The Polar Express Train Rides And Scheduled Dates For 2015
Polar Express train rides have become a wildly popular event at tourist railroad and museums since the film, The Polar Express, was released in November, 2004. Numerous organizations around the country now host a Polar Express train every November or December before Christmas, which usually features a story-telling of Chris Van Allsburg's magical tale complete with hot chocolate and cookies just like in the book. When possible, and if available, a steam locomotive is used to pull the train. Please Note!: The below 2015 schedule is now available. While I have striven to make sure the information presented is accurate to the best of my knowledge, I cannot say-so with 100% certainty. Please contact each individual organization regarding available trains, specific dates, times, and ticket pricing.
(If your railroad is not listed below but offers a holiday/Christmas train please contact me.)
Union Pacific 4-8-4 "Northern" #844 steams through snowy Winnemucca, Nevada with a special excursion during an early spring storm on April 15, 2009.
The Polar Express is a children's book written and illustrated by Chris Van Allsburg, originally published in 1985. As the story goes a young boy is lying in bed on Christmas Eve awaiting Santa's arrival when he hears the sound of a train outside his home, The Polar Express. He is invited by the conductor to come aboard the train, which is filled with children and heading to the North Pole to meet Santa and the elves. During the journey the kids are treated to hot chocolate and cookies, which is what has inspired their serving aboard Polar Express tourist trains today. The story concludes with the young boy being picked by Santa to receive the first gift of Christmas and he chooses a simple, silver bell from Santa's sleigh. Interestingly, though, once he returns home and awakes on Christmas morning he notices that the bell is still in his possession.
Additional Tourist Train Information, Trips By State
Heart of Dixie Railroad Museum: The North Pole Express/Santa Special
is offered exclusively by the museum with kids able to meet Santa
during a one-hour train ride and receive a small gift from the Jolly
Man. The Santa Special is offered every weekend after Thanksgiving (through Christmas) while the North Pole Express is available most Fridays through Sundays from late-November through mid-December.
North Alabama Railroad Museum: The Santa Train
carries a Christmas theme with the kids meeting Santa. Overall the
ride lasts for about 40 minutes and runs during select dates in December.
Alaska Polar Express Train Rides
No events yet known.
Arizona Polar Express Train Rides
Grand Canyon Railway:
Operates the official Polar Express from early, November, virtually every day in December, and the first few days of January. The train departs Williams Depot and
lasts a little over an hour.
Arkansas Polar Express Train Rides
Arkansas & Missouri Railroad: This short line freight system also offers a number of
Christmas-themed activities including a Children's Christmas Train,
the Holiday Express, and even Pajama Trains similar to the Polar Express. Please visit the railroad's website for more information about these trips.
California Polar Express Train Rides
California State Railroad Museum: Lasting about one-hour, the official Polar Express runs most weekends at the museum from late November and during select dates in December.
Fillmore & Western: The North Pole Express
is the Fillmore & Western's own Christmas train offered from late
November through late December. It is quite a spectacle with the entire
grounds decorated, Santa greets
passengers as they board, and a story is read during the ride. The
railroad also hosts several other activities such as a Christmas Tree Holiday Train and Dinner With Santa.
Max's Miracle Ranch: This ranch is located in Biggs and offers a number of activities for the public along with being a working farm. On the grounds they also operate a scale railroad which hosts train rides, including their Christmas Light Extravaganza.
Nevada County Narrow Gauge Railroad & Transportation Museum: Based in Nevada City this organization hosts excursions on its property. While these do not include any type of Christmas or holiday train ride they do offer "Christmas At The Railroad Museum" allowing the kids to visit Santa and receive a gift.
Niles Canyon Railway: Offers the Train Of Lights through late November and during much of December with the train decorated in Christmas lights for the holiday season.
Orange Empire Railway Museum: This museum, based in Perris, features a large collection of both trolley/interurban and standard railroad equipment, some of which is operational. During weekends in December they host their Train To Santa's Workshop where the kids can enjoy a train ride while meeting Santa, his elves, and enjoy refreshments. To learn more please visit their website.
Pacific Southwest Railway Museum: The North Pole Limited
is operated in late November through mid-December on the weekends. It
lasts for about an hour and a half with elves serving kids hot chocolate and cookies followed by a story reading and finally meeting the Big Guy himself.
