Holiday trains & ‘Polar Express Train Rides’ (2024) - Trains (2024)

By Nastassia Putz | May 23, 2024

Spreading holiday cheer along the rails

Holiday trains & Polar Express Train Rides (2024)

Holiday trains & Polar Express Train Rides (2024): It’s never too early to start planning for a magical train ride with family and friends — especially when tickets go on sale during the spring and summer for some venues.

Purchasing a ticket for a holiday ride on a passenger train is a wonderful treat for anyone. The youngsters — and the young at heart, especially — like to gather on a cold, wintry day for a comfy, cozy experience that sparks wonderment in the eyes of all whom truly believe.

Depending on what you’re looking for this 2024 season, there are many different types of holiday trains to choose from. Some where you can meet Santa, visit the “North Pole,” sip hot chocolate or wine in a beautifully decorated vintage passenger car, or, for one magical night, be fully immersed in the classic children’s book, Polar Express by Chris Van Allsburg. Whatever your choice may be, here is a list of the 2023 Polar Express and holiday trains by location.



  • Grand Canyon (Williams), (Polar Express & Ultimate Polar Express Nov. 1 to Dec. 30 — on sale now)






  • Wilmington & Western (Wilmington),




  • Chicago Union Station (Chicago) (Polar Express — TBD)
  • Fox River Trolley Museum (South Elgin), (Polar Express — on sale June 1, 2024)
  • Illinois Railroad Museum (Union),
  • Monticello Railway Museum (Monticello), (Polar Express — TBD, on sale Sept. 7, 2024)





  • Big South Fork Scenic Railway (Stearns), (Polar Express Nov. 15 to Dec. 23 — on sale now)
  • Bluegrass Scenic Railroad (Versailles),
  • Kentucky Railway Museum (New Haven),
  • My Old Kentucky Dinner Train (Bardstown),



  • B&O Railroad Museum (Baltimore), (Polar Express — on sale July 20, 2024) (Christmas in July on July 20/21, 2024)
  • Walkersville Southern (Walkersville),
  • Western Maryland Scenic (Cumberland), (Polar Express Dec. 8 to 17 — on sale in July)




  • Minnesota Streetcar Museum (Minneapolis),
  • North Shore Scenic (Duluth),








  • Great Smoky Mountains (Bryson City), (Polar Express Nov. 7 to Dec. 31 — on sale now)
  • New Hope Valley Railway (New Hill),
  • North Carolina Transportation Museum (Spencer), (Polar Express Nov. 8 to Dec. 23 — on sale June 6, 2024)







  • South Carolina Railroad Museum (Winnsboro),












Interested in learning a bit more about the Polar Express… check out this online article, “Behind the scenes of Polar Express,” or the more in-depth print version in Trains’ December 2023 issue!

Holiday trains & ‘Polar Express Train Rides’ (2024) - Trains (2024)


What is the most beautiful train ride in the United States? ›

1. Coast Starlight. A train adventure spanning from Washington to Southern California, the Coast Starlight is a daily route between Los Angeles and Seattle that passes through beautiful Santa Barbara, the San Francisco Bay Area, Sacramento and Portland.

How much is it to go on The Polar Express? ›

TICKETS: £33.95 TO £47.95

In THE POLAR EXPRESS ™ Classic, you will receive: Hot chocolate.

Is The Polar Express ride worth it? ›

Honestly, we had the best time and everyone was so friendly and in character and everything was executed so well. It was definitely a wonderful and festive way to kick off the holiday season. You could REALLY feel the magic of Christmas!

Do you get off the train on The Polar Express? ›

You are on board the train for approximately 1 hour. Once your experience is over you can spend as much time in our gift shop as you wish but we tend to find guests spend around 15min – 30min here before you head back on the shuttle to the car park. Therefore we find guests are with us around 1:30-2 hours.

What state is The Polar Express in? ›

THE POLAR EXPRESS™ Train Ride | Southern California | The Magic Returns.

What is the longest scenic train ride in the US? ›

The California Zephyr® is the longest Amtrak® (3924 km) route, and one of the most beautiful railway routes in the world. During the journey you will see the Colorado River valley in the Rocky Mountains and the Sierra Nevada Mountains.

Is there any luxury train travel in the US? ›

While trains are primarily used today in the U.S. as a means of commuting to and from work, luxury train travel experiences are still in motion on trains like America's Trains Southern Comfort line, featuring lavish sleeping cars, and the Napa Valley Wine Train offering food-and-wine day experiences.

What is the most famous train station in the United States? ›

Living up to its name since its 1913 opening for the New York Central, New York City's Grand Central Terminal is an architectural marvel. This iconic station is rightly named a National Historic Civil Engineering Landmark.

What is the best age to ride The Polar Express? ›

Because of its suspenseful scenes, The Polar Express isn't suitable for children under 6-7 years. We also recommend parental guidance for children aged 8-13 years. These are the main messages from The Polar Express: Sometimes the most real things in the world are the things we can't see.

Do you have to wear pajamas on The Polar Express? ›

We encourage our guests, young and young at heart, to wear pyjamas just as in the book with a dressing gown for good measure also. Immerse yourself in THE POLAR EXPRESS™. For the safety of our guests we ask that they wear sturdy, closed toed shoes and not slippers, open toed shoes, flip-flops etc.

Is there a toilet on The Polar Express? ›

The carriages are stationed so you can't see either end of the train. The carriages were decorated with tinsel and lights and there are toilets on the train. The journey was entertaining with music, dancing chefs, ghost hobo and the conductor. We had hot chocolate and a giant cookie.

Is Polar Express better at night or day? ›

DEFINITELY at night. The lights are amazing and it is so much more of a Polar Express experience! Go on another excursion sometime during the day!

Why does Polar Express get so much hate? ›

Let's address the elephant in the room: a lot of people hate this movie. The most common complaint is that the animation makes the people look uncanny, and I get it. However, I don't think that's enough to dismiss all the great things about the movie.

What should I wear on The Polar Express train? ›

Families are encouraged to wear warm pajamas just like passengers from book and film. Passengers may spend time on an unheated platform as they board and disembark from the train, so appropriate winter attire is also recommended.

How long is The Polar Express ride in Chicago? ›

Premium departures are offered at $80 for adults and $72 for children. While the train ride itself lasts for an hour, guests are required to arrive approximately 40 minutes prior to their listed showtime and the entire experience on and off the train lasts roughly two hours. Feeling out of the loop?

Where is The Polar Express train in Michigan? ›

The Polar Express in Owosso, Michigan offers a magical experience for both children and adults alike. Step aboard the vintage train and immerse yourself in the enchanting world of this beloved Christmas tale.

Where does The Polar Express take the kids? ›

The Polar Express Experience

The plot for the ride revolves around a trip to the North Pole on Christmas Eve.

Top Articles
Latest Posts
Article information

Author: Maia Crooks Jr

Last Updated:

Views: 6093

Rating: 4.2 / 5 (63 voted)

Reviews: 94% of readers found this page helpful

Author information

Name: Maia Crooks Jr

Birthday: 1997-09-21

Address: 93119 Joseph Street, Peggyfurt, NC 11582

Phone: +2983088926881

Job: Principal Design Liaison

Hobby: Web surfing, Skiing, role-playing games, Sketching, Polo, Sewing, Genealogy

Introduction: My name is Maia Crooks Jr, I am a homely, joyous, shiny, successful, hilarious, thoughtful, joyous person who loves writing and wants to share my knowledge and understanding with you.