Polar Express and Christmas Trains for New Jersey Kids

Visit with Santa on Black River and Western Railroad's North Pole Express.
Ride the Rails and Experience Holiday Magic on Christmas Trains with NJ Kids

Every year, New Jersey's railroads get decked out in their holiday best to offer special Christmas-themed rides for the whole family. Wait—Christmas? We know, it's a bit early to start hauling out the holly, but these rides are a popular holiday tradition, and they sell out fast!

Though these trains don't go all the way to the North Pole, most include a visit with Mr. and Mrs. Claus, along with treats, caroling, and stories. One storybook Santa train invites kids to wear their pajamas and hear a classic Christmas story read aloud on the rails, while another ferries passengers to a Christmas tree farm.

Read on to find out where to take a holiday train ride with Santa Claus, and book your tickets as soon as possible. Then you can put Christmas aside for a while and get back to your fall fun.  

The Christmas Express – Allaire State Park, Wall Township
Friday, November 23 – Sunday, December 16, 2018 (select dates)
The Christmas Express has been a family tradition for more than 35 years. Sponsored by the New Jersey Museum of Transportation and run by Pine Creek Railroad, this popular holiday train ride is about 15 minutes long and includes a visit with Santa. The trains run from 11am – 4pm on November 23, 24, and 25, and December 1-2, 8-9, and 15-16. Nighttime rides (6-8:30pm) are scheduled for December 1, 8, and 15. Trains depart every half-hour. Tickets are not available online; they must be purchased at the ticket office, open whenever Halloween, Christmas, and weekend trains are running. Tickets are $6.

Passengers are treated to a reading of The Polar Express story during the ride. 

The Polar Express – Whippany
Friday, November 16 – Sunday, December 30, 2018 (daily except Thanksgiving and Christmas Day)
Take a ride on the magical one-hour Polar Express train ride inspired by the children's holiday classic by Chris Van Allsburg. Santa greets each child as the story is read aloud, music from the Warner Bros. movie soundtrack is played, and cookies and hot chocolate are served. Young passengers dressed in pajamas will be dazzled by the juggling chef and roaming hobos. Buy your tickets online—and hurry; they sell out fast!

The Polar Express – Phillipsburg 
Friday, November 23 – Sunday, December 16, 2018 (select dates)
Families closer to the Pennsylvania border can hop a ride to the North Pole via the Delaware River Railroad in Phillipsburg. Act fast—many dates are already sold out!

Tri-State Santa Train – Wayne
Saturday, December 8, 2018
The Tri-State Railway Historical Society presents its 25th annual Santa Train, featuring a visit with Santa and Mrs. Claus, along with some elves and cartoon characters. Each child will receive an activity book and a toy on the ride, which lasts about an hour. Departs December 8 at 9am, 11am, 1pm, and 3pm. Tickets are $23 for adults, $13 for children under 12, and free for babies in arms. Tickets online.

North Pole Express – Flemington 
Saturday, November 17 – Sunday, December 23, 2018 (weekends plus Fri. November 23)
Serving up hot chocolate and cookies, plus extra face-time with Santa and Mrs. Claus, the North Pole Express is a two-hour ride that also includes holiday face painting. See website for departure times. Tickets are $29.50 for ages 3 and up.

Santa's Paradise Express hosts The Night Before Christmas train ride in Strasburg. 

Pennsylvania Holiday Trains

North Pole Express - New Hope, PA
Saturday, November 10 - Monday, December 31, 2018
Ride along with Santa and Mrs. Claus through the historic Bucks County countryside on a vintage diesel locomotive. Enjoy cocoa, cookies and Christmas carols during the ride. Photo packages are available for an extra fee. Each ride lasts about 60 minutes. See website for schedule and prices.

Santa's Paradise Express – Strasburg, PA
Friday, November 23 – Saturday, December 22, 2018
All aboard for a classic holiday ride with Santa to Paradise, PA, and back. Santa's Paradise Express, one of the three-holiday trains operated by Strasburg Rail Road, departs on November 23-25 and December 1-2, 8-9, and 15-16. Children under 11 receive a gift from Santa and his helper. Each ride is approximately 45 minutes. Buy tickets online; prices vary.

Night Before Christmas Train – Strasburg, PA
Friday, November 30 – Friday, December 21, 2018 (Thursdays and Fridays plus Wednesday, Dec. 19)
Channeling the excitement and anticipation of Christmas Eve, this after-dark train ride includes a reading of the classic poem, The Night Before Christmas, and other holiday favorites. Children are invited to wear pajamas and are served milk and cookies on board. Buy tickets online; prices vary.

RELATED: Halloween and Fall Foliage Train Rides for New Jersey Kids

Combine a train ride with tree shopping on the Christmas Tree Train.

Christmas Tree Train – Strasburg, PA
Saturday, December 1, 2018
Ride this historic train to Leaman Place Grove to select a pre-cut Frasier or Douglas Fir tree. Trees will be delivered back to the station by flatcar. The Christmas Tree Train runs at 8am and 10:30am. Adults $18, children under 12 $3. Tickets online.

On all Strasburg departure days, Mrs. Claus will be at the station from 12–4pm to help children finalize their letters to Santa. Children can also enjoy the Tinsel Trolley, a self-propelled motor car, and storytime inside the heated, stationary caboose. 


All photos courtesy of the railways.

Updated: October 5, 2018

Morristown and Erie Railway
1 Railway Plaza
07981 Whippany , NJ 40° 49' 21.9" N, 74° 24' 43.164" W
New Jersey
Strasburg Rail Road
301 Gap Road
17572 Ronks , PA 39° 58' 58.692" N, 76° 9' 36.8784" W
Allaire State Park
4265 Atlantic Avenue
07727 Wall Township , NJ 40° 9' 26.676" N, 74° 7' 10.8336" W
New Jersey
Wayne NJ Transit
Route 23 W Belt Pkwy
07470 Wayne 40° 57' 3.0996" N, 74° 16' 39.2736" W
Black River Railroad - Flemington Station
60 Stangl Road
08822 Flemington , NJ 40° 30' 9.6084" N, 74° 51' 45.846" W
New Jersey