RailTown 1897: RailTown 1897 offers the official Polar Express train rides during select dates in December. Located in Jamestown, California RailTown
has been popular for many years, operating a variety of steam
Roaring Camp: The Santa Cruz Holiday Lights Train
is a unique experience offered during late November through December where riders can ride through the streets of
Santa Cruz enjoying treats, listening to music, and visiting Santa and
Mrs. Claus. They also host the Holiday Tree Walk, where a daytime train trip to Bear Mountain allows guests to disembark and view the beautifully decorated Christmas trees.
Sacramento RiverTrain: The MagicalChristmas Train
is a 90-minute ride during November where kids and adults are both able to experience a whole host of
activities from meeting Santa to enjoying treats and listening to live
music. Quite an experience!
"Holiday Homecoming." It’s December 1950, a simpler time when passenger trains were a practical way to travel and railroad depots played a major part in small town and rural life. Northern Pacific's Duluth-St Paul train #61, pulled by a Class Q-3 4-6-2, has paused at Rush City, Minnesota depot. A young high school teacher, his wife and child have just stepped off the train to visit his parents for the holidays. After a quick welcome from his father, all will seek the warmth of the 1946 Ford station wagon for the drive home where his mother is preparing dinner. There will be a white Christmas this year, and for this family all is right with the world. Art by David A. Oram.
Santa Cruz & Monterey Bay Railway: This relatively new operation has been growing in popularity, based in Santa Cruz. They now offer the "Train To Christmas Town" running from late November, much of December, and New Year's Day.
Skunk Train: The Skunk Train is based in Fort Bragg and offers the Magical Christmas Train throughout much of December. It is a 90-minute train ride with music, hot chocolate, music, and a visit from Santa himself.
Western Pacific Railroad Museum: Based in Portola, the WPRM offers their Santa Train excursion during select weekends in December this year.
Colorado Polar Express Train Rides
Colorado Railroad Museum: The Colorado Railroad Museum now hosts the official Polar Express train rides around the museum grounds from late November through December.
Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad: Hosts the official Polar Express every day from November through January, 2016. Not only does the railroad feature classic steam
locomotives but the views are just as splendid. It is one of the most
popular versions of the Polar Express offered around the country and
sells out quickly.
Georgetown Loop Railroad: The Santa's North Pole Adventure
is offered weekends from late November through early January. While aboard the train
kids get to meet Santa and enjoy candy, cocoa, cookies, and receive a
small gift. They have also added Santa's Lighted Forest Trains, which run from late November through the end of December. This railroad also offers authentic steam locomotives
further enhancing the ride.
Rio Grande Scenic Railroad: The Train to Christmas Town is operated from late November through New Years Day. According to the railroad this trip entails enjoying the tale of, "Janice, a little girl who looks forward to riding the Train to Christmas Town every year with her brother and Grandmother. This year is a little different though, as readers of the story already know. Accompanied by a bag full of surprises, woodland friends and jolly elves, Janice relives happy memories as she rides the train to Christmas Town once again. The conductor will welcome you aboard and punch your ticket as you find your seat in warm, decorated cars. Meet Bumblebee the Polar Bear, Wabash the Squirrel, even Zephyr the depot cat and laugh along with Elves while they’re busy serving cookies and cocoa, and leading guests in singing Christmas carols."
Royal Gorge Route Railroad: The Santa Express offers different classes
of service and begins in late November with trips usually run daily
throughout much of December. Trains travel to the North Pole to see Santa and
during the ride kids are able to enjoy treats and a story reading. They also now host the Holiday Train from late December through early January.
Connecticut Polar Express Train Rides
Danbury Railway Museum: This organization, which features both displays of historic equipment as well as train rides, offers Santa Trains during December.
Essex Steam Train: Their Santa Special
offers Christmas train rides behind steam locomotives. Trains run from late-November through late-December,
during an hour long where the kids able to meet Santa and Mrs. Claus as
well as receive a souvenir gift. They also now host the North Pole Express. To learn more about their trips please click here.
Naugatuck Railroad: The Santa Express allows kids to see Santa during the hour and a half train ride.
Additionally, the railroad offers two similar trains the Northern Lights
Limited and Santa's Train Workshop. Visit their website to learn more.
Shore Line Trolley Museum: This museum operates historic streetcars and trolleys, offering rides throughout the year. They also host special events, including the Santa's Trolley Winter Wonderland from late November and throughout much of December.
