I’m not sure how I have lived in Pennsylvania most of my life and not been to the Strasburg Railroad or Choo Choo Barn, but it’s true. I actually heard about it last year from my mother in law but didn’t get a chance to visit. Until this weekend. We were offered tickets to The Night Before Christmas Train, Santa’s Paradise Express and Choo Choo Barn.
We started out this past Friday with what we thought was plenty of time to get to Strasburg but one thing after another went wrong on our trip and we ended up pulling in minutes after the scheduled departure. For one moment, we thought we had made it but as soon as we had parked, the train pulled away. We were very heartbroken for our kids who are probably too young to realize they missed out, but we will still make every effort to get back out there for the Night Before Christmas Train on one of the next (and last) 2 nights: December 13th and 20th at 7 pm.
We also had the opportunity to stay the night at the DoubleTree Resort Lancaster. I was told about the indoor water playground but waited to tell my oldest about it before we could see it for ourselves. It is absolutely fantastic. The pool has a zero entry with water spouts which was perfect for our 16 month old boy to play in while our 4 year old could stand in most of the pool and go down a small slide or walk through arches sprinkling water down on him. The lifeguards there are wonderful and provided our oldest with a vest because he couldn’t wait to explore the deeper parts. And there’s a large water slide for bigger kids to enjoy.
The DoubleTree was one of the nicest places we have stayed. They welcomed us with fresh baked cookies (which we missed out on by being late for our train) and the accommodations were great. The rooms are very large with plenty of room for our energetic kids to run around. The dining room we got a glimpse of was gorgeous. We wish we had more time to explore! We do hope to visit again for their family friendly New Year’s Eve party. We’ll post more details on that soon as well as other upcoming events they’ll be hosting.
In the morning, we did some quick research for recommended breakfast places near the railroad and found The Springerle House. This family owned cafe had lattes, cappuccinos, hot chocolate, bagels, breakfast sandwiches, their famous cookies, and some of the best, fresh from the oven, cinnamon rolls I have ever had. They were also very reasonably priced. It’s such a cozy place to sit and have breakfast, we plan on visiting again whenever we’re in town.
We were the first to pull in to the Strasburg Railroad (we learned our lesson!) and made our way to the train. I wasn’t even aware that there were all the little shops at the station as well as a cafe. It’s such an adorable atmosphere! We picked the very first car to ride and got some pictures in while we were the only ones there. When another family boarded, we realized there were seats at the front that faced each other and kicked ourselves when they took them while we were sitting in separate rows. But then, the next family on sat down and moved the back of the seat in front of them to make their rows face each other. My mind was BLOWN! What a completely unexpected and clever idea. It really made the ride so much more enjoyable to be able to sit all together.
After we took a break for some lunch, we headed to our last stop at the Choo Choo Barn. I can admit, I didn’t know for sure if I would enjoy this part of our trip but I can now say that I did very much! This display was amazing. The work that was put into it…I can’t even fathom. We wondered how Tom, the owner, managed to work on the model and found the answer outside with a picture of him lying on a wooden board crossing over the model. For Christmas, Tom adds many Santas to the display for visitors to discover and count along the way. Currently, there are 52 Santas hidden, one for each year they have been open. We spotted the most recent addition near the exit (clue: look up). Really, it was the perfect end to our trip.
We were provided tickets to The Night Before Christmas Train & Santa’s Paradise Express at the Strasburg Railroad and Choo Choo Barn in Strasburg, as well as a night at the DoubleTree Resort Lancaster to facilitate this review. All opinions are 100% my own.