Railroads & Locomotives Tourist Railroad Profiles Holiday trains & Polar Express rides (2023)

Holiday trains & Polar Express rides (2023)

By Nastassia Putz | October 30, 2023

Spreading joy by rail

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Holiday trains & Polar Express rides (2023)

conductor standing by lit up stairs
All aboard the train for a fun and magical journey … The conductor awaits to greet you as you enter a world surrounded by holiday spirit. James Guenther

Holiday trains & Polar Express rides (2023): It’s never too early to start planning for a magical train ride with family or 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 2023 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.

lantern with Polar Express train behind
Young child exiting one of the PEX cars, while conductor stands by train. Benjamin Wideman, National Railroad Museum.

ALABAMA

Heart of Dixie Railroad Museum (Calera), hodrrm.org
North Alabama Railroad Museum (Huntsville), www.narm.info

ARIZONA

Grand Canyon (Williams), thetrain.com  (Polar Express & Ultimate Polar Express)

ARKANSAS

Arkansas & Missouri (Springdale), amrailroad.com

CALIFORNIA

California State Railroad Museum (Sacramento), csrmf.org  (Polar Express)
Irvine Park Railroad (Orange), irvineparkrailroad.com
Napa Valley Wine Train (Napa), winetrain.com
Niles Canyon Railway (Sunol), ncry.org
Pacific Southwest Railway Museum (Campo), www.psrm.org
Railtown 1897 State Park  (Jamestown), railtown1897.org (Polar Express)
Roaring Camp Railroads (Felton), roaringcamp.com
River Fox Train (West Sacramento), riverfoxtrain.com
Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk (Santa Cruz), beachboardwalk.com/holiday-train-rides/
Sierra Northern Railway (Ventura County), www.sunbursttrain.com/spirit-of-the-holidays
Southern California Railway Museum (Perris), socalrailway.org (Polar Express)
Skunk Train (Willits), skunktrain.com
Western Pacific Railroad Museum (Portola), wplives.org

COLORADO

Colorado Railroad Museum (Golden), coloradorailroadmuseum.org (Polar Express)
Durango & Silverton (Durango), durangotrain.com (Polar Express)
Georgetown Loop (Georgetown), georgetownlooprr.com
Royal Gorge Route (Canon City), royalgorgeroute.com 

CONNECTICUT

Essex Steam Train & Riverboat (Essex), essexsteamtrain.com
Railroad Museum of New England (Thomaston), rmne.org
Shore Line Trolley Museum (East Haven), shorelinetrolley.com

DELAWARE

Wilmington & Western (Wilmington), wwrr.com

FLORIDA

Florida Railroad Museum (Parrish), frrm.org
Miami on Brightline (Miami), miamithepolarexpressride.com  (Polar Express )
Seminole Gulf Railway (Fort Myers), semgulf.com 

GEORGIA

SAM Shortline Train (Cordele), samshortline.com
Blue Ridge Scenic Railway (Blue Ridge), brscenic.com

ILLINOIS

Chicago Union Station (Chicago) chicagounionstation.com (Polar Express)
Fox River Trolley Museum (South Elgin), foxtrolley.org (Polar Express)
Illinois Railroad Museum (Union), irm.org
Monticello Railway Museum (Monticello), mrym.org (Polar Express)

INDIANA

French Lick Scenic (French Lick), frenchlickscenicrailway.org (Polar Express)
Hesston Steam Museum (Hesston), hesston.org
Hoosier Valley Railroad Museum (North Judson), hoosiervalley.org
Nickel Plate Express (Noblesville), nickelplateexpress.com
Whitewater Valley Railroad (Connersville), whitewatervalleyrr.org (Polar Express)

IOWA

Boone & Scenic Valley (Boone), scenic-valleyrr.com
Midwest Central (Mount Pleasant), www.mcrr.org 

KANSAS

Abilene & Smoky Valley (Abilene), asvrr.org 

KENTUCKY

Big South Fork Scenic Railway (Stearns), bsfsry.com (Polar Express)
Bluegrass Scenic Railroad (Versailles), bgrm.org
Kentucky Railway Museum (New Haven), kyrail.org
My Old Kentucky Dinner Train (Bardstown), kydinnertrain.com

MAINE

Maine Narrow Guage Railroad (Portland), mainenarrowgauge.org (Polar Express)
Seashore Trolley Museum (Kennebunkport), trolleymuseum.org
Wiscasset, Waterville & Farmington (Alna), wwfry.org

MARYLAND

B&O Railroad Museum (Baltimore), borail.org (Polar Express) also has Christmas in July
Walkersville Southern (Walkersville), wsrr.org
Western Maryland Scenic (Cumberland), wmsr.com (Polar Express)

MASSACHUSETTS

Cape Cod Central (Hyannis), capetrain.com (Polar Express)
Edaville (Carver), edaville.com (Christmas in July)

MICHIGAN

Coopersville & Marne (Coopersville), mitrain.net
Little River Railroad (Coldwater), littleriverrailroad.com
Southern Michigan Railroad Society (Clinton), southernmichiganrailroad.com
Steam Railroading Institute (Owosso), michigansteamtrain.com

MINNESOTA

Minnesota Streetcar Museum (Minneapolis), trolleyride.org
North Shore Scenic (Duluth), northshorescenicrailroad.org

MISSOURI

Branson Scenic (Branson), bransontrain.com (Polar Express)
St. Louis, Iron Mountain & Southern ( Jackson), slimrr.com
St. Louis Union Station (St. Louis), stlouisunionstation.com (Polar Express)