Delaware Polar Express Train Rides
Wilmington & Western Railroad: The W&W's Santa Claus Express
offers an 1 1/2-hour trip from late-November through much of December. The
railroad also offers the uniqueness of steam-power and the train
features chocolate and, of course, a meet-and-greet with Santa. The railroad also now hosts the Holiday Lights Express, using their restored Doodlebug railcar. The car is decorated in lights and a 45-minute trip allows passengers to see the decorated private homes near the railroad.
Florida Polar Express Train Rides
Gold Coast Railroad Museum: This organization, based in Miami, now hosts the official Polar Express from late November through late December. To learn more about dates and pricing please visit their website.
Florida Railroad Museum: The popular North Pole Express offers kids the chance to meet Santa, the latter of which runs only during the day.
Seminole Gulf Railway: The Christmas Rail Boats
is an interesting train ride/boat trip that showcases the Christmas
lights around Punta Gorda. It is offered a few times in December. They also feature a special play for the holidays entitled "A Scrooged Up Murder."
Georgia Polar Express Train Rides
Blue Ridge Scenic Railway: The railroad's popular self-proclaimed Santa Express
runs from early November to nearly Christmas with daytime and
nighttime trips to see Santa available. During the one-hour ride the
kids get to see Santa and his elves, sing songs, and hear a Christmas
story. Also during December they host a longer excursion known as the Night Train To Santa's Pavilion. To learn more about their holiday trips please click here.
SAM Shortline: This tourist line, based in Cordele, offers one-time event on the first Saturday in December known as the Christmas In Plains, providing a train ride to Plains where passengers can enjoy the sights of area Christmas lights and decorations along with a parade and seasonal music. They also hope to book Santa for the trip! Finally, they offer Candy Cane Express, Mistletoe Express, and Breakfast/Lunch/Supper with Santa Train during December.
Southeastern Railway Museum: The Southeastern Railway Museum in Duluth offers their Day With Santa during late November and select dates in December. It is not an excursion train ride but kids can hang out with Santa all day and watch The Polar Express movie inside a coach passenger car later that night.
St. Marys Railroad: The St. Marys Railroad is a historic short line freight carrier based in St. Marys. They now offer excursions, including their Santa Steam Express during late November as well as a few dates in December. The train journeys to Santa's Village and Santa himself rides the rails during the return trip.
Hawaii Polar Express Train Rides
No events yet known.
Idaho Polar Express Train Rides
Thunder Mountain Line: Based in North Bend this excursion line offers the Santa Express during November and December. They also host Dinner With Santa during select dates. To learn more please visit their website.
Illinois Polar Express Train Rides
Chicago Union Station: A special Polar Express now operates directly out of this historic station, hosted in conjunction with Amtrak. The trip is to last two hours running from December 19th through January 3rd.
Fox River Trolley Museum: Based in South Elgin, the museum hosts the official Polar Express during late November and most weekends in December.
Illinois Railway Museum: The museum offers the Happy Holiday Railway during select dates in December allowing kids to experience a train ride while enjoying treats on-board and meeting St. Nick himself.
Monticello Railway Museum: This museum based in Monticello, which also offers train rides on the grounds, hosts the official Polar Express during select dates in late November through early December. They also host Lunch with Santa on the Train in early December.
Southern Pacific 4-8-4 #4449 flies at speed on a cold fall morning through Whitefish, Montana as it heads westbound for Spokane, Washington on October 19, 2009.
Indiana Polar Express Train Rides
Hoosier Valley Railroad Museum: The museum's popular Santa Trains are offered on select dates in December and feature a 45-minute train ride while the kids get to see Santa who gives each a small gift.
Indiana Transportation Museum: The ITM offers Santa Trains during select dates in December.
Whitewater Valley Railroad:
Hosts the official Polar Express trains during select dates during November and December. This excursion line also offers other Christmas-themed rides including the Santa Claus Limited and Metamora Holiday Special Excursions.
Iowa Polar Express Train Rides
Midwest Central Railroad: This tourist line runs its North Pole Express
during late November through mid-December departing North Station usually
behind one of two steam locomotives, a Shay and 2-6-0 Mogul. During the trip kids can meet Santa and receive a small gift.
Kansas Polar Express Train Rides
Midland Railway: This railroad hosts the Santa Claus Express
from late November through mid-December. The train
offers live music on board and, of course, a visit with Santa. Please
note that their trains offer all open-air cars so dress accordingly.
