The Griffith Park holiday train rides have been dazzling families for decades and it’s undoubtedly one of the most beloved activities for most Angelenos. You can step aboard a vintage train at the Griffith Park & Southern Railroad and take a mile-long loop that winds through glittering festive scenes filled with thousands of colorful lights for a mere $7. Anyone under the age of 18 months will get to travel for free with an adult ticketholder, so it does make for an affordable night out with kids.
The Holiday Light Festival Train Ride runs nightly from November 25 through January 6 with the first train departing at 5 p.m. While online tickets tend to sell out before you can blink, there are a few reserved to buy in person for every round. Just note that if you do decide to buy them at the ticket box, you can expect to wait for up to 45 minutes in the ticket line and they’re sold on a first-come-first-serve basis. Then, you’ll also need to queue up for the boarding which could take around an hour. Luckily, you’ll have the enchanting setting and model trains to marvel at as you wait, just make sure you layer up for this outdoor adventure.
Those who manage to get tickets will get to hop onto the open-air train for a magical 10-minute trip. Your journey will take you threading through open meadows filled with Christmas decorations, rows of glowing candy canes, through a kaleidoscopic tunnel of lights and there’s even a section dedicated to the Grinch.
As you voyage along the figure eight track you’ll be traveling back in time with each of the trains being meticulously modeled on locomotives ranging from the 1800s through to the 1950s. Griffith Park & Southern Railroad was opened in 1948 by Samuel Borstein, a train ride operator from Kansas City.
Throughout the 60s and 70s, a group of train enthusiasts and engineers known as the Railroad Supply Company (RSC) lovingly built working replicas of steam trains which make up the Griffith Park & Southern Railroad. From The Colonel Griffith a version of the 2-8-0 “Mogul” locomotive built by the premier train builder Severn Lamb to the 1950s-style streamliner built by the All American Streamliner Co. of Los Angeles, you’ll have a ton of craftsmanship to appreciate.
Location: Griffith Park & Southern Railroad at 4400 Crystal Springs Drive, Los Angeles