11 Exciting Holiday Train Rides for Families

Holiday train rides

In the mood for a nostalgic holiday season? Get tickets for one these charming holiday train rides! Envision a time reflecting back to your own childhood memories when a miniature train circled ‘round the Christmas tree, clickety-clack, grabbing your attention and imagination. The sound of the whistle as the train rounds the corner ready to bring passengers to their holiday destination…

A time to slow down and spend some quality family time aboard a real life train destined to take your family on an escapade with Santa…

Well, we have the holiday train ride excursions planned for you, with a little help from some creative railroads waiting to whisk you away on a scenic adventure just in time for the Christmas season.

New Hope Railroad, New Hope, PA

Pause for a moment that transcends you back in time to when railways were the mode of transportation and trains could transport you almost anywhere…like the North Pole! Jump on the New Hope Railroad for a trip on either the North Pole Express Train or Santa’s Premium Train Ride, both guaranteed to fulfill your child’s dreams. Each round-trip ride lasts one hour, and once on board, guests are treated to musicians (singalongs are encouraged!), cookies, and hot chocolate. At the end of the trek, Santa himself will greet guests and invite them back to his workshop where children will have the opportunity to have a picture taken with the Jolly Ole’ Elf! You can book your excursion now. 

West Chester Railroad, West Chester, PA

All aboard, for the Santa Express! The West Chester Railroad is delighted to bring back this crowd favorite for children of all ages. The scenic ride through Chester Creek Valley provides the opportunity for Santa to visit with each child on the heated and decorated train. Live entertainment will be provided for this festive ride. Another option is the Christmas Tree Train which takes passengers to Wiggins Tree Farm. This round-trip excursion is only available on three Sundays leading up to Christmas. Tickets go on sale November 1st.

Strasburg Rail Road, Lancaster County, PA

Embark on the excursion of the season on the country’s oldest operating railroad beginning in mid-November. The Strasburg Rail Road offers several options for the savvy passenger wanting to spend time with Santa or cruise the rails in the holiday spirit. Board Santa’s Paradise Express as Santa welcomes everyone aboard his steam train. Another option is to ride on Santa’s Christmas Trolley, a unique experience with the man in the red suit. Families can also choose to ride the Christmas Train Coach where pre-cut Frasier Fir trees await to be chosen to adorn your home for the holidays. Book online now for this affordable ride!

Wilmington & Western Railroad, Wilmington, DE

Santa is everywhere! He truly must know when your kids are sleeping and when they are awake because he also rides the coveted Santa Claus Express at the Wilmington & Western Railroad, Delaware’s Operating Railroad Museum. Join Santa on this fun 1.5 hour journey where he will not only meet and greet your children but he will pose for pictures with them aboard the train.l No standing in line – Santa is at your service on this nostalgic train ride! Tickets can be purchased now.

Cape May Seashore Lines, Atlantic County/Cape May County, NJ

Traveling with Santa just got cooler because now you can go ‘down the shore’ to take a train ride with the big guy! Cape May Seashore Lines is once again running the Santa Express, a 75-minute jaunt departing from either the Richland Village Train Station in Atlantic County or Tuckahoe Village in Cape May County. Operating every weekend from the Saturday before Thanksgiving until Christmas, passengers have their choice of seating accommodations when booking tickets. If you are yearning for a nighttime train ride, there is also The Santa Starlight Express available on Friday evenings in December. Book on-line now for the entire family!

Allentown and Auburn Railroad, Kutztown, PA

The historic Allentown and Auburn Railroad dates back to 1853, and while they are proud of their storied roots, they are also pleased to offer guests an enchanting ride to the North Pole where passengers will have the opportunity to disembark for a merry meet and greet plus picture taking with Mr. and Mrs. Claus. Another option is to have hot chocolate and cookies following the train ride where either Santa or Mrs. Claus will read a Christmas story. Book on-line for these reasonably priced tickets.

Colebrookdale Railroad Excursions, Berks County, PA

Re-imagining a Victorian Christmas has never been easier when you partake in one of the special Christmas-themed excursions offered by Colebrookdale Railroad. Warm memories will be created when your children ride in the lush, heated train cars in anticipation of Christmas Eve Santa’s Polar Bear Express – Colebrookdale Railroad on the ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas Train, running on weekend evenings. If you want a daytime experience where the kids can write a letter to Santa, choose Santa’s Polar Bear Express. Don’t worry; Santa will make an appearance on all rides bearing a gift for each child. Tickets for these 2-hour rides can be purchased on-line now.

Wanamaker Kempton and Southern Railroad, Berks County, PA

The WK&S Railroad runs on a leisurely three and half mile route and brings its own version of the Santa Claus Express to passengers for the weekend of December 3rd – 4th only. Climb aboard to spend time with Santa, Mrs. Claus, and the Elves; there is a free gift for every child on the train. When you are finished traveling in style with Santa, be sure to view the model train display and other historical railroad equipment. Additionally, your family can take a whimsical holiday trip with two of Santa’s elves, Snickerdoodle and Jingle, to visit Mrs. Claus at the North Pole. Book now for this one night only sing-a-long event on December 2nd.

Stourbridge Line, Wayne County, PA

If your family has a hankering for a new tradition, take advantage of what is being offered on the Santa Christmas Tree Express at Stourbridge Line, DL&S Railroad Company in the Poconos. In the comfort of a heated coach car, travel to a Christmas Tree Farm to not only enjoy some hot chocolate and pick out your own tree but to visit with Santa himself! Make it a festive season by taking this two-hour excursion and coming home with your Christmas Tree! Cost of the trees vary and are not included in the ticket price.

Black River Railroad, Flemington, NJ 

The Black River Railroad offers two exciting options for magical family holiday train rides. The 90 minute Santa Express begins November 20th and continues through December 9th – kids under 3 are free with an adult ticket. This charming ride is the perfect way to kick off the Christmas season, complete with the opportunity to meet Santa and Mrs. Claus, a silver bell and gold ticket for every child, and plenty of classic photo ops at North Pole Station. The North Pole Express is a 2 hour ride that kicks off on December 10 and continues on select dates until Christmas.This family-favorite event features complimentary hot cocoa and cookies and a free photo. Santa and Mrs Claus will make an appearance and kids on this ride also get a silver bell and gold ticket Book your excursion now and make memories this season!

Lehigh Gorge Scenic Railroad, Jim Thorpe, PA

Scenic Jim Thorpe PA is sometimes called “The Switzerland of America ” with its soaring mountain views, beautiful gardens and winding narrow streets. Take a train ride through this stunning landscape and you’ll pass Glen Onko, which is the southern gateway to the beautiful Lehigh Gorge State Park, or maybe it’s closer to the North Pole? Book tickets now for the Santa Claus Special Train December 2nd – 24th and the Winter Character Trains that run December 26th – December 30th. Bonus: well-behaved dogs are welcome on the trains, too. Tickets can be purchased now.

Take this moment to transcend back in time with your family this holiday season on one of these whimsical train rides. Remember, the majority of excursions require advance ticket purchase and are very popular, so pick your dates and book early. You do not want to disappoint Santa. He will be waiting for you! Ho-ho-ho!

*When booking tickets for any of these holiday train rides, be sure to check for cancellation policies as well as any Covid-19 Safety Policies.

Love this article? Please share with family and friends! Click here for a list of railroads with Holiday Train Rides. 

Photo courtesy of Strasburg Railroad.


Updated October 2022.