Last updated: 05:00 PM ET, Thu December 03 2015

6 Magical Polar Express and Christmas Train Rides

Car Rental & Rail | Donald Wood | December 03, 2015

6 Magical Polar Express and Christmas Train Rides

Photo courtesy of Durango and Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad

Families are looking for fun and interesting things to do during the holiday season, and taking a themed train excursion on the “Polar Express” or a ride with Santa might be just the ticket.

Thanks to some of the most well-known rail companies in the United States, this year will be filled with themed train rides that will capture the spirit of the holidays. Check out the many options travelers have this winter.

Napa Valley Wine Train’s Santa Trains

Napa Valley, California, has become synonymous with wine over the years, but the Napa Valley Wine Train that makes its way from Napa to Yountville and back is a treat for children and adults alike.

Customers ride alongside Santa Claus and many other Christmas characters as the train makes its way through the heart of wine country. With the choice to travel in the company’s vintage rail cars or the Vista Dome, this is the perfect addition to any holiday vacation itinerary.

Durango and Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad’s Polar Express

In the mountains of Colorado, the Durango and Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad company operates vintage train expeditions, and this holiday season will feature a train to the North Pole via the “Polar Express” themed journey.

Passengers will be treated to complimentary hot chocolate and treats, served by personal chefs who are also tasked with reading the “Polar Express” book as the train heads north to pick up Santa. Once aboard, Mr. Claus goes car to car visiting everyone and giving a gift to each child.

Cape Cod Central Railroad’s Train to Christmas Town

If you live near or will be traveling through the New England region—more specifically Hyannis, Massachusetts—take your family for a trip on the Cape Cod Central Railroad’s Train to Christmas Town.

Each car is decorated for the season and will feature appearances by Bumblebee the Polar Bear and other characters. Passengers will also be treated to cookies and cocoa and railroad employees will help lead everyone by signing Christmas carols.

Once the train arrives in Christmas Town, Santa climbs aboard and walks through each car spreading holiday cheer to the children.

Great Smoky Mountains Railroad’s Polar Express

After a successful 2014, the Great Smoky Mountains Railroad is returning with its version of the “Polar Express” via a journey from Bryson City, North Carolina, to the North Pole to pick up Santa Claus.

With the soundtrack to the film playing in the background, passengers will enjoy a trip that features free cocoa while listening and reading along with the story. Add in an appearance from Santa Claus during the ride home and gifts for every child on board, and this is the ideal holiday adventure.

White Pass and Yukon Route’s Santa Train

Unlike the other events on this list, the White Pass and Yukon Route’s Santa Train runs only once per year through the beautiful wilderness of Alaska and Canada, departing on Saturday, Dec. 12.

The free ride involves a pre-departure meeting with Santa, and then adults and children alike will make their way on the historic train route. The sights of the Alaskan and Canadian wilderness will make for the perfect backdrop on the holiday excursion.

Adirondack Scenic Railroad’s Polar Express

Families are encouraged to dress in their best pajamas when they board the Adirondack Scenic Railroad’s Polar Express trip from Union Station in Utica, New York, to the North Pole, also known as Holland Patent.

Passengers will listen to a reading of the “Polar Express” by actor Liam Neeson while the train makes its way to pick up Santa. Once the children have met Mr. Claus and the train ride is completed, guests will be treated to hot chocolate and cookies at Union Station.


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