Last revised: October 12, 2023
By: Adam Burns
There are a few locations offering Christmas train rides in Ohio at the, Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad, Hocking Valley Scenic Railway, Lebanon Mason Monroe Railroad, Northwest Ohio Railroad Preservation Inc.
More information about these events may be found here. However, only the Dennison Railroad Depot Museum in Dennison, Ohio hosts exclusive "The Polar Express" train rides. More information about these trips, and the museum, may be found below.
If you are interested in other popular activities around Ohio during the Christmas season to enjoy with the entire family you might want to check out the following!
Columbus Zoo & Aquarium "Wildlights"
This is an annual holiday lights display featuring millions of LED lights, animated light shows, and other holiday activities. It's a great way to get into the holiday spirit while also enjoying the zoo's animal exhibits.
Cincinnati Zoo's "Festival of Light"
Like the Columbus Zoo's event, this is a holiday lights display featuring animal exhibits, a train ride, and other holiday activities. The event has been a tradition for over 30 years and is a popular attraction for families.
Cleveland Metroparks Zoo's "Wild Winter Lights"
This is another holiday lights display featuring over a million LED lights, themed displays, and interactive activities. The event also includes live music and special appearances from Santa Claus.
"A Christmas Carol" Play
This classic holiday tale by Charles Dickens is produced by the Ohio Theatre in Columbus, brought to life in a stunning production featuring a talented cast and beautiful sets. It's a great way to introduce children to this beloved story.
Gingerbread House Display And Competition
This annual event is held at the Ohio Statehouse in Columbus featuring over 100 gingerbread houses created by local businesses, organizations, and individuals. It's a fun and festive way to celebrate the holiday season.
Christmas Cave at Lewisburg Diamond Caverns
Located in Lewisburg, this unique attraction features thousands of holiday lights, an underground waterfall, and other festive displays. It's a one-of-a-kind holiday experience that's sure to impress kids and adults alike.
The Clifton Mill
Clifton Mill is a historic mill in Clifton, Ohio that is known for its holiday light display. The display includes over four million lights and is considered one of the largest light displays in the country. You can drive through the display, which is open from the day after Thanksgiving through New Year's Eve.
Gingerbread House At The Ritz-Carlton (Cleveland)
The Ritz-Carlton in Cleveland has a beautiful Gingerbread House that is a must-see during the holiday season. The Gingerbread House is made entirely of gingerbread and candy, and it's a great place to take the family for a holiday treat.
Christmas At The Castle
Located in Loveland, Ohio, The Castle is a beautiful historic mansion that hosts a holiday extravaganza during the Christmas season. Visitors can enjoy a guided tour of the decorated mansion, listen to holiday music, and visit with Santa Claus. Kids can also participate in gingerbread house-making and cookie decorating.
Holiday Lights on the Hill: Pyramid Hill Sculpture Park (Hamilton, Ohio)
This annual event features a drive-through holiday light display that showcases over 2 million lights. Visitors can enjoy a two-mile drive through the park while admiring the festive displays. The park also offers horse-drawn carriage rides and a visit with Santa Claus.
Holiday Junction at Cincinnati Museum Center
The Cincinnati Museum Center at Union Terminal hosts Holiday Junction, which is a festive train display that features over 300 toy trains, historical displays, and interactive exhibits. Visitors can also enjoy an ice-skating rink and a holiday-themed movie in the museum's theater.
This museum is located in the town of Dennison's restored Pennsylvania Railroad depot completed in 1873.
The single-story brick structure is your typical station, a beautiful gingerbread design with large dormers and overhangs.
It sits along a still-active component of the Pittsburgh, Cincinnati, Chicago & St. Louis, a PRR subsidiary also known as the Panhandle Route, which once linked Pittsburgh with St. Louis.
After Conrail lost interest in the corridor, eventually abandoning large sections, the city of Dennison stepped in to save their depot, acquiring it from the railroad in 1984.
It has since undergone several restoration phases since 1992. During the last 30+ years the organization has collected several artifacts, freight and passenger cars, and even two steam locomotives; Ohio Electric Power 0-4-0F (fireless) #4759 and Chesapeake & Ohio 2-8-4 #2700 (a 1943 product of American Locomotive).
Both locomotives sit on display. In cooperation with freight line Columbus & Ohio River Railroad the Dennison Railroad Depot Museum is able to host official The Polar Express train rides during select dates in December.
The Polar Express Dates: