Missing the feels of Christmas in SoCal? Maybe you now have kids and don’t know what to do. Can you think of some holiday traditions you celebrate every year? Well for us, we’re always adding new ones especially to accommodate our growing family, and it’s all about making memories with the littles right now. One of the best memory I have when my boys were younger is taking them on a Christmas Train to the North Pole to see Santa at Irvine Park Railroad. The kids get to do fun themed games where everyone gets a prize, then they ride a train to visit Santa. They string lights throughout the village so when it gets dark, you’ll see all the twinkling lights. I recommend getting the first reservation to see Santa so you can enjoy the park both during daylight and at night time. It also has the best lighting for photos with Santa, and you’ll avoid some of the crowd. Hint: On the way, we go through a magic tunnel fun for all ages!
North Pole/Photos with Santa
Upon arriving at the North Pole, we all line up anxiously to visit with Santa and as we waited, we enjoyed hot chocolate and cookies from the Elf House Snack Bar. Other items available for purchase: coffee, freshly-popped popcorn, and hot pretzels, but if you’re really hungry, a full kitchen menu is available back at the train station. A 5×7″ photo with Santa will be available for purchase as you exit the stage, but they will also allow you to use your own camera. The photo taken below was from three years ago. My boys have grown so much already!
We decorated cookies in the village.This can get a little messy, but they have wipes, and they give you a little sandwich bag to carry it in. Although we didn’t eat it til much later and it got smashed, it’s always fun to see the kids try. They love this activity! (1 ticket each.)
Write a Letter to Santa
Every year my kids enjoy outings like these more and more each year. We recommend going early to take advantage of the activities, take pictures, and ride the train as early as possible (ride between 5pm-6pm) especially if you have small children. It’s still fun if you go later than that, but your pictures might not turn out because you lose natural lighting. You can enjoy the park before and after dusk if you go early enough.
Thanks, Irvine Park Railroad, for yet another unforgettable experience!
Irvine Park Railroad (located inside of Irvine Regional Park)
1 Irvine Park Road
Be sure to make online reservations because they sell out. Please check their website for most updated information!
Important Note about Christmas Train
The train departs every 15 minutes from the train station and drop passengers off at the North Pole. Christmas Train tickets may be purchased ONLINE ONLY starting November 1st. Boarding times are any time during your reserved hour, and there will be a boarding line. Please note that tickets cannot be purchased in person. I already see that some time slots are sold out. Train tickets are $12.00 per person. Children younger than 24 months ride free. During the day, you can visit Irvine Regional Park’s other activities including Wheel Fun Rentals® at Irvine Park: bike rentals, paddle boat rentals, the Orange County Zoo, and pony rides. Dogs and professional videography/photography are prohibited. Hours are subject to change without notice.