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Families getting ready to relive the classic story of the Polar Express

One of the best ways to get the kids excited for the holidays is New York’s Polar Express train rides, Christmas trains, and holiday trolleys. These Yuletide spectacles bring the classic children’s book by Chris Van Allsburg to life. With old cabooses and Santa’s presence, they offer an escape to a world of seasonal delights. Many take cues from “The Polar Express,” while others add their own unique holiday surprises. These journeys enchant all ages. Book your magical trip now, and dive into the holiday spirit.


Ready to pick this year’s Polar Express Train Ride, in and around New York? Let’s get into it:


Quick hits

  • Experience the magical Polar Express train rides in New York and nearby states!
  • Get festive with Santa, Mrs. Claus, hot chocolate & cookies, live entertainment and more!
  • Dress warmly for an authentic experience & arrive early to make sure you don’t miss out on any of the fun!

Experience the Magic: Polar Express Train Rides in New York

Boarding a magical Polar Express train ride in New York

New York boasts three Polar Express rides, each a unique journey to the North Pole. From the Catskill Mountain Railroad to the Adirondack Railroad and the Medina Railroad Museum, each offers festive fun and magical moments with Santa and elves. Let’s uncover the Christmas magic they hold, plus a freebie that’s technically not a real train.


Catskill Mountain Railroad Polar Express Adventure

Board the Catskill Mountain Railroad’s Polar Express Adventure from the train station in Kingston, NY, for a festive escapade. This journey is a whirl of entertainment, carols, and a reading of the Polar Express, complete with hot chocolate and cookies. As you reach the North Pole, Santa himself boards. He will always greet passengers, and give each child their first gift of the holiday season – a silver keepsake sleigh bell. This magical adventure creates moments the kids will cherish forever.


Medina Railroad Museum’s Santa’s Toyland Experience

The Medina Railroad Museum’s Santa’s Toyland Experience is a rollicking holiday train ride through a winter wonderland. Dancing elves and classic holiday tunes set a festive stage. The highlight? Santa Claus himself boards at the North Pole, a sight as delightful as the season’s first snowfall. It’s a Christmas memory that lingers, warming the heart long after the journey ends.


Adirondack Scenic Railroad Polar Express Journey

Departing from Union Station in Utica, NY, the Adirondack Scenic Railroad Polar Express whisks you into a Yuletide adventure. Mrs. Claus and the chefs serve hot chocolate and cookies to spread cheer. At the North Pole, Santa boards, gifting each child a keepsake sleigh Bell. A perfect toast to the season’s spirit.


Christmas Airstream

Instead of corralling your kin to the train, the Long Island Christmas Experience brings the ride to you. Broadway-caliber actors bring the story to life. Though not cheap, it can host up to 30 guests, so making wonderful memories while cost-sharing is a breeze!


Christmas Train Rides Beyond New York State

A festive train ride in New Jersey

Beyond New York, the holiday train ride magic seeps into New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Connecticut. These rides offer live shows, festive treats, and keepsake bells, creating unforgettable family memories. Onward to explore these charming Christmas locomotive adventures.


New Jersey’s Holiday Train Rides

New Jersey’s holiday train rides, the Polar Express and Santa Express, are an adventure filled with entertainment, treats, and Santa Claus. And they make a great excuse to enjoy one of the best day trips in New Jersey this winter.


The Santa Express

Climb aboard the Black & Western Railroad for a trip to the North Pole. Kids receive a silver bell, their first Christmas gift, and a golden ticket from the Santa Express. Photo-ops with Santa and Mrs. Claus await at the North Pole Station.


The North Pole Express

The North Pole Express, another Black & Western Railroad journey, offers cookies, hot chocolate, and a complimentary photo. Plus, there are festive photo-ops with Santa’s sleigh, a large wreath, and a Christmas tree. Choose your class – coach class, premium coach, first class, or caboose – and board the train for a festive ride.


The Polar Express

The New York Susquehanna & Western Technical & Historical Society offers a Polar Express ride that’s more spectacle than journey. As the motion picture’s soundtrack fills the air, you’ll sip hot cocoa, munch cookies, and meet Santa. And the attire? Pajamas, of course.


Pennsylvania’s Christmas Trains

In Pennsylvania, Christmas train rides transform into magical journeys. From Strasburg to Chester Creek Valley, these rides offer warm cookies, caroling, and Santa visits. The Santa’s Paradise Express and Night Before Christmas Train at Strasburg Rail Road provide tales, treats, and the first gift of Christmas. The Santa Claus Special in Jim Thorpe and Santa’s North Pole Trains by New Hope Railroad offer entertainment and Santa encounters, making the season magical.


Santa’s Paradise Express

In Pennsylvania’s Lancaster County, the Strasburg Rail Road offers a 45-minute ride with Santa, treats, and the season’s first gift. It also runs Christmas Tree Trains and a Night Before Christmas Train, each a unique holiday experience.


