15 Polar Express Train Rides and Christmas Trains Near Atlanta

Take a festive ride on the Holiday Express for a memorable train ride experience. Photo courtesy of the Blue Ridge Scenic Railway
Take a festive ride on the Holiday Express for a memorable train ride experience. Photo courtesy of the Blue Ridge Scenic Railway
10/20/23 - By Rebecca Ruffin Leffler

Experience a real-life Polar Express train ride near Atlanta, complete with hot cocoa and holiday singing! Reserve a spot on a Polar Express or Christmas train ride to usher your family into the season of wonderment. Although some holiday trains are located in neighboring states, most are within three hours of metro Atlanta. Consider combining your visit with one of these Atlanta Winter Day Trips to the north Georgia mountains, Chattanooga, or surrounding areas. Buy tickets early as these Christmas train rides sell out fast!


Before the holiday season gets too busy, use our Atlanta Christmas Activities and Holiday Guide for awesome gift-giving activities and ideas for everyone on your list. And subscribe to our free Mommy Poppins newsletter to stay in the know of all the exciting activities in Atlanta!

Hop on the Holiday Express at Blue Ridge to meet Santa and Mrs. Claus. Photo courtesy of the Blue Ridge Scenic Railway

Christmas and Polar Express Train Rides 2023

1. Holiday Express - Blue Ridge, Georgia

Distance from Atlanta: 1.5 hours 
Dates: November 24-December 24, 2023
Cost: $40.99 children 2-12; $52.99 adults; Free 0-23 months on a lap 

Families head north to the mountains for this one-hour Christmas train ride aboard the Blue Ridge Scenic Railway, featuring The Night Before Christmas. Riders are also treated to holiday music, an activity packet, a candy cane, and a jingle bell. Parents can purchase snacks and hot chocolate while on board. 

2. Holiday Pavilion - Blue Ridge, Georgia

Distance from Atlanta: 1.5 hours
Dates: December 2, 9, 16, & 23, 2023
Cost: $49.99 children 2-12; $68.99 adults

Families with older kids might prefer the Blue Ridge Scenic Railway's four-hour Holiday Pavilion train ride. Offering the same perks as the Holiday Express, riders also get off the train for a two-hour stopover in the bordering towns of McCaysville, GA and Copperhill, TN. 

3. The Polar Express - Bryson City, North Carolina 

Distance from Atlanta: 3 hours
Dates: November 9-December 31, 2023
Cost: Starting at $29 for children 2-12; $44 for adults. Prices vary based on date and train seating

Children ride along The Great Smoky Mountain Railroad for this 1.25-hour round trip to the "North Pole." Along the way, passengers listen to the story and music from The Polar Express and enjoy hot cocoa and a treat. Santa makes an appearance on this Christmas train and gives children a sleigh bell on each holiday ride. 

4. Candy Cane Express - Cordele, Georgia

Distance from Atlanta: 2.5 hours
Dates: December 1, 2, & 7, 2023
Cost: Starting at $29.99 per ticket. Prices vary by section of train

This Christmas train ride along the Historic SAM Shortline Railroad in south Georgia runs for just three days in December so interested families should book quickly! Passengers take the holiday train for a two-hour stopover in Plains to explore the Jimmy Carter National Historic Site Museum, shop, and sample peanut butter ice cream. Kids will love seeing Santa! Higher-priced tickets include options such as snacks, drinks, and lunch. 

5. Cordele Holiday Train - Cordele, Georgia

Distance from Atlanta: 2.5 hours
Dates: December 9, 15, & 16, 2023
Cost: $15 children 2-12; $25 adults; $35 deluxe class for all ages

Offering hot chocolate and cookies, the one-hour Cordele Holiday Train (also offered on the Historic Sam Shortline Railroad), will delight younger kids who won't sit still for too long. Sing along to holiday music and see what Santa gives each passenger! Reserve tickets soon as the holiday train only operates three nights this season.

6. North Pole Limited Christmas Train - Chattanooga, Tennessee

Distance from Atlanta: 2 hours 
Dates: November 17-December 23, 2023
Cost: $29 for daytime rides; $39 for evening rides

Atlanta families travel to Chattanooga for this Christmas train ride to the North Pole on the Tennessee Valley Railroad. Passengers enjoy refreshments (including cookies and hot chocolate), listen to stories, and write letters to Santa on the hour-long ride. At the North Pole, Santa comes aboard to visit with all the passengers. 

7. Holiday Christmas Lights Train - Chattanooga, Tennessee

Distance from Atlanta: 2 hours 
Dates: December 26, 2023 - January 14, 2024
Cost: $15 children 2-12; $24 ages 13+ 

The Tennessee Valley Railroad also offers a train ride featuring holiday lights, starting the day after Christmas. Passengers ride through a variety of light displays, from twinkling snowflakes to towering Christmas trees on this 65-minute ride. 

