Board the Magical Christmas Train in Fort Bragg

The redwoods, Santa, and the Skunky? It's all choo-choo-ing in the days ahead in Mendocino County.

WE HATE TO BE THE ONE... to break the news, we suppose, though break it, we'd rather not. But here it goes: Though many beautifully constructed and joyfully designed trains can fit under your Christmas tree or along your hearth, the Skunk Train cannot. There's no use getting blue over the fact that the famous red train can't fit inside your den, or even, one might assume, any home in existence, because that's just the way of things. Want it, we might, because the Skunky is so storied and historic and fun to ride, but owning it, and keeping it for ourselves? Not happening, nor should it. Here's the happy ending, though, to that bit-of-a-downer news: While the Skunk Train can't chugga-chugga around our Christmas trees and living rooms, we can journey to the Fort Bragg-based wonder, an on-the-move attraction that takes in some of the most spectacular redwoods, rivers, and fabulous foresty sights in all of Northern California. And if we call upon the Skunky on certain days in December, then we'll be riding the...

MAGICAL CHRISTMAS TRAIN: Nope, the "magical" part doesn't mean you can squeeze the train down to fit in your bag, all in order to take it home, but there shall be enchanted elements aboard, like a visit from Santa as well as cookies and cocoa (and, you betcha, the hot chocolate is served in a take-home souvenir mug, which will fit under a tree, and quite nicely, too). Might you also spy "... a family of white-tailed deer drinking from a river along the way"? Well, your journey will be a full hour, so possibly coming across real (and not animatronic) denizens of the woods is in the Christmassy cards. Some rides are sold out for December 2017, but there's room, as of this late-November typing, on many. So find the magic, find the cocoa, find (fingers crossed) those sweet deer in the distance, and find the ol' Skunky up in magical Mendocino County.

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