10 Best Christmas Trains Across the Country
All aboard! Get into the holiday spirit with these fun and festive trains. From a real-life Polar Express to a Christmas-themed train in wine country, these railways will make the whole family feel merry and bright.
Photo By: Rail Events Inc
Photo By: Napa Valley Wine Train
Photo By: Niles Canyon Railway
Photo By: Strasburg Railroad
Photo By: Chicago Transit Authority
Photo By: Grapevine Convention & Visitors Bureau
Photo By: Wisconsin Great Northern Railroad
Photo By: Blue Ridge Scenic Railway
Photo By: Tennessee Valley Railroad Museum
Photo By: West Virginia Mountain Rail
Ride the Polar Express IRL
Inspired by the bestselling book and hit movie, the Polar Express comes to life at nearly 50 train stations across the country. Produced by Rail Events Inc., these Christmas trains feature several special moments from the movie including a bell for every child. And, just like in the story, guests are encouraged to wear pajamas for the trip.
Christmas Wine Train
For the holidays, the Napa Valley Wine Train turns into the Santa Train with hot cocoa and cookies for kids. Though this tour doesn’t visit wineries like the Wine Train does, adults can enjoy select reds, whites and a sparkling wine while on the Santa Train.
Train of Lights
If you’re in the Bay Area around the holidays, the Niles Canyon Railway is a must. The museum’s Train of Lights features a vintage train wrapped in thousands of dazzling holiday lights both inside and out. The special nighttime trip features complimentary holiday refreshments but for an extra luxe ride, upgrade your ticket to the First Class Parlor. The vintage railcar still has an original Cuban Mahogany interior.
Christmas Tree Train
Pennsylvania’s Strasburg Railroad combines two holiday traditions — a scenic ride through a snowy winter landscape and a visit to a real Christmas tree farm. The journey stops over in Leaman Place Grove where passengers can pick out and buy a Christmas tree. The trees are then loaded onto the train’s flatcar and transported back with guests to the station.
The CTA Holiday Train
Hop on the "L" in late November or December on any line and you might catch The Chicago Transit Authority Holiday Train or the new Elves’ Workshop Train. These festive train cars are wrapped with holiday decorations and thousands of twinkling lights. At the front, don’t miss Santa waving to passengers from his sleigh.
Ride to the North Pole...in Texas
Known as the Christmas Capital of Texas, Grapevine goes all out during the holiday season and the Grapevine Vintage Railroad’s North Pole Express® is a Christmas must-do for the whole family. The ride includes chocolate "snow milk", cookies and a visit from Mrs. Claus, but the adventure doesn’t stop with the ride. When the train arrives at the "North Pole", guests can walk through a magical, snowy forest and visit Santa in his workshop.
Christmas Pizza Train
In Wisconsin, Santa prefers pizza over cookies. The Wisconsin Great Northern Railroad Santa Pizza Train features a two-hour scenic ride, a pizza party and a visit from the big man himself. This has to be the coolest holiday combo we’ve ever seen.
The Santa Express
Travel along the beautiful Toccoa River in the Chattahoochee National Forest with Blue Ridge Scenic Railway. The railroad’s Christmas-themed Santa Express features a one-hour ride with sing-alongs, holiday stories and a visit from popular Christmas characters including Santa himself.
Christmas Dinner Train
Chattanooga’s Tennessee Valley Railroad Museum is literally a museum on wheels. The exhibit is the ride as each train trip is designed to teach guests about the history of trains in Tennessee. During the holidays, guests can board a beautifully restored 1924 railcar for a swanky four-course dinner on the rails. But it books up quickly. This year’s Christmas dinner train sold out in July!
The Elf Limited
While some Christmas trains bring out Santa and call it a day, Durbin & Greenbrier Valley Railroad’s The Elf Limited creates an entire storyline and adventure around Santa’s elves. Join Jinx the Elf for mischief-making and other "elfscapades" on this one-hour, round-trip ride.