RELATED: Chattanooga with Kids: 25 Best Things to Do in Chattanooga, Tennessee

8. Santa's Hiwassee Holiday Train - Delano, Tennessee

Distance from Atlanta: 2 hours
Dates: December 2, 3, 9, 10, 16, 17, 22, & 23, 2023 
Cost: Starting at $24 per ticket for ages 1 and up; price varies by section of train

Kids can write a letter to Santa while enjoying gingerbread cookies and chocolate milk during the 1+ hour ride along the Hiwassee River Gorge. Santa Claus rides along and gives every passenger a holiday bell. 

 Sing-along Scenic Railroad - Stone Mountain, Georgia: Christmas Trains Atlanta
Take a Christmas Sing-Along Scenic ride on the Stone Mountain Railroad.  Photo courtesy of the railroad 

9. Sing-Along Scenic Railroad - Stone Mountain, Georgia

Distance from Atlanta: 30 minutes
Dates: November 11, 2023-January 2, 2024
Cost: Included with attraction pass: $44.99 children 3-11; $49.99 ages 12+; free for babies 2 and under

Enjoy Christmas magic aboard this Atlanta holiday train ride at Stone Mountain Park. Guests purchase attraction passes and enjoy all that the park has to offer (including Summit Skyride and the interactive dinosaur exhibit) plus seasonal Christmas activities, holiday light displays, and fireworks. The train ride is a five-mile trip around the mountain; at night the excursion turns more festive with Christmas carols.  

Winter Wonderland Train Ride  Christmas Trains Atlanta
The Winter Wonderland Train Ride in Villa Rica, Georgia is fun for all. Photo courtesy of Pine Mountain Gold Museum

10. Winter Wonderland Train Ride - Villa Rica, Georgia

Distance from Atlanta: 35 minutes
Dates: December 1-30, 2023
Cost: $13; ages 2 and under free

As far as bang for your buck, this Atlanta Christmas train out of the Pine Mountain Gold Museum gets the job done. At only $13 per ticket, passengers experience plenty of holiday magic with music and characters. New for 2023: More Christmas lights for a total of ten miles worth of sparkling holiday lights!

11. North Pole Express - Calera, Alabama

Distance from Atlanta: 3 hours
Dates: Weekends, November 19-December 17, 2023
Cost: Starting at $30 ages 2 and up. Prices vary by section of train

Just south of Birmingham, families will find the Heart of Dixie Railroad Museum. Kids are encouraged to wear pajamas aboard this 75-minute holiday train ride with singing, storytime, sweets, and a chocolate drink. At the North Pole, Santa and Mrs. Claus climb aboard to pose for photos.

12. Christmas at the Station - Calera, Alabama

Distance from Atlanta: 3 hours
Dates: December 2, 9, and 16, 2023
Cost: $20 ages 2 and up.

For a daytime option available for only three days, climb aboard the Shelby and Southern Steam Railroad for a 30-minute trip with pre-recorded holiday music. Food trucks will be at the depot in addition to holiday gift vendors. Pose for pictures with Santa at the museum.

13. Santa Train – Huntsville, Alabama

Distance from Atlanta: 3 hours
Date: December 2, 2023
Cost: Starting at $20, price varies by section of train

If families find themselves visiting NASA’s U.S. Space and Rocket Center in Huntsville, combine it with a holiday train ride at the North Alabama Railroad Museum. The Santa Train runs three times during one day and offers holiday sing-alongs and a gift for children on the 30-minute daytime ride. First-class passengers enjoy refreshments and a larger gift.

14. North Star Limited – Huntsville, Alabama

Distance from Atlanta: 3 hours
Dates: December 1, 2023
Cost: Starting at $35 per person

For an evening ride in Huntsville, wear pajamas on the 45-minute North Star Limited, complete with a Christmas story, sing-along, and refreshments. All children receive a gift from Santa and may visit with him on the loading platform. Kids should have their wish lists ready to give to Santa! 

Tell Santa all your wishes aboard the Santa Special train ride. Photo courtesy of the Georgia Coastal Railway

15. Santa Special Train Ride - Kingsland, Georgia

Distance from Atlanta: 5 hours
Dates: November 24 & 25; December 2, 9, 16, 17, 21, 22, & 23, 2023
Cost: Starting at $15 for ages 3-12 and $22 for adults. Prices vary by section of train

This Christmas train ride may not be as close to Atlanta, but if your family plans to head to the beach this holiday season, consider adding the Georgia Coastal Railway to the vacation agenda. Frosty the Snowman, Santa, Mrs. Claus, and all the elves visit each coach on the 70-minute journey. Purchase snacks and beverages at the station to bring on board.

Additional reporting by Elsa Simcik

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