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7 Top Holiday and Polar Express Trains in New York City and Nearby

7 Top Holiday and Polar Express Trains in New York City and Nearby

A magical train or trolley ride inspired by the holidays and the tale of the “Polar Express” is a great way for families to experience the holiday season this year.

This holiday season, hop on a holiday train ride or polar express train in New York City or nearby and head into a magical winter wonderland of snow, garland, reindeer and Christmas cheer, all arranged by Santa himself. These whimsical train or trolley ride will put your family into the spirit of the holiday season. There are many Christmas- and Polar Express-inspired train and trolley rides planned in New York City and nearby this winter. Most feature an hour-long journey complete with live entertainment, hot cocoa, festive snacks and more, all en route to meet Santa at the North Pole.

While many holiday train rides are heavily inspired by “The Polar Express,” a classic Christmas tale written by Chris Van Allsburg, other excursions have added their own unique elements of holiday fun. Either way, a holiday ride to the North Pole is sure to delight kids - and adults! - of all ages. So book your ticket, get on board for fun and immerse yourself in the holiday season!

Finish out the day skating in Rockefeller Center or the Wollman Rink in Central Park, or stop by New York Botanical Garden’s Train Show Also, be sure to call or check each train’s website for specific on-boarding instructions and COVID safety precautions.

Polar Express and Christmas Train Rides in NYC

North Pole Express 2021

Where: Sixth Avenue btwn 47 and 48 Streets
When:  Nov. 13-Jan., various times
Price: Tickets start at $59, adult; $55 child
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Ready for a festive NYC holiday adventure? Top View Sightseeing is back with a festive spin on its sight-seeing tours. Take the North Pole Express to re-live a magical childhood Christmas experience. This double-decker trolley travels through the city as passengers enjoy caroling, meeting Santa, storytelling and lots of holiday-themed activities for kids. Ride through the city to see beautiful light displays that are the signature of the season. The top level is open, but blankets are available if it gets too cold. Standard and enhanced packages available.

Polar Express and Christmas Train Rides in Ulster County 

Catskill Mountain Christmas Train

When: 55 Kingston Plaza Rd., Kingston, NY
When: Friday-Sunday, Nov. 26-Dec. 23
Price: $29; $23 child
Did you know that there's a route through the Catskills to get to the North Pole? Check it out during a 60-minute train adventure through the majestic Catskill Forest to Santa's Workshop up north. Passengers will enjoy live entertainment and receive a free cookie and small gift.

Polar Express and Christmas Train Rides in Long Island 

The Polar Express Trolley Ride

Where: 96 Main Rd., Riverhead, NY
When: Nov. 26-Dec. 23 on select dates. Hours vary. Check the website for the full schedule.
Price: Check the website.
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Hop on a vintage trolley and enjoy the magic and beauty of Christmas as you relive the enchanting tale of The Polar Express. Santa and his helpers are on board the whole time to greet passengers and give them the first gift of Christmas before characters lead festive onboard entertainment. Lots of activities for kids are part of the fun, and each child will receive a keepsake sleigh bell to take home (reminiscent of the classic tale). New this year is an online gift shop where you can purchase gifts after booking your tickets.

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Polar Express and Christmas Train Rides in New Jersey

Polar Express Whippany

Where: 1 Railroad Plaza Whippany, NJ
When: Nov. 3-Dec. 30; various times.
Price: Tickets start at $58, adult; $53, child
Get whisked away to a magical land on a one-hour train ride to the North Pole. The fun begins as soon as you board. Car hosts work their way through the cars to punch your golden ticket before serving delicious hot chocolate and shortbread cookies. Throughout the trip, there's a reading of the classic story, caroling and other festive onboard entertainment. Passengers take home a keepsake sleigh bell reminiscent of the story. Value, standard and premium packages are available.

The Santa Train

Where: Route 23 Transit Center, Wayne, NJ
When: Saturday, Dec. 18 (time to be announced)
Price: To be announced
The Tri-State Railway Historical Society, Inc., returns in 2021 with its annual Ride with Santa in Wayne, NJ. Set in a modern, climate-controlled train, the excursion is an hour long holiday-themed ride where passengers are treated to on-board entertainment including caroling, music, a cast of costumed characters and more. Small holiday- and train-themed souvenirs are available for purchase on board the train.

The Polar Express in Phillipsburg

Where: 99 Elizabeth St., Phillipsburg, NJ
When: Trips run Nov. 26, 27, 28 and Dec. 3, 4, 5, 10, 11, 12, 13, 17, 18 and 19; Fridays, 6 and 8pm; Saturdays,  2, 4, 6 and 8pm; Sundays, 2, 4 and 6pm Price: $24, adult; $32 child
Board the Polar Express at the Delaware River Railroad Excursions, operated by the New York Susquehanna and Western Technical and Historical Society. The experience is set to the music of the motion picture version of The Polar Express. Passengers will be treated to hot chocolate, cookies, live entertainment and more. A talented juggling chef is on board, and children will receive a keepsake sleigh bell to take home.

Santa Express

Where: 80 Stangl Rd., Flemington
When: Nov. 20-Dec. 19, various times
Price: $28-134
This year's North Pole Express will feature more entertainment and new décor at the North Pole Station. Passengers will meet Santa and his elves aboard the train and enjoy lots of holiday fun including face-painting, a photo-op with props near the Christmas tree and Santa’s sleigh and more. Kids receive a sleigh bell gift to take home. Various ticket packages are available.

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Main image by gabczi/Shutterstock

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Barbara Russo

Author: Barbara Russo is a freelance writer who holds a bachelor's degree in communications from the City University of New York. She enjoys playing guitar, following current events, and hanging out with her pet rabbits. See More

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