Connecticut’s Trolley and Christmas Train Rides

Taking a winter trip on a train can be the first gift of Christmas for the kids

Connecticut’s Trolley and Christmas Train Rides are holiday spectacles like no other. The North Pole Express adventure, Connecticut Trolley Museum ride with Christmas carols, and Naugatuck Railroad with Santa and Mrs. Claus visits create a festive circus that can make anyone crack a smile. The North Pole Express ride offers cookies and hot chocolate, and a visit from the Clauses. The Essex Steam Holiday ride transforms each train car into a stage for a musical rendition of “The Night Before Christmas.” It’s a spectacle that’ll keep you entertained, no matter your age, and one of the best Christmas things to do in Connecticut in December.


Santa Express and Northern Lights Limited

Take a ride on the Naugatuck Railroad’s Santa Express or Northern Lights Limited. Meet Santa and Mrs. Claus, enjoy hot chocolate, and sing carols with elves. Choose your package and let the Christmas story unfold.


Trolley Museum Winterfest and Tunnel of Lights

For a unique Yuletide adventure, head to the Connecticut Trolley Museum. Choose an open-air “electric sleigh” or an enclosed carriage, sing carols under the stars, explore the festively adorned Visitors Center, and don’t miss your meeting with Santa for your gift. And the accompanying Tunnel of Lights is one of the best Christmas lights displays in all Connecticut.


The North Pole Express

The in-demand North Pole Express in Essex, Connecticut, is as elusive as a reindeer in flight. It’s a starlit sleigh ride to the North Pole, with carols, treats, and Santa’s gifts. A night to remember, indeed.


Ticket Information

Santa, ready with a small gift that each child receives on your ride

Planning your Polar Express trip? Keep an eye on ticket prices, know your purchase options, and hunt for keepsakes like golden tickets.

Polar Express Ticket Prices

Prices for a Polar Express ticket are as varied as snowflakes, ranging from $39 to $130 per person. The Catskill Mountain Railroad, for example, charges adults $41 and children $32 off-peak, with peak rates at $50 and $40 respectively. The Adirondack Scenic Railroad asks $46 from adults and $38 from the young ones. Of course, prices change based on seating options and the season, so check your chosen ride’s website for the most accurate information.


Most holiday train rides offer an online gift shop, so you can add to the experience with a few unique extras when you purchase tickets.


Tips for a Memorable Polar Express Experience

A family wearing festive clothing for a Polar Express train ride

For a seamless Polar Express adventure, plan ahead.


What to Wear

Prepping for your Polar Express journey? Dress for the North Pole, not a beach party. Think pajamas, sturdy shoes, and winter essentials. After all, you wouldn’t want a snowman to out-dress you.


Arriving Early

Plan to be an hour early for your Polar Express adventure. This allows time for parking, ticket collection, and leisurely boarding. An early start is the first step to a stress-free journey into the holiday spirit.


Even more ideas to celebrate the holidays near New York City

Fun ideas for the whole family to celebrate the holidays

Sure, holiday train rides can be fun, but it’s just one evening.


Fortunately, there’s plenty more to get into the holiday spirit in and around New York City!


If your kids are into trains, take them to the New York Botanical Garden for the Holiday Train Show. Frankly, even if you don’t have kids, this will wind up on your list of top winter activities in New York City. It’s pretty cool.


Or head to Connecticut, a state so famous for the holidays, that there’s a classic story and movie about it. The state is full of fantastic New England winter getaways.


A few of the Christmas activities you can enjoy in CT in December include:







Boarding a Polar Express train ride, you’re in for an extraordinary holiday journey. Whether in New York or neighboring states, the magic of the Polar Express awaits on holiday train rides. With hot chocolate, festive carols, and Santa himself, you’re set to create timeless memories. So, why wait? Hop on and embrace the holiday spirit.


Frequently Asked Questions about the Polar Express train ride


Where is the Polar Express train ride in NY?

Summon the holiday spirit with the Adirondack Railroad’s Polar Express. Departing from Utica’s Union Station, this two-hour journey is an expedition into the heart of the holiday season. Traverse the majestic Adirondack Mountains, enjoy a visit from Santa, and make unforgettable memories. Don’t let the train leave without you. All aboard the Polar Express!


What is the best train to be on Polar Express?

Embark on a winter’s tale with the top 12 Polar Express Train Rides in the U.S. From Michigan’s frosty North Pole Express to Arizona’s desert-meets-snow Grand Canyon Railway, these journeys are your passport to a holiday spectacle.


How long is a Polar Bear Express train ride?

At 5:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m., the Polar Express beckons. An hour-long journey, unforgettable. Allow two hours for the full magic.


How much do Polar Express tickets typically cost?

For a Polar Express ticket, you’ll shell out $39 to $130 a head.


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