Kentucky Polar Express Train Rides
Big South Fork Scenic Railway: Their South Fork Santa Express
is offered during late November through much of December featuring a one or two hour trip to meet St. Nick and receive a small gift.
Bluegrass Scenic Railroad: This tourist line, part of the Bluegrass Railroad Museum offers their Santa Claus Train ride during a few weekends in mid-December. They also host a Home For The Holidays train on November 28th.
Kentucky Railway Museum: Very similar to the official Polar Express rides the KRM's Santa Express and North Pole Express
offer an hour train ride while allowing kids to enjoy hot chocolate and
cookies during their trip to see Santa all while wearing their PJs!
Trains are offered throughout December up until the weekend before
Christmas. Please visit the museum's website for more information.
Louisiana Polar Express Train Rides
No events yet known.
Maine Polar Express Train Rides
Maine Eastern Railroad: The Maine Eastern Railroad is a popular excursion line based in Rockland and hosts a wide range of special events throughout the year. They offer their Jingle Bell Express during December, a 1-hour train ride where the kids get to see Santa and journey to the "North Pole."
Maine Narrow Gauge Railroad: Hosts the official Polar Express on select dates in late November through Christmas. Please visit their
website for date and reservation information.
Seashore Trolley Museum: The museum's Kennebunkport's Christmas Prelude, held on select dates in early December,
is actually just a trolley ride with a Christmas theme offering patrons
hot chocolate, hot cider, tea, coffee and other snacks while aboard.
Wiscasset, Waterville & Farmington Railway Museum: The recently rebuilt WW&F offers a Victorian Christmas on December 19th only with free rides, a visit from Santa, and horse-drawn carriage rides.
Maryland Polar Express Train Rides
Baltimore & Ohio Railroad Museum:
The popular B&O museum now offers the official Polar Express during late November. The organization also hosts several other different Christmas-related
events and activities, including short train rides, during the holiday
season. Please visit their website to learn more.
Baltimore Streetcar Museum: The museum offers trolley rides and special events throughout the year, including Santa's Streetcar during select dates in December.
Walkersville Southern Railroad: The little Walkersville Southern in Walkersvill, during the holiday season beginning in late November the railroad offers its Santa Trains, allowing the kids to see the Big Guy and enjoy treats during the trip.
Western Maryland Scenic Railroad: The popular Western Maryland Scenic in Cumberland offers their North Pole Experience during late November and into December. These holiday rides take visitors on a journey to Frostburg, usually steam-powered, with Santa riding along too.
Massachusetts Polar Express Train Rides
Edaville Railroad: Based in South Carver, this tourist line hosts the official Polar Express during late November and throughout much of December.
Cape Cod Central Railroad: The Cape Cod Central, located in Hyannis, offers their Train To Christmas Town from late November through late December.
Grafton & Upton Railroad: New for 2015! The Grafton & Upton is an historic, freight-based railroad with a history tracing back to 1873. Since 2008 the company has worked to restored its entire 16.5-mile main line back to operational status between Grafton and Milford. Dates for its 2015 Polar Express rides have not yet been released.
Shelburne Falls Trolley Museum: This museum offers their Moonlight Magic Friday on November 27th. The town is bedecked in holiday lights, stores throughout the town (Shelburne Falls) are open late, and the museum gives trolley rides in equipment dressed with holiday lights.
Michigan Polar Express Train Rides
Coopersville & Marne Railway: Beginning in late November and throughout much of December this excursion train features its Santa Train. While Santa is, of course, aboard the train their version is a bit unique in that a princess reads the kids The Polar Express.
Huckleberry Railroad: The popular Huckleberry Railroad, part of the Genesee County Parks system, is part of their popular Christmas At Crossroads Holiday Magic festivities that begin in late November and last throughout most of December. The train is decorated for the holidays and offers nighttime rides.
Little River Railroad: Featuring real steam locomotives decorated for Christmas their Holiday Express offers kids on board treats and typically runs in late November through mid-December.
Steam Railroading Institute: The SRI offers their North Pole Express
beginning in late November before Thanksgiving and lasting throughout most of December. Another long trip that lasts four hours
riders and kids get to see Santa, enjoy cocoa and other live musical
entertainment. They also offer a Cocoa Class for an extra fare which
includes unlimited cocoa, a cookie, and a souvenir mug. Please note!The SRI owns the actual steam locomotive used in "The Polar Express"
movie, Pere Marquette 2-8-4 #1225 which often pulls the train.
