hole-punched into our golden ticket, and if you put the tickets together it spelled ‘Believe.’ It’s all in the details!
Once we were rolling along to the North Pole, little chefs appeared with shining silver carts and trays of steaming hot chocolate and warm chocolate chip cookies, passed out while everyone sang along to the Hot Chocolate song from the Polar Express movie. At this point we’ve all drank the Polar Express kool-aid and I’m believing in Santa all over again. It was pretty magical.
Then it’s Christmas caroling with strangers-turned-two-hour-friends all the way to the North Pole, where the train briefly stops so Santa can board. Here they created a little Winter Wonderland At The North Pole moment halfway through the ride, with elves singing carols and waving at us feverishly while Santa himself boards the train and passes out beautiful bells from his reindeers’ harness! The bells are so pretty that we hung them on ou tree at home as a keepsake ornament.
If your kids are still little enough to appreciate the magic of Christmas-or if you’re an adult who can still hear the bell-Durango Colorado is a MUST for Christmas.
We planned our whole trip around the train ride and are so glad we did because those memories will stay with us forever. We stayed at the Purgatory Resort in a beautiful townhome and had a great time roasting marshmallows at their daily s’mores station; tubing down hills outside the townhome; and teaching the kids how to ski.
At night we cozied up to the fireplace (it’s wood burning and the resort provides an endless supply of chopped firewood) and during the day we hiked in the beautiful birch-treed woods.
We stayed 5 nights and I didn’t book until around Thanksgiving so THERE’S STILL TIME! So if you’re dreaming of a white Christmas, add a ride on the Polar Express and WIN the holiday this year. And if you need help planning your trip or you want more details, get in touch with me and id be more than happy to help you plan out this memory-making moment!