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Every year since we moved back to New Jersey, the Mister and have made it a tradition to visit Philadelphia during December. We love to visit Macy’s to see their timeless light show and Dicken’s Village, the Comcast Center to see their Holiday Spectacular shown on multiple screens across a giant wall in their lobby, eat lunch at the Reading Terminal Market, and go shopping at the Made in Philadelphia Market and Christmas Village. (you know I love to shop, this should come as no surprise) It is seriously one of my favorite days of the year. We usually coordinate the day with family in Pennsylvania so that we can spend a day of holiday spirit together.
We always, always, always take the Patco train into the city. There’s just something magical (to me, at least) about riding the train into the city. The boys and I sit in the seats, with our faces pretty much plastered to the windows, just watching the world go by outside. As a bonus, the Mister certainly doesn’t miss avoiding driving into the city…usually enough to cause a headache for anyone.
A few years ago, I saw an ad somewhere for the Patco Silver Sleigh. Let me just tell you, if you can swing making plans to go into the city for this ONE day that the Silver Sleigh is available…DO IT!! We’ve planned our trip around this event every year and it’s made the day even better than it was before (which I didn’t even realize was possible!).
What’s the Patco Silver Sleigh? Well, there is one day a year (this year, it’s December 1!) where Patco runs a very special train to and from the city. This train is decorated for the Christmas holiday, has Christmas music piping through the speakers, and even has some very, VERY special passengers: Santa and his elves! During your trip on the train, Santa and his elves stop to visit the children, take photos, and will usually give each one of them a candy cane. Seriously…it’s so much fun.
One of the best parts? The Patco Silver Sleigh is the same price as the “regular” trains, so you’ll get more bang for your buck.
Since we’ve traveled into Philadelphia for a quite a few years, here are some tips I’ve found to be helpful:
Parking at Patco stations is FREE after 10am. If you arrive at the Patco parking lot before 10am, you will need to pay for parking. Some stations allow you to pay for parking with cash, but some stations only allow for parking to be paid with a Freedom Card. Check your local station to plan ahead if you will be departing (or even arriving) before 10am.
Tickets for the Patco Silver Sleigh can be purchased at the train station. At the entrance, there will be a few machines that accept cash, credit, or the Freedom Card as payment. If you have littles under the age of 5, they ride for FREE! Keep this in mind as you purchase your tickets because it’s *possible* we’ve purchased tickets in haste before and have paid for a free child.
Riding the Train
If you’ve ever been on the Patco, you’ll know that the trains can get pretty crowded pretty quickly. Now, in my experience, the trains aren’t terribly crowded, but there will most likely be more people riding the trains on Saturday when the Patco Silver Sleigh is in service. With that being said, I’m going to recommend boarding at one of the first stations if possible.
Not only will you and the kids get to enjoy a longer train ride, but you’ll have a better chance of getting seating that’s fairly close to one another. Lindenwold, Ashland, and Woodcrest are the first three stations that Patco has in New Jersey.
I’m just going to say it: strollers are a pain in the butt with public transportation. While riding the train, you’ll need to make sure your child is NOT in the stroller and that the stroller can be folded up pretty easily. These Patco Silver Sleigh trains can get crowded pretty quickly, so I recommend getting on at one of the first stations if you need to use a stroller. Once you arrive in Philadelphia, you’ll most likely be walking up a few sets of stairs to get to street level unless you can find an elevator (I have not been successful with this so far – not saying that there aren’t elevators, but they aren’t exactly convenient). If possible, you’re going to want to bring as lightweight a stroller as possible. I always made The Mister carry the strollers up the steps, but I’m just going to assume that they can be a beast to carry up and down steps.
Enjoy your day of family fun! You may want to bring an extra battery pack for your phone (like this one: https://amzn.to/2E2Ntbs), but remember to put the phone down and just enjoy the moments. I like to pack a backpack with snacks and drinks because I KNOW the little people will be hungry and thirsty before long, too!
Let us know if you’re planning on attending or have ridden the Santa’s Silver Sleigh before! We’d love to hear your experiences and tips!