Southern Michigan Railroad: This little tourist line offers the Santa Special excursions during the holiday season from late November through mid-December. To learn more please visit their website or call the railroad.
Minnesota Polar Express Train Rides
Minnesota Streetcar Museum: This museum, based in Chisholm, offers rides in historic streetcars throughout the year while also hosting special events. This includes their Holly Trolley, running during select dates in late November, where the kids can ride with Santa and the car is decorated for the holidays. They also run their Vinternatt on December 5th where the trolley is decorated for the holidays, Christmas lights along the route, and perhaps a special appearance from Santa.
North Shore Scenic Railroad: The railroad, part of the Lake Superior Railroad Museum, hosts their Christmas City Express running between Fitgers and the Duluth Depot from late November and throughout much of December. During the trip guests can enjoy the reading of the Christmas City Express story and a visit from Santa.
Mississippi Polar Express Train Rides
Grenada Railway:New for 2015! The Grenada Railway is a revived short line freight railroad owned by Iowa Pacific Holdings which utilizes 176 miles of the former Illinois Central main line between Southaven and Canton (it was along this stretch that famed IC engineer Casey Jones lost his life in a collision at Vaughan). At this time it is unknown how long and where their version of the Polar Express will operate. For more information please visit their website.
Missouri Polar Express Train Rides
Belton, Grandview & Kansas City Railroad: Their Santa Train
is normally offered a few times during the holiday season where
kids can enjoy a train ride and see Santa and Mrs. Claus at the depot.
Please visit their website to learn more.
Branson Scenic Railway: Based in Branson this tourist line offers popular excursions throughout the year. They also host the official Polar Express during much of November and December.
St. Louis, Iron Mountain & Southern Railway: This excursion line, based in Jackson, offers their Santa Express from late November, throughout much of December where kids can see Santa and The Polar Express is read to all during the 2-hour trip.
Charlie Russell Choo Choo: Montana's only excursion line offers guests splendid views of northern Montana aboard their North Pole Adventure, which lasts for 40 minutes and is offered several weeks after Thanksgiving.
Nebraska Polar Express Train Rides
No events yet known.
Nevada Polar Express Train Rides
Nevada Northern Railway: The popular Nevada Northern, based in East Ely, hosts the official Polar Express during select dates in late November and during December. To learn more about scheduling and
pricing please visit their website.
Virginia & Truckee: The
historic, rebuilt Virginia & Truckee, based in Virginia City hosts
several special excursions throughout the year. This includes the official Polar Express during November and December. For more information about this trip please visit their website.
New Hampshire Polar Express Train Rides
Conway Scenic Railroad: Their Santa's Holiday Express
is offered from Thanksgiving Weekend through the weekend of
mid-December. Trips last nearly an hour with kids enjoying cocoa,
cookies, seeing Santa, and receiving a small gift. They also now host their Journey To The North Pole trip from late November through late December.
Hobo Railroad/Winnipesaukee Scenic Railroad: They host Santa Trains
from late November through mid-December. The trains operate between
Lincoln to Woodstock during the daytime only and last over an hour with
kids able to enjoy treats along the way and see Santa.
New Jersey Polar Express Train Rides
Black River & Western Railroad: The North Pole Express and Candy Cane Limited take visitors to the North Pole Station and is operated from late
November through mid-December with kids able to enjoy treats, sing
Christmas carols, visit with Santa and Mrs. Claus, and receive a small
gift. The railroad has also added a new event, "Story Time With Mrs. Claus." To learn more about these activities please visit their website.
Pine Creek Railroad: Operated by the New Jersey Museum of Transportation, the Pine Creek Railroad offers the Christmas Express where kids get to ride with Santa and trains depart all day from around
Thanksgiving Weekend through mid-December. For more information please
visit their website and plan ahead as this ride, which has been offered
now for more than 30 years, usually sells out quickly.
Whippany Railway Museum: The museums' Santa Claus Special
is a very festive event with the train decorated for Christmas and
Santa stopping by to see all of the kids. The ride lasts for about
45-minutes with kids receiving a small gift en route. The train also
offers special tickets in the museum's restored Central Railroad Of New Jersey club car Jersey Coast. This event sells out quickly so please plan ahead!
New Mexico Polar Express Train Rides
No events known.
