The stretch of days from Thanksgiving until New Year’s Eve can be a roller coaster of activity, but the holidays don’t have to be so hectic. Ditch the Thunder Mountain mentality and enjoy a ride on Portland’s Holiday Express (weekends, Nov. 30-Dec. 16), a leisurely way to ease into the season.
Departing from the Oaks Station, adjacent to Oaks Park in Sellwood, this family-friendly train ride cruises between the Willamette River and Oaks Bottom Wildlife Refuge, with Santa taking the helm and his elves spreading their cheer all along the way. This seasonal adventure comes courtesy of the Oregon Rail Heritage Foundation, whose brand-new Oregon Rail Heritage Center in the Eastside Industrial district is now accessible via Portland Streetcar.
The perfect way to awaken the holiday spirit in children of any age, the 5,000-horsepower scenic spins last 40 minutes and run Fridays through Sundays over the first three weekends of December. Conducted in two of the foundation’s lovingly restored locomotives, the rides are a powerful way to create classic holiday memories that will endure through the years. But while these iron horses may have enough might to bound down the rails at 80 miles per hour, don’t expect to go nearly that fast. Because just like these gorgeous trains were meant to be saved, gorgeous scenery and holiday memories are meant to be savored.