The Holiday Express

I’m a borderline crazy Christmas person. Having kids creates a new level of magic in that you are responsible for creating it and in return receive the pleasure of watching it all unfold.

This year we finally made it onto the historic 1880 Train‘s Holiday Express. The ride was out of Hill City, about halfway to Keystone you arrive at “The North Pole” and pick up Santa. On the way there they pass out delicious hot chocolate and sugar cookies. I was shocked at how good they were. After Santa boards the train he comes around and talks to each child while handing out silver sleigh bells. The cost isn’t cheap but for under $100 for our family it was a special and you can’t put a price on memories.

Notes/Tips:

  • You can bring food/drinks onto the train, we went on the 4:15 so I knew my boys would need more then a sugar cookie so I brought snacks in containers.
  • The trains are mildly heated, meaning on a cold night you’ll be comfortable but with your coat left on. Remember you don’t get on the train without waiting in line outside and it’s in Hill City which is probably a few degrees cooler than Rapid.
  • The speaker system on the train is awful and with so many kids you are unlikely to hear what they are saying, therefor you’ll want to read (or watch) The Polar Express before your ride.
  • While it’s a great ride for all ages, our 3 year old loved it the most so I’d say if you only plan on going once, wait for that 3-4 age range. Our 5 year old, who loves trains, had fun but was a little unimpressed afterwards.
  • If your family has a busy schedule or you feel particular about the times book your tickets early, as in November or the first week of December.
  • Take the train during the summer as well, it’s a great experience.IMG_0341.JPG.jpegimg_0334-jpgimg_0086
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New Park

IMG_1909IMG_1895IMG_1901IMG_1906IMG_1897Harper pestered me for a while to take him to the new park. Living in South Dakota it isn’t always easy to find the right day to go thanks to our variable weather. We had some free time on our last nice day of the winter (it was in the 60’s) so I grabbed a chai and took the plunge. It was talked up in our local media as having modern amenities and I didn’t really see it as first but I left the park impressed.

The park is split into different sections, each section has a theme. The longer we were there the more I noticed little perks the park had, like coffee cup holders on bigger attractions. Everything seemed to spin or twist, all structures allowed for climbing (which is a second favorite of Harpers, jumping is first) and as I noticed these I was drawn to play on them myself. The park was clean, well planned, it even had boring, public durable stair climbers for the adults to use as they watched the kids. The park even had a strange large table with lights which was obviously some sort of adult or bigger kid attraction. Without reading the directions Harper and I found it was basically a very large modern whack-a-mole, it was fun and I could help but think how much fun this park would be for us adults after happy hour.

There are a few downsides: parking. We parked at the civic center, there is also some parking in the downtown area. I chose the civic center because it was free without risk of parking tickets and we didn’t have to cross Omaha St. Omaha is a very busy street that runs along side the park. It’s close to the play area but far enough away that you don’t have to worry about your kids running into traffic as long as you are watching them.┬áIf you have a hard time walking a distance then you shouldn’t go to this park. The walk there is further than walking from the back of a WalMart parking lot and you will likely be moving a lot within the play area. You may be able to park closer at the restaurant across the street but I am not sure if the restaurant allows that or not.

All around it is a fun park if you have some energy, unless you have very introverted children that don’t like to run you will probably be fallowing them back and forth through the different parks. This isn’t totally a bad thing though, if you are young at heart you will have no problem being entertained and playing on the equipment yourself.