New York Polar Express Train Rides
Adirondack Scenic Railroad: One of New York's most popular excursions, the Adirondack Scenic hosts the official Polar Express from late November through most of December, departing from Utica Union Station. The railroad also hosts other Christmas-themed rides including the Santa Train (departs from Thendara) and the Adirondack Christmas Train (Utica). Please visit their website to learn more.
Cooperstown & Charlotte Valley Railroad: The Cooperstown & Charlotte Valley operates Christmas Lights Trains and the Santa Express during the holiday season, the former in early December and the latter from late November throughout much of December.
Arcade & Attica Railroad: The North Pole Express
operates most weekends in December with kids encouraged to dress in
their PJs while visiting Santa and enjoying hot cocoa and cookies.
Please be aware that these trains use open-air cars so be sure to dress
Medina Railroad Museum: This museum based in Medina has a significant collection of rolling stock on the grounds. They also offer excursions and host the official Polar Express from late November, throughout much of December.
Northfork Trolley Company: The Northfork Trolley Company, provides tourist trips on the North Fork of Long Island. They are based in Aquebogue and will host the official Polar Express in 2015.
Saratoga & North Creek Railway: The increasingly popular Saratoga & North Creek now hosts the official Polar Express from mid-November and throughout much of December. They offer four classes of tickets so please visit their website to learn more.
Trolley Museum Of New York: This museum, based in Kingston, operates historic trolleys and streetcars on 1 1/2-miles of track. The organization hosts a number of events throughout the year including their Annual Santa's Run during December where the kids can meet Santa.
North Carolina Polar Express Train Rides
Great Smoky Mountains Railroad: Hosts the official Polar Express from November through early January. One of the premier events offered by any tourist
railroad with three different classes of service during your trip to choose from you can also enjoy the spectacular views of the Smoky
New Hope Valley Railway: They usually offer Santa Trains during select dates in early December each year. To learn more about these trips lease visit their website.
North Carolina Transportation Museum: The state's largest railroad museum, based in the former Southern's historic shops at Spencer, now hosts the official Polar Express from late November and throughout much of December.
North Dakota Polar Express Train Rides
No events yet known.
Ohio Polar Express Train Rides
Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad: One of the most popular excursion lines in the country offers a wide range of events throughout the year. They also host the official Polar Express during much of November and December.
Dennison Railroad Depot Museum: Located within the restored Pennsylvania Railroad depot at Dennison, hosts the official Polar Express during select dates in December.
Hocking Valley Scenic Railway: Operates Santa Trains during late November and much of December with several runs made on each day these special events run. They have remained a popular event on the railroad for many years!
Lebanon Mason Monroe Railroad: The North Pole Express
allows kids to experience a half-hour train ride to see Santa and Mrs.
Claus at LM&M Junction while enjoying treats along the way and entertainment from the
elves. It is usually offered from late November through mid-December.
Northwest Ohio Railroad Preservation Inc.: This organization, based in Findlay, operates a 1/4-scale railroad and hosts several special events, including the North Pole Express during the holidays from late November through early January.
Oklahoma Polar Express Train Rides
Eastern Flyer: New for 2015! This service provides privately-operated, daily passenger service between Tulsa and Oklahoma City. It is owned by Iowa Pacific, a large company that owns several railroads throughout the country. During the holiday season the Flyer will host the Polar Express on these dates from late November through most of December. For tickets and complete information please click here.
Oklahoma Railway Museum: This museum, based in Oklahoma City, hosts their Christmas Train a few times in December among their many other excursions offered throughout the year.
Oregon Polar Express Train Rides
Mount Hood Railroad: The Mount Hood Railroad, located in Hood River, hosts the
official Polar Express throughout most of November and December. They
also offer three classes of tickets so please visit their website to
Oregon Coast Scenic Railroad: The Candy Cane Express
is hosted during a few weekends in December where kids can
see Santa and the train is all decorated for Christmas and is pulled by a
real steam locomotive. They do suggest dressing appropriately the cars
are not always heated.
Sumpter Valley Railway: Offers steam-powered Christmas Trains during the weekend of December 12-13 where kids can meet Santa.
Pennsylvania Polar Express Train Rides
Colebrookdale Railroad: A relatively new tourist railroad, the Colebrookdale Railroad, also known as the Secret Valley Line, began service in 2014 and operates 8.6 miles between Boyertown and Pottstown. They currently offer three different holiday excursions including the Night Before Christmas Train, Santa Claus Train, and Winter Starlight Express. For more information please visit their website.
