Riding the Holiday Rails

Riding the Holiday Rails

The gentle clickety-clack rocking while passengers take in panoramic views of cranberry bogs, salt marshes, and quaint Cape Cod villages transports riders on the Cape Cod Central Railroad holiday excursions to a world far removed from the season’s hustle and bustle. From elegant dinners and dramatic murder mysteries to magical rides on the North Pole Express, travelers of all ages can ramble on Cape Cod’s generations-old tracks and experience the romance of the rails.

On the Thanksgiving Dinner Train, departing from Hyannis at 1 p.m. on Nov. 24, the passing scenery of hidden Cape Cod creates a captivating setting as the train makes its way toward the canal and over the railroad bridge, before returning to Hyannis three hours later. Bring an appetite: A leisurely five-course meal featuring a choice of traditional turkey, pistachio-encrusted salmon, herb-encrusted tenderloin crevette, or vegetarian roast vegetable manicotti is served onboard.

On Dec. 2, 3, and 4, the Sandwich Chamber of Commerce sponsors seven trips for children and families aboard the North Pole Express as part of its Holly Days festivities. During the 45-minute ride from Sandwich to West Barnstable—Cape Cod’s North Pole—Santa strolls through the train and his helpers read The Polar Express by Chris Van Allsburg. When they arrive at the North Pole, volunteer elves and reindeers greet the children at a tent where they enjoy hot chocolate and cookies and have their picture taken before returning to Sandwich station. “The children firmly believe they have been to the North Pole and back,” says Dede Kiely, Cape Cod Central Railroad vice president for sales and marketing. All children receive a bell as a memento of their trip.

Grown-ups have their own fun on the Murder Mystery Train, which takes place on Dec. 10, from 6 to 9 p.m. Costumed cast members from the Cape Cod Cabaret mingle with guests during a five-course dinner as they try to solve a Dickens-themed murder. “It has a good plot and festive holiday music,” Kiely says. “And usually, someone gets decked in the halls.” For information and reservations on the dinner trains, visit or call (508) 771-3800. To reserve a seat on the North Pole Express, visit
–Susan Spencer


Susan Spencer is a freelance writer and photographer who lives in Whitinsville and Brewster, MA. She contributes frequently to Cape Cod Life Publications.

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