MONTANA

Charlie Russell Chew Choo (Lewistown), montanadinnertrain.com 

NEVADA

Nevada Northern (Ely), nnry.com
Nevada State Railroad Museum (Carson City), carsonrailroadmuseum.org
Nevada State Railroad Museum (Boulder City), boulderrailroadmuseum.org
Virginia & Truckee (Virginia City), virginiatruckee.com

NEW HAMPSHIRE

Conway Scenic Railway (North Conway), journeytothenorthpole.org
Hobo Railroad (Lincoln), santatrains.com
Mount Washington Cog Railway (Bretton Woods), thecog.com

NEW JERSEY

Black River & Western (Flemington), newjerseytrain.org
Delaware River Railroad Excursions (Phillipsburg), 877trainride.com (Polar Express)
Morristown & Erie (Whippany), whippanyrailwaymuseum.net (Polar Express)

NEW YORK

Adirondack Railroad (Utica), adirondackrr.com (Polar Express)
Arcade & Attica (Arcade), aarailroad.com
Catskill Mountain Railroad (Kingston) catskillmountainrailroad.com (Polar Express)
Cooperstown & Charlotte Valley (Milford), lrhs.com
Medina Railroad Museum (Medina), medinarailroadmuseum.org (Polar Express)
North Folk Trolley Co. (Riverhead), norfolktrolley.com (Polar Express)
Saratoga Corinth & Hudson Railway (Corinth), corinthtrain.com

NORTH CAROLINA

Great Smoky Mountains (Bryson City), gsmr.com (Polar Express)
New Hope Valley Railway (New Hill), triangletrain.com
North Carolina Transportation Museum (Spencer), nctrans.org (Polar Express)

OHIO

Cuyahoga Valley Scenic (Akron), cvsr.com
Dennison Railroad Depot Museum (Dennison), dennisondepot.org (Polar Express)
Hocking Valley Scenic (Nelsonville), hvsry.org
Lebanon Mason Monroe  (Lebanon), lebanonrr.com
Orrville Railroad (Orrville), orrvillerailroad.com

OKLAHOMA

Oklahoma Railway Museum (Oklahoma City), oklahomarailwaymuseum.org (Polar Express)

OREGON

Mount Hood (Hood River), www.mthoodrr.com
Oregon Coast Scenic (Garibaldi), oregoncoastscenic.org
Sumpter Valley (Sumpter), sumptervalleyrailroad.org

PENNSYLVANIA

Colebrookdale Railroad (Boyertown), colebrookdalerailroad.com
East Broad Top (Rockhill Furnace), eastbroadtop.com
Everett Railroad (Hollidaysburg), everettrailroad.com
Hew Hope & Ivyland (New Hope), newhoperailroad.com
Lehigh Gorge Scenic (Jim Thorpe), lgsry.com
Middletown & Hummelstown (Middletown), mhrailroad.com
North Central Railway of York (New Freedom), northerncentralrailway.com
Oil Creek & Titusville (Titusville), octrr.org , also has Christmas in July
Pennsylvania Trolley Museum (Washington), pa-trolley.org
Rockhill Trolley Museum (Rockhill Furnace), rockhilltrolley.org
Stourbridge Line (Honesdale), www.thestourbridgeline.net
Strasburg Rail Road (Strasburg), strasburgrailroad.com
Wanamaker, Kempton & Southern (Kempton), kemptontrain.com
West Chester Railroad (West Chester), westchesterrr.net

RHODE ISLAND

Blackstone Valley Tourism Council  (Woonsocket), blackstonevalleypolarexpress.com
(Polar Express)

SOUTH CAROLINA

South Carolina Railroad Museum  (Winnsboro), scrm.org 

SOUTH DAKOTA

Black Hills Central (Hill City), www.1880train.com 

TENNESSEE

Tennessee Central Railway Museum (Nashville), tcry.org
Tennessee Valley (Chattanooga), tvrail.com
Three Rivers Rambler (Knoxville), threeriversrambler.com

TEXAS

Austin Steam Train (Cedar Park), austinsteamtrain.org
Galveston Railroad Museum (Galveston), galvestonrrmuseum.org (Polar Express)
Grapevine Vintage Railroad (Grapevine), grapevinetexasusa.com
Historic Jefferson Railway (Jefferson), jeffersonrailway.com
Texas State Railroad (Palestine), texasstaterailroad.net
Texas Transportation Museum (San Antonio), txtransportationmuseum.org

UTAH

Heber Valley Railroad (Heber Valley), hebervalleyrr.org 

VERMONT

Freight House (Lyndonville), thelyndonfreighthouse.com
Manchester Vermont Lions Club (Manchester), manchesterlionselftrain.com
Vermont Children’s Trust Foundation (Burlington), vtchildrenstrust.org  (Polar Express)
White River Rotary Club (White River Junction), whiteriverrotaryusa.org (Polar Express)

VIRGINIA

Old Dominion Chapter NRHS (Dillwyn), odcnrhs.org
Virginia Railway Express, vre.org 

WASHINGTON

Chehalis-Centralia Railroad & Museum (Chehalis), steamtrainride.com
Northwest Railroad Museum (Snoqualmie), trainmuseum.org
Yakima Valley Trolleys (Yakima), yakimavalleytrolleys.org

WEST VIRGINIA

Durbin & Greenbrier  (Elkins), mtn-rail.com

WISCONSIN

East Troy Electric Railroad (East Troy), easttroyrr.org
Mid-Continent Railway Museum (North Freedom), midcontinent.org
National Railroad Museum (Green Bay), nationalrrmuseum.org (Polar Express)
Wisconsin Great Northern (Spooner), spoonertrainride.com 

MULTIPLE STATES

Canadian Pacific Kansas City Holiday Train, cpkcr.com
CSX Transportation Santa Train, www.csx.com

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!

 

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