Middletown & Hummelstown Railroad: The Milk & Honey Line offers the Polar Bear Express and Santa’s Surprise Trains from late November through mid-December with kids able to see the Big Guy. Please visit their website to learn more.
New Hope & Ivyland Railroad: Running from late November through early January, the North Pole Express
includes an over one-hour train ride where kids are able to see Santa,
listen to live music on board, and enjoy hot cocoa and cookies where
they also receive a gift during the trip. These trains are also usually
pulled by authentic steam locomotives.
Oil Creek & Titusville Railroad: The Oil Creek & Titusville, based in Titusville, operates Santa Trains during two weekends after Thanksgiving where the kids enjoy hot chocolate and cookies while riding along with Santa himself.
Strasburg Railroad: The second most popular tourist railroad in the country offers their own version of a Christmas train, the Santa Paradise Express.
The train runs from late November through the weekend before Christmas
and operate between Lancaster and Paradise. The kids get to see Santa
and the trains are always pulled by steam locomotives. The railroad also now hosts the Night Before Christmas special during the holiday season. Finally, they host a Christmas Tree Train in early December. To learn more about these events please visit their website.
Wanamaker, Kempton & Southern Railroad: The WK&S is based in Kempton and offers their Santa Claus Special during the first weekend in December where kids are able to see Santa and Mrs. Claus. The railroad also offers Story Time With Mrs. Claus hosted on December 4th.
West Chester Railroad: The West Chester Railroad, located in West Chester, offers the Santa's Express on various weekends beginning in late November. They also make multiple trips on some weekends due to demand. Finally, a special Christmas Tree Train is offered the first few weekends after Thanksgiving. Please visit their website to learn more.
Rhode Island Polar Express Train Rides
Blackstone Valley Tourism Council: The council is based in Woonsocket and hosts the official Polar Express on select days through late November and much of December.
Newport & Narragansett Bay Railroad: This popular excursion is based in Newport and operates the official Polar Express every year during the holidays. Please visit their website to contact them about dates and times the train will operate.
South Carolina Polar Express Train Rides
South Carolina Railroad Museum: The state's largest railroad museum also operates excursions on its premises including Train Rides With Santa during select dates in November and December.
South Dakota Polar Express Train Rides
Black Hills Central Railroad: The state's only notable excursion train, featuring live steam locomotives, hosts the Holiday Express; a Christmas-decorated train allowing kids to see Santa and
receive a small gift. It is offered on select dates in November and December
Tennessee Polar Express Train Rides
Secret City Scenic Excursion Train: Hosted by the Southern Appalachia Railway Museum their Santa Trains operated just two weekends in December. Please visit their website to learn more.
Tennessee Central Railway Museum: This popular museum in Nashville also hosts excursions, including the North Pole Express on select dates in November and December.
The train also offers three different classes of seating; regular, first
class, or dome.
Tennessee Valley Railroad: Another popular excursion, the Tennessee Valley Railroad offers their North Pole Limited, usually pulled by a live steam locomotive and giving kids the chance
to see Santa, listen to story, sing songs, and enjoy refreshments. They also offer a special holiday dinner train known as the Christmas Special and now also run the new Summerville Santa Special during late November and into December. To learn more about these events please visit their website.
Three Rivers Rambler: Their Christmas Lantern Express is just that, festive holiday trains pulled by a live steam
locomotive. These trains typically operate every weekend from
Thanksgiving until just before Christmas. Please visit their website to
Texas Polar Express Train Rides
Austin Steam Train: The North Pole Flyer
is another Christmas train pulled by an authentic steam locomotive and
offers a very long 2+ hour train ride while the kids get to see Santa, enjoy cookies/hot chocolate,
and receive a small gift. It operates from late November through late December
Grapevine Railroad: The railroad's most popular Christmas train is the North Pole Express
for the kids run for only a few weekends following Thanksgiving. However, they also host Christmas Wine Trains for the adults as well as After Christmas Trains. Please visit their website to learn more.
Texas State Railroad: One of the state's most popular attractions hosts the official Polar Express from late November and throughout most of December. Please visit their website to learn about exact dates and
booking your trip.
West Texas & Lubbock Railroad: The West Texas & Lubbock, normally a short line freight operator, hosts the official Polar Express on its rails from late November through much of December.
