Looking out over the rim of the Grand Canyon has the power to blow visitors away. The amazing vista is evidence of both the powerful forces of nature that formed it and the raw beauty of undulating rock formations left behind. But crawling out of a cramped vehicle -- carsick, cranky and hot -- might not be the ideal option for many families if they're aiming to forge cherished memories. Enter the Grand Canyon Railway. This 65-mile train line whisks visitors from the closest interstate right to the rim, where families can take a guided tour to scenic points, explore the local historic district or visit the gift shops.
But for parents looking to really wow their kids, the time to visit this train line isn't during spring break or summer vacation -- it's late November and throughout December. That's when the Grand Canyon Railway also operates as the Polar Express. This nighttime rail adventure features cavorting elves, Christmas caroling and chocolate chip cookies. Then the train pulls up at Santa's Village, and the big guy himself gets aboard to give everyone a special gift. That beats a line at the mall any day.