Last revised: August 6, 2023
By: Adam Burns
There is only one location in Wisconsin hosting official "The Polar Express" train rides, the National Railroad Museum in Ashwaubenon, located not far from Green Bay. The organization also has a very nice collection of preserved locomotives and other railroad equipment, much of which is housed indoors.
The NRM also hosts train rides throughout the year, including "The Polar Express." More information about the museum may be found further below.
The Wisconsin Dells
The Wisconsin Dells transforms into a winter wonderland during the holiday season, with many festive activities for the whole family to enjoy. Visitors can enjoy holiday-themed light shows, take a trolley tour of the area, or enjoy one of the many holiday-themed shows.
Many cities in Wisconsin have outdoor ice skating rinks, which are perfect for a fun family activity during the winter season. Milwaukee's Red Arrow Park, for example, has a popular ice rink that is open from November through February and is surrounded by festive holiday decorations.
Wisconsin is home to many Christmas markets, which offer visitors the chance to shop for unique holiday gifts and enjoy festive food and drinks. The Christkindlmarket in Milwaukee is a popular choice, featuring German-inspired food and drink, live music, and crafts.
Milwaukee County Zoo
The Milwaukee County Zoo transforms into a winter wonderland during the holiday season, featuring a spectacular display of over 2 million lights. Visitors can walk through the zoo and enjoy the holiday light displays, visit with Santa and his reindeer, and enjoy other festive activities.
Rotary Botanical Gardens
(Janesville): The Rotary Botanical Gardens in Janesville features a stunning holiday light display, with over 500,000 lights and holiday-themed displays. Visitors can enjoy a walk through the gardens and take in the beautiful sights and sounds of the holiday season.
Lambeau Field in Green Bay
Lambeau Field, home of the Green Bay Packers, is known for its impressive light displays during the holiday season. Visitors can drive or walk through the stadium parking lot and view the spectacular holiday lights and decorations.
The Oshkosh Celebration of Lights
The Oshkosh Celebration of Lights is a spectacular holiday light display featuring over one million lights and more than 100 lighted holiday displays. Visitors can drive through the park and enjoy the beautiful sights and sounds of the holiday season.
The WPS Garden of Lights in Green Bay
The WPS Garden of Lights at the Green Bay Botanical Garden is a popular holiday attraction, featuring over 300,000 lights and holiday-themed displays. Visitors can enjoy a walk through the gardens and take in the beautiful sights and sounds of the holiday season.
(La Crosse): Rotary Lights is one of the largest holiday light displays in the Midwest, featuring over 4 million lights in Riverside Park. Visitors can enjoy the light displays, take a horse-drawn wagon ride, and visit with Santa Claus.
Great Lakes Aquarium
(Duluth): The Great Lakes Aquarium in Duluth hosts the largest indoor light display in the state, featuring thousands of twinkling lights and holiday-themed displays. Visitors can walk through the aquarium and enjoy the festive atmosphere.
Country Christmas at the Ingleside Hotel
Pewaukee: Country Christmas is a drive-through holiday light display featuring over 1 million lights at the Ingleside Hotel. Visitors can drive through the 1.5-mile display, which features holiday music and animated displays.
The Milwaukee Holiday Lights Festival
The Milwaukee Holiday Lights Festival is a month-long celebration of the holiday season, featuring holiday light displays, live entertainment, and other festive activities. Visitors can enjoy a Jingle Bus tour through downtown Milwaukee to see the light displays.
Olbrich Botanical Gardens
(Madison): Olbrich Botanical Gardens features a holiday light display called "Gleam," featuring thousands of lights and holiday-themed displays. Visitors can enjoy a walk through the gardens and take in the beautiful holiday scenery.
(Ashwaubenon): The National Railroad Museum located in Ashwaubenon, Wisconsin (near Green Bay) was founded in 1956 by a group of train enthusiasts who wished to launch a museum on a national scope.
Their first addition was Milwaukee Road 4-8-4 #261, which has since been sold to the "Friends Of The 261." This organization has transformed the steam locomotive into a nationally recognized icon as it annually hosts excursions across the Midwest.
The National Railroad Museum (NRM) earned its "national" moniker in 1958 when Congress recognize it as the country's official railroad museum and provided it with needed funding.
Today, NRM features an impressive list of preserved locomotives, some of which are featured inside climate-controlled buildings. Among their many steam locomotives on display is London & North Eastern 4-6-2 #60008, a famous Class A-4 from Britain.
The list of things available are many including train rides, corporate events, theater presentations, group tours, weddings, depots, and more. NRM is among the nation's best railroad museums and well worth the visit.
They will host official The Polar Express train rides from mid-November through early December. To learn more please visit their website.
The Polar Express Dates: