Indiana Christmas Train Rides (2023): A Complete Guide

Published: April 14, 2023

By: Adam Burns

Not every tourist railroad and railroad museum around the country hosts officially licensed "The Polar Express" train rides.  There are several organizations which have chosen to sidestep the great expense of hosting these events and offer their own version of a Christmas train.

And many are quite popular!   In Indiana, the Hoosier Valley Railroad Museum in the historic railroad town of North Judson puts on its own Santa Trains each holiday season.  More information about these trips may be found further below.

Whether its exclusive "The Polar Express" rides or simply Christmas-themed rides, these events usually sell out well in advance so if you are interested by sure to get your tickets early or as soon as they go on sale!  For information about officially licensed "The Polar Express" train rides in Indiana please click here.  

Other Christmas Activities 

Whether you're looking for festive light displays, holiday markets, or fun family activities, Indiana has something to offer for everyone. If you are interested in enjoying Christmas events around Indiana beside just by train, here are some of the best that the whole family can enjoy.

Festival of Trees

The Fort Wayne Museum of Art hosts the annual Festival of Trees, which features dozens of elaborately decorated Christmas trees, wreaths, and other holiday décor. Families can enjoy live music, holiday crafts, and even take a horse-drawn carriage ride through downtown Fort Wayne.  This event is going on its 40th year!

Santa's Village at the Indianapolis Children's Museum

The Indianapolis Children's Museum transforms into Santa's Village during the holiday season, complete with Santa's workshop, gingerbread house decorating, a reindeer maze, and more. Kids can also enjoy ice skating, a Yule Slide, and other festive activities.

A Merry Prairie Holiday

Conner Prairie, a living history museum in Fishers, hosts A Merry Prairie Holiday, an event that takes visitors back to the 19th century. Families can enjoy traditional holiday activities, such as caroling, candle-making, and storytelling, while exploring the historic buildings and festive décor.  They also have an incredible lights display worth checking out!

Holiday Market at the Indianapolis City Market

The Indianapolis City Market hosts a holiday market featuring local vendors selling holiday gifts, decorations, and seasonal treats. Families can enjoy live music and visit with Santa while shopping for unique, handmade gifts.

Christmas Casino at the Rising Star Casino Resort

For a unique holiday experience, families can visit the Christmas Casino at the Rising Star Casino Resort in Rising Sun. The casino is transformed into a winter wonderland, with festive decorations, holiday treats, and even visits from Santa himself.

In conclusion, Indiana offers a wide variety of Christmas events that the whole family can enjoy. From dazzling light displays to festive markets, there's something to get everyone into the holiday spirit. So, grab your family and head out to one of these amazing Christmas events in Indiana for a season of holiday fun and memories.

Guide Information

Hoosier Valley Railroad Museum

(North Judson)If you were a train enthusiast prior to the 1970's, North Judson was a famous junction.  This small town was then served by four major railroads; the Pennsylvania, New York Central, Erie, and Chesapeake & Ohio. 

Three (PRR, Erie, and C&O) were major corridors reaching Chicago; during the mid-20th century one could witness over 125 trains a day pass through the small town and nearly all of the community's residents worked for the railroad.  Alas, as the industry fell on hard times (1970's), each line's use dwindled in importance. 

Eventually, all were abandoned as through routes.  Today, only a portion of the old Chesapeake & Ohio and Erie/Erie Lackawanna remnant still contain rails. 

The museum is housed on a segment of the latter's property (they have also built a replica C&O depot), located to the northeast side of town where a small yard stores their small collection of equipment. 

The remaining trackage also enables the group to host short train rides throughout the year, such as their popular Santa Trains.  These are offered on select dates in December and feature a 45-minute trip where kids get to see Santa and receive a small gift.  These trips usually run four times daily from North Judson at 9:00 am, 11:00 am, 1:00 pm, and 3:00 pm (Central Time).  Exact dates will be posted when available.

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