I have to be honest. It doesn’t take much to get me choked up this time of year.  What can I say? I’m a big pile of Yuletide mush. Everything from holiday songs and movies to the look of  joy on my daughter’s face this time of year can evoke an emotion in me.  They all give me that tingly, sniffly, eye-watering, cough-to-hide-the-tears feeling. And that is what I got on the North Pole Express at the New Hope and Ivyland Railroad.

Think Polar Express, but take out the hypnotic animation and replace it with good old-fashioned real people. A man goes from car to car playing Christmas songs on his banjo as you sing along and snack on cookies and hot chocolate in the process. Your children dress in their pajamas just like in the movie. But unlike the movie, Santa and Mrs. Claus themselves are on board. They come around to every child to take a picture, ask what they want for Christmas, and give them each a special little gift.

The whole thing is adorable and takes about an hour and a half as you watch the Bucks County countryside roll by out the window. Just over an hour from Baristaville, this train ride is fun, festive, and memorable. It’s become an annual tradition for us. Tickets are a little pricey and be careful if you’re parking in the lot adjacent to the railroad entrance. That’s pricey too.

But I must say, it’s worth it. For nothing else than to see the look on your child’s face, and maybe even to see a grown man get choked up.

North Pole Express
Who: All ages.
What: Special holiday train, sip hot cocoa and enjoy cookies while Santa visits with each child and presents them with a special gift. Also onboard, local musicians play & sing Christmas carols for all to enjoy and participate in. Children are encouraged to come dressed in the pajama’s as well
Where: New Hope, PA
When: Most days, now through December 31st
Cost: $36-38, $10.25 for children under 2. For more information: New Hope Railroad 

Justin is a husband, dad, and writer who also writes about crying during Christmas season at Daddy Knows Less.