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Arkansas Christmas Train Rides (2024): A Complete Guide

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Last revised: March 12, 2024

By: Adam Burns

If you're looking to experience a Christmas-themed train ride for the entire family, the Arkansas & Missouri in Springdale offers some of the best trips anywhere!  And they don't just host a single excursion, the railroad runs a number a different themed trains.  More information about these may be found further below.

The Arkansas & Missouri is also a successful freight railroad, hosting passenger train excursions for the public throughout the year.  Besides just Christmas rides you may be interested in some of their other trips as well!

Other Holiday Activities

Arkansas is a state that truly embraces the holiday spirit. With its stunning natural beauty and warm hospitality, the state offers a wide range of family-friendly Christmas events that are sure to create unforgettable memories. If you are interested in more than just a train ride, here are some of the most popular events that you shouldn't miss:

Lights of the Ozarks - Fayetteville

Located in Fayetteville's downtown square, Lights of the Ozarks is a winter wonderland that features over 400,000 sparkling LED lights. This event kicks off on the day after Thanksgiving with a lighting ceremony that includes live music, carolers, and hot cocoa. Visitors can enjoy a horse-drawn carriage ride or take a stroll through the lights while enjoying a cup of hot chocolate.

The Garden Christmas Light Display at Garvan Woodland Gardens - Hot Springs

Garvan Woodland Gardens is a 210-acre botanical garden that is transformed into a magical wonderland during the holiday season. Visitors can take a leisurely stroll through the gardens to admire the thousands of twinkling lights, animated displays, and holiday music. There's even a traditional Christmas train ride that winds through the gardens.

Luminary Festival - Bentonville

The Luminary Festival is an annual event that takes place at the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in Bentonville. This family-friendly event features thousands of luminaries that line the museum's forest trails, live music, and hot cocoa. Visitors can also explore the museum's galleries, which feature American art from colonial times to the present day.

Christmas at the Crescent - Eureka Springs

The Crescent Hotel and Spa in Eureka Springs is known for its stunning Victorian architecture and rich history. During the Christmas season, the hotel transforms into a holiday wonderland. Visitors can take a tour of the hotel, which is adorned with hundreds of twinkling lights and festive décor. There are also holiday-themed events, including gingerbread house making and Santa's workshop.

For families looking for a more interactive Christmas experience, the Silver Dollar City theme park in Branson, Missouri, is just a short drive from the Arkansas border and offers a wide range of holiday-themed attractions. The park's Old Time Christmas event features over six and a half million lights, a nightly parade, a five-story special effects Christmas tree, and holiday shows featuring talented performers from across the country.

These are just a few of the many family-friendly Christmas events that Arkansas has to offer. Whether you're looking for a traditional holiday experience or something a little more unique, Arkansas has something for everyone. So, bundle up, grab some hot cocoa, and get ready to create unforgettable memories with your loved ones.

Overview

Arkansas & Missouri Railroad

(Springdale) Some of the nation's finest train excursions do not operate official The Polar Express trips.  Wishing to sidestep the steep licensing fees they elect to host their own Christmas-themed rides. 

One such place is  the Arkansas & Missouri, an active and successful short line freight carrier. The A&M began in 1986 over a long stretch of the old St. Louis-San Francisco Railway ("Frisco") between Fort Smith, Arkansas and Monett, Missouri, a distance of 140 miles. 

During the early 2000's the A&M saw its infrastructure considerably upgraded and the railroad now features continuous welded rail (CWR) and handles the industry's largest and heaviest freight cars. 


Thanks to its friendly stance towards public excursions such trips are offered throughout the year between Springdale, Winslow and Van Buren.  If you have a chance, a ride aboard the A&M is highly recommended. 

During the holiday season they offer a number of Christmas-themed activities including a Children's Christmas Train, the Holiday Express, Holiday Pizza Express, and even Pajama Trains similar to The Polar Express.  

The A&M is well worth a visit anytime of the year!  Their upscale excursions, hosted in well-maintained climate-controlled cars offer some of the best train rides available to the public. 


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It is difficult to truly articulate just how much material can be found at this website. 

It is quite staggering and a must visit!