Family Fun

All Aboard!: Santa’s Trolley Winter Wonderland

Santa's Trolley East Haven
Written by Timothy Stobierski

What could be better than a trolley ride through beautiful East Haven in the wintertime? Well, a trolley ride with Santa and presents, of course!

Everyone thinks that Santa always travels by reindeer, but the truth is, when he’s in East Haven, he travels by trolley. (Just like how he travels by tuk tuk in Thailand, gondola in Italy, and, well, reindeer in Siberia.)

Whether you’re looking for a fun holiday activity for you and your family or you’re just a train-nut who gets excited about all things transportation, the Santa Trolley Winter Wonderland ride is just what old St. Nick orders to put you in the holiday spirit.

About the Trolley Ride

Santa’s Trolley Winter Wonderland is an attraction run every year by The Shore Line Trolley Museum in East Haven. It runs Saturdays and Sundays during December, both during the day and night, offering children the opportunity to meet Santa before Christmas.

Before the ride, you can inspect the museum’s antique trolleys which have been decorated in old-fashioned holiday decorations, and a model train layout that will remind you of the old sets you used to set up around the Christmas tree in anticipation of the holidays.

On board the trolley, families will ride through the beautiful winter scenery of the area and enjoy cookies with hot chocolate before queuing up for the face-to-face meeting with Santa. Each child received a small gift, and can pose for photos for parents (perfect for the annual Christmas card!).

At night, the museum transforms itself into a winter wonderland of festive holiday lights and decorations.

The trolley ride makes for a great family holiday outing for everyone, but is especially designed for younger children, who will take the most out of the whimsical decorations (which make me think of Polar Express).

Santa's Trolley, East Havin

This just looks like a scene out of The Polar Express, doesn’t it?

About the Museum

The Shoreline Trolley Museum is operated by the Branford Railway Association with the mission of educating the public about the story of the trolley and other forms of historical mass transit. The Branford Electric Railway is the oldest continuously-operated suburban trolley line in the US, and is listed as a National Historic District.

The museum caters to history and train buffs, containing nearly 100 antique vehicles, more than 50,000 archival photos, and more than 1,000 other related items and paraphernalia like tokens, hats, advertisements, and ticket punches.

Visitor Info

Where: 17 River Street, East Haven
When: Fridays (December 2, 9, 16), Saturdays, and Sundays (December 3, 4, 10, 11, 17, 18) from 10:30am to 8pm
Costs: Tickets are free for children under the age of 2, $6 for children aged 2-15, $10 for adults, and $8 for seniors (62+), and can be purchased at the door or online.

While you’re in the area, be sure to check out the New Haven Fantasy of Lights before you head home! It only takes 15 to 20 minutes to drive through and will be the perfect end to your Christmas-themed outing. If you’re lucky, the car ride will even help put your kids to sleep!

About the author

Timothy Stobierski

Tim Stobierski is a Connecticut native and a freelance writer and editor who has worked with a number of publishers including Taunton, Abrams, and Yale University Press. He has written for Grow Magazine, The Huffington Post, The Hartford Courant, The Chronicle of Higher Education, and many other publications. His first book of poetry, Chronicles of a Bee Whisperer was published in 2012 by River Otter Press.

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