The best Santa train ride attractions near NYC

Before December 25 rolls in, visit the best Santa train ride attractions near NYC for a fun-filled holiday experience

Photograph: Courtesy Catskill Mountain Railroad Polar Express


Take advantage of the most wonderful time of year with the best Santa train ride attractions near NYC. When kids realize they can travel in style with the North Pole's coolest resident, they'll be thrilled. 

For a fun holiday tradition akin to The Polar Express, take a peak at these sweet, nostalgic offerings that will surely bring a smile to your little ones' faces! See? Commuting isn't so bad during Christmastime!

RECOMMENDED: Full guide to Christmas for kids in New York

After you book your tickets to the best Santa train rides near NYC, make sure you watch our favorite Christmas movies for kids, take a spin at our favorite local kids' ice skating spots and keep your love for locomotives alive with a visit to the best holiday train show displays in NYC. 

Santa train ride attractions

The New Jersey Museum of Transportation Christmas Express

Travel time: 1.5 hrs

If Christmas is incomplete without a marathon of The Polar Express, bring your little elves to this long-standing tradition. For over 35 years, families in the tri-state area have been hopping aboard The New Jersey Museum of Transportation's Christmas Express, where Santa personally comes by to greet all little passengers on board. One-on-one time with the big guy in the red suit? No need to tell us twice! Tickets are required for all passengers and must be purchased in person at the station. Call ahead to secure your spot. Learn more hereAll ages. Farmingdale, NJ (732-938-5524, Nov 23–25 from 11am–4pm, Dec 1, 2, 8, 9, 15 and 16 from 11am–4pm. Nighttime rides Dec 1, 8 and 15 from 6:30–8:30pm. $6. 

Santa Train

Travel time: 1hr 10min

This is one New Jersey train ride you won't want to miss. Tristate Railroad Historical Society's annual Christmas bash, Santa Train, is a must for all pint-sized passengers who are in a holiday state of mind. Families are invited a for a bunch of Christmas-themed projects and meet and greets with Saint Nick. Kiddos even receive small gifts! Unfortunately, the 2018 date is sold out, and Santa Train currently has its waitlist open. Learn more—and score a spot on the waitlist—here. (We are keeping our fingers crossed for a Christmas miracle so you can hop aboard the Santa Train.) Wayne, NJ (tristaterail.orgDec 8 from 8am–3pm. $23, $13 children 12 and under. 


Danbury Railway Museum Holiday Train Rides

Travel time: 2hrs

Take a step back in time and grab tickets to board the Danbury Railway Museum's vintage train car (which serves major Polar Express vibes). Tots and their parents will be whisked away on a ride through the railyard to meet Kris Kringle in toyland—a Christmas must if ever there was one. Littles will enjoy Christmas crafts, their free toy and the attraction's restored exhibits. Tickets must be reserved online in advance. Learn more hereDanbury, CT (203-778-8337, Dec 2, 8, 9, 15 and 16, $12, under 2 free. All ages.

Catskill Mountain Railroad Polar Express

Travel time: 2.5 hrs

The Polar Express is in fact real, and if you're not quite convinced, all you need is a ticket to the Catskill Mountain Railroad! The train cars—which are inspired by the beloved story—come to life as passengers take a trip to the North Pole. Expect cookies and hot chocolate on the trip as scenes from the movie play throughout the experience. Once travelers arrive at Santa's spot, they'll be thrilled to see Jolly 'Ol Saint Nick himself. Tell the kids to have their wishlists ready! Learn more here. Kingston, NY ( Nov 16–Dec 23 at various times. $40, $32 children 12 and under.


Santa Express and Northern Lights Limited

Travel time: 3 hrs

Looking for a daytime Santa adventure? Book a seat on the Santa Express, where kids will enjoy hot chocolate, elf-led Christmas carols and a chat with Santa. For an evening excursion, hop on the illuminated 1891 Rutland combine car for Northern Lights Limited, where the train is glowing with Christmas lights inside and out. You'll get to visit Santa's workshop to pick up the big man in red and his wife, Mrs. Claus! While there are no restrooms on these trains, you can find them just south of the station. Note that passengers must arrive 30 minutes before their takeoff time. Thomaston, CT (860-283-7245, Various dates and times. $1–$45.

Santa's Paradise Express

Travel time: 3hrs

Channel those holiday vibes with steam train ride alongside Kris Kringle. Since 1959, families have visited Strasburg Rail Road to enjoy the holly, jolly festivities. After seeing the sights, kids 11 and under leave the occassion with a special treat from Kris Kringle. Ronks, PA (866-725-9666, Through December at various times. $4–$32.