holiday train ride

All Aboard These Magical Holiday Train Rides

Have you ever wanted to take a magical ride on the Polar Express? In the Northeast, you can! Many vintage railroads in the region are now scenic railways. And there’s nothing better than taking a holiday ride on a snowy evening. Here are some of the best winter and holiday train rides near you.

Adirondack Railroad, N.Y.

The Adirondack Railroad brings the Polar Express train ride to New York. The popular holiday story comes to life, with cocoa, cookies, a narrated story time, carols and even a visit from Santa himself. Don’t forget to wear your pajamas! You can can catch the two-hour nonstop train at Utica’s Union Station. Runs through Dec. 18.

Historic Blackstone Valley, R.I.

The Blackstone Valley Polar Express Train Ride is the hottest golden ticket in town. It’s already sold out for 2023, but you may want to add it to your list of things to do next Christmas!

Experience the magic of “The Polar Express” in author Chris Van Allsburg’s home state of Rhode Island. The 90-minute, round-trip train ride departs from the historic Blackstone Valley station in Woonsocket and is filled with singing, games, hot chocolate and a reading of the book, topped off with a visit from Santa. Before getting on the train, a stage show, photos with characters and more kick off the fun.

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Cape Cod Central Railroad, Mass.

You can also board Cape Cod Central Railroad’s Polar Express train ride, running along the shoreline of Massachusetts. Passengers will receive punched golden tickets, enjoy dancing waiters, hear the story that inspired the ride and meet Santa and his elves. It’s a 90-minute round trip from the Buzzards Bay train depot in Bourne, Mass. Select nights through Dec. 23.

Conway Scenic Railroad, N.H.

If you’re feeling jolly, make sure to catch Santa’s Holiday Express on the Conway Scenic Railroad, weekends through Dec. 23. The holiday-themed journey takes guests on a 90-minute round trip to meet Santa in the village of North Conway, and each child receives their own cookies and milk.

Conway Scenic Railroad also offers the Snow Train, a wintry voyage to Attitash Mountain Resort. The train stops here for about 20 minutes, giving passengers who wish to explore the resort a chance to disembark for a day of skiing, skating and more snow-filled activities.

Essex Steam Train and Riverboat, Conn.

Essex Steam Train’s annual North Pole Express is one of the most sought-after holiday train rides in New England, so much so that it’s already sold out for 2023. But don’t worry, there are more holidays where that came from!

Grown-ups can enjoy Essex Steam Train’s New Years Eve 2023. Dress in your 1950s’ best for this New Year’s “prom,” where guests can sip cocktails on vintage train cars, dance to live music and even solve a murder mystery.

Lehigh Gorge Scenic Railway, Pa.

Set in the picturesque Pennsylvania town of Jim Thorpe, the Lehigh Gorge Scenic Railway weaves through the Pocono Mountains, offering unforgettable views and live narration. During the Christmas season, you can catch the Santa Claus Special Train all the way up to Christmas Eve. During the 70-minute round trip, Santa meets with everyone aboard and takes in the views with you.

Maine Narrow Gauge Railroad Co. & Museum, Maine

The Maine Narrow Gauge Railroad’s Polar Express train ride will take you straight to the North Pole (well, technically, a 50-minute round trip from Portland’s Ocean Gateway Marine Terminal), in luxuriously decorated Christmas train cars. Passengers will meet the conductor, an assortment of hot cocoa-bearing magical chefs and Santa Claus himself.

Mount Washington Cog Railway, N.H.

Hop aboard the very first mountain-climbing cog train in the world to enjoy New Hampshire’s winter wonderland. Mount Washington is the highest peak in New England, and the Mount Washington Cog Railway comes in at the second-steepest set of train tracks in the world.

The winter trains on the mountain continue running all season long. Trains can climb up to Waumbek Station, or even as high as the Skyline, for breathtaking panoramic views. Passengers can also enjoy complimentary hot drinks, a fire pit and even warming huts.

New Jersey Museum of Transportation, N.J.

Santa is coming to Allaire State Park! The New Jersey Museum of Transportation’s Christmas Express with Santa has been running during the holiday season for over 40 years, and it’s not stopping anytime soon. Santa Claus will board the Christmas Express and talk to every child on board while you chug along through a winter wonderland. Weekends through Dec. 17.

Need a ride to the train? Click here to rent a car.

Have you ever been on a holiday train ride, or dreamed of boarding the Polar Express? What holiday tradition do you do with your family every year? Let us know in the comments below.

6 Thoughts on “All Aboard These Magical Holiday Train Rides

  1. This Railroad Museum of New England has trips for all seasons. Check it out now for great Santa and adult train rides out of Thomaston, CT

  2. Correction RE: the Cape Cod Polar Express. The train departs from the Buzzards Bay train depot in Bourne, MA, not Hyannis.

  3. The Catskill Mountain Railroad in Kingston, NY will be continuing their annual run of The Polar Express now through the end of the year.

  4. The Jim Thorpe excursion is sold out on the weekends up to Christmas. I called to make reservations and was told this information.

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