Normally a winter drive by Scottsdale Road and Indian Bend draws your attention to the light-wrapped trees at the McCormick-Stillman Railroad Park. It's the time when a long stop at the intersection is actually welcome because it gives you a chance to turn your head and enjoy the lights.
This year I decided to actually visit the park for their Holiday Lights. I've never even been to the railroad park during the day; it was time to satisfy my curiosity. Tickets are $15 for the lights and $10 on certain weekdays. So it's definitely a lower priced, less hassle option compared with some of the other Christmas events in town.
The park appeals strongly to the toddler crowd. So admission to the lights includes rides on the train and carousel and pictures with Santa, in addition to the model railroad building. But Christmas is the perfect time to experience fun and play no matter your age (except for the Santa pictures--I didn't go see Santa).
Their train will take you first through those lit trees--but then it goes off to the side where there is a generous collection of Christmas light displays. In fact, it was more than I had expected. There were penguins and leaping reindeer and candy houses and camping bears and holiday saguaros. Along, of course, with the light tunnels you'll tend to see in their promo pictures.
Though short, the train ride alone was fun, even without children, though of course it'll be an even bigger hit for families. And don't pass up on the carousel; carousels are classic.
Depending on your interest in trains, the model railroad building could take up a lot of time or none. Either way, it somehow seems more special at night with all the lights glowing outside. There are a few holiday photo ops, too. For the playing. After all, playing is all what a Christmas railroad park should be all about.