Florida Christmas Light Extravaganza Train Ride

Dinner on the Seminole Gulf Railway Dinner Train

The Seminole Gulf Railway Murder Mystery Dinner Train runs a holiday special during the month of December that includes a Florida style Christmas Light Extravaganza tour from Ft Myers to Charlotte Harbor’s  waterfront canals. There is no mystery performance on this Christmas Rail/Boat trip, just the spectacular display of holiday lights in a Florida waterfront setting and fine dinning.

We began our  afternoon  Christmas Light Extravaganza train ride around 3 pm  when  we  boarded our  assigned dining car, the Marco. The other dining cars in our consist were the Sanibel, the Captiva, and the Gasparilla.

Before this 20+ mile trip northward through Ft Myers, over the Caloosahatchee River and continuing on up to the Punta Gorda depot even beings, our appetizers were already at our table. Our waitress, Kelly, greeted us and took our drink orders. The couple joining us at our table owned a home in Ft Myers and this was their first train ride since their childhood.

Kelly returned again to  take our orders for diner. The food is to be prepared while we are touring the harbor. The meals are then served on our return trip. The menu includes three choices of generous servings of  Atlantic Salmon, a Vermont Chedder & Spinach Chicken or a Chef Carved Imperial Prime Rib. The prime rib was our choice and a very plentiful portion at that. All the dinners were cooked to perfection for everyone to enjoyed on the train ride back to Ft Myers.

Punta Gorda Depot

After stopping at the former Atlantic Coast Line Depot, we were then transported by bus to the Punta Gorda Fisherman’s Village.

The 1928 Punta Gorda Depot is the only remaining Spanish Mission style used by the ACL in six Florida depots. The depot was restored in 1996. The “Colored” waiting room now features pictures of area pioneers and  local prominent African Americans. The former “White” waiting room includes other exhibits. The ticket office now includes railroad memorabilia, historical items from the local fishing industry and nostalgic items from World War II troop arrivals to Charlotte County.  The depot was added to the National Registrar of Historical Places in 1990.

Passengers returning from the lighted tour

At the Fisherman’s Village ,we boarded the Island Star  tour boat for our journey across Charlotte Harbor. Once across the harbor, we entered the canals to view the homes and their colorful  displays of Christmas lights on their boats. The weather was ideal and the lights were spectacular.

After returning to the dock and taking our bus back to  the train and with everyone safely aboard, we began our return journey to Ft Myers. As I dig into that delicious dinner I’ve been waiting for all day,  we all relax and dine in  the comfort and company of fellow rail travelers. This has been a great Florida holiday train ride. Where else can you experience a 6 hour train/boat ride and dinner while having such a great time?

The Seminole Gulf Railway offers several different themed train rides through out the year, including their ever popular Murder Mystery Dinner Train. They also offer a great package deal with a conveniently located hotel for out of town visitors near the Ft Myers depot. We have done several trips in the past with the Seminole Gulf Railway and they never miss on the details of a great experience.

For us  Silver Streak seniors, this was a great runaway Christmas Light Extravaganza experience. And if you have not ridden the train since you were a child, what a great way to reconnect to the memories gone by of that not forgotten experience.

If you can’t make this excursion, there is always the New Year’s Eve Gala on the Murder Mystery Train, that includes a Champagne toast at midnight! Happy New Year everyone.

The Christmas Train rolls into Punta Gorda station |

Riding the rails of the Seminole Gulf Railway is a trip back in time. Arriving on the Seminole Gulf Railway line from Fort Myers, riders of the annual Christmas Train were greeted by well-wishers at the Punta Gorda Depot.

Publish Date: 12/14/2006 0:00


This is a cab ride from one of our earlier trips on the Seminole Gulf Railway

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One Response to Florida Christmas Light Extravaganza Train Ride

  1. Phyllis Sands says:

    I would love very much to ride on a train. (Is on my bucket Lise 🙂 . My question is how accessible is your train? I am in a power chair but I could get by with my manual.short distances and a few other mobility issues I can use my braces and crutches with help. MY husband would be traveling with me. If you could send my a bit more information concerning the layout it would be most appreciated. You may reach me at thsnds@embarqmail.com. Thank you

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