Utah Polar Express Train Rides
Heber Valley Railroad: The North Pole Express
takes kids on a magical ride to see Santa aboard the train. During the
trip they can listen to choir-performed Christmas songs, play games, enjoy
refreshments, and take in the beautiful scenery. The train is hosted from late November until Christmas Eve.
White River Rotary Club: The club offers the official Polar Express during select dates in December. For more information about dates and times please visit their website.
Virginia Polar Express Train Rides
No events yet known.
Washington Polar Express Train Rides
Chehalis-Centralia Railroad & Museum: Located in Chehalis, this museum hosts the official Polar Express during late November and much of December. Please note that they also offer Santa Steam Trains not related to the Polar Express during select dates in December. To learn more about these rides please visit their website.
Chelatchie Prairie Railroad: This tourist line is based in Chelatchie and hosts their Christmas Tree Specials during a few weekends following Thanksgiving. Please visit their website to learn more.
Lake Whatcom Railway: The Christmas Train
takes passengers on about a 1 1/2-hour journey during which time
everyone can enjoy on board refreshments, listen to live music, and have
a visit from Santa. For more information please visit their website.
Mt. Rainier Scenic Railroad: Their Santa Express
usually runs from after Thanksgiving until just before Christmas during
the weekends and typically is pulled by a live steam locomotive.
During the trip kids get to see Santa, enjoy hot chocolate and cookies,
and receive a small gift.
Northwest Railway Museum: The Santa Train
has been in operation for more than 40 years now offering a 20-minute train
ride to the Snoqualmie Depot to see Santa and receive a gift. Kids also
receive refreshments during the trip. The train operates every weekend from after Thanksgiving until just before Christmas. To learn more please visit their website.
East Troy Electric Railroad: The East Troy Electric, based in East Troy, hosts excursions in restored trolley and streetcars. They offer a number of special excursions throughout the year including Christmas Trains during the holidays from late November through mid-Decenber. To learn more please visit their website.
Mid-Continent Railway Museum: This museum, located in North Freedom, also offers excursion train rides including the Santa Express during the weekend following Thanksgiving. The historic cars used on this trip are heated with old-fashioned wood stoves during the 7-mile round-trip that lasts about an hour.
Wisconsin & Southern Railroad: The Wisconsin & Southern is a large short line operating throughout southern Wisconsin that has been in operation since 1980. In 2014 it began hosting the Polar Express. The trip lasts about an hour, running from Middleton (near Madison) to the "North Pole." The train normally offers three different classes of seating and will even feature a dome car for panoramic scenic views. For information please visit their website.
Wisconsin Great Northern Railroad: The Santa Pizza Train is usually offered between late November and late December with a 2 1/2-hour train ride for kids to enjoy pizza while riding with Santa. The kids also receive hot cocoa and cookies along with a small gift.
National Railroad Museum: The National Railroad Museum in Green Bay hosts the official Polar Express during late November and early December. To learn more please visit their website.
Wyoming Polar Express Train Rides
No events yet known.
Canada 2015 Polar Express Train Rides
Aspen Crossing Railway: This excursion train, based in Mossleigh, Alberta, will host the Polar Express in 2015
United Kingdom/Britian 2015 Polar Express Train Rides
Dartmoor Railway: For the first time in 2015 the Dartmoor Railway, a division of American-based Iowa Pacific and located in Okehampton, United Kingdom will host the official Polar Express during late November through most of December.
Weardale Railway: New for 2015, the Weardale Railway, which runs 18 miles between Bishop Auckland and East Gate, will host the Polar Express. It is another division of Iowa Pacific. Dates for this year's trip have not yet been released.
Little Virginia & Truckee 2-8-0 #29 steams through the snow south of Virginia City, Nevada with a chartered photo special on March 2, 2010.
The movie version of The Polar Express is a bit different, and a much longer tale, than the original but for the most part it sticks to the original story. To rail fans and historians the most notable aspect of the movie is Pere Marquette #1225, an actual 2-8-4 Berkshire-type steam locomotive, which is still operational and used as the basis of the locomotive in the movie. It, and its tender, was computer generated to the finest detail, including using the sounds of the locomotive while in operation, in the movie. Also, please be aware that only certain organizations operate the officially licensed Polar Express train and they are denoted here by the image above. All other organizations listed here operate Christmas or Santa Claus trains not affiliated with the Polar Express (but are worth the visit!).