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The Best Holiday Train Rides in New Jersey

The latest update for The Best Holiday Train Rides in New Jersey is written by Lindsay Podolak.

With Christmas just around the corner, New Jersey families with young children are on the lookout for magical ways to celebrate the season. One of the best ways to get in the holiday spirit is to climb aboard a holiday-themed train. New Jersey is home to several great train rides that feature beautiful holiday music and decorations, delicious sweet treats and even an appearance from the big man himself.

During each of these trains, Santa makes time to talk to every young rider and pose for photos. These popular holiday train rides sell out quickly, though, so be sure to get your tickets soon!

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The North Pole Express on the Black River & Western Railroad

holiday train

Where: 80 Stangl Road, Flemington
Details: The Black River and Western Railroad offers the only steam-powered Christmas Train in New Jersey. Beginning on November 23, riders can hop aboard the North Pole Express, a two-hour excursion that features a visit from Santa and Mrs. Claus. Guests board the train in Flemington, where they meet the conductor and Santa’s elves. The train then heads to the North Pole, where riders can disembark to get a cookie and hot cocoa, visit the museum and take pictures.
Why I like it: New for 2019 is the “Christmas Limited” ride at Ringoes Station. Kids get a silver sleigh bell gift from Santa, a photo op, plus a free cookie and hot cocoa.
More info: Visit the website or you can give them a call.

The Polar Express Train Ride

holiday train

Where: 1 Railroad Plaza, Whippany
Details: Passengers aboard Whippany’s Polar Express Train relive the magic of the beloved children’s story during this one-hour trip to the North Pole. Each car has its own host who will punch your golden ticket before dancing chefs serve cookies and hot chocolate. Passengers are then treated to a reading of the classic holiday tale. Santa and his helpers board the train to greet passengers and give each child the gift of a silver sleigh bell. Guests can choose between Coach and First Class amenities. The Polar Express Train Ride departs from Whippany Station, with rides beginning on November 16.
Why I like it: You get to choose specific seats when you purchase tickets, so there’s no rushing to make sure your entire party sits together when you board.
More info: Visit the website or you can give them a call.

The Christmas Express on Pine Creek Railroad

holiday train

Where: Allaire State Park, 4265 Atlantic Avenue, Wall Township
Details: The Santa Express has been a holiday tradition for more than 35 years. Santa visits and chats with every child on the train during this ride through Allaire State Park. Tickets are currently available, but you must purchase them in person. Train rides begin November 29, with both day and evening rides available. In addition to the train ride, guests can explore the Historic Village at Allaire and celebrate the joys of Christmas past. The Village offers weekend events during the holidays, including Christmas Lantern Tours.
Why I like it: Trains leave every half hour between 11:00 am – 4:00 pm and 6:00 pm – 8:30 pm; which is great for those with a busy schedule.
More info: Visit the website or you can give them a call.

The Santa Express on Cape May Seashore Line

holiday train

Where: Reading Avenue & Mill Road, Woodbine
Details: Climb aboard the Santa Express, which makes regular runs between the river towns of Tuckahoe and Richland. Of course, the train itself is full of holiday lights and decorations, and features Christmas music in every car. Santa and his elves visit each child on board. Riders also enjoy hot chocolate and cookies. The Santa Express runs every weekend between Thanksgiving and Christmas. An evening Starlight Express will also run on select weeknights. They strongly urge families to purchase tickets online prior to their train ride, as they sell out quickly.
Why I like it: Forgot your camera phone? A professional photographer is on board to help document your visit with Santa.
More info: Visit the website.

Tri-State Santa Train

Where: Wayne/Route 23 Transit Center, Route 23 Southbound & West Belt Parkway, Wayne
Details: On Saturday, December 14, the Tri-State Railway Historical Society hosts its 26th annual Santa Train. There are four time-slots available for this one-day only event. Operated by New Jersey Transit on a modern passenger train, the 60-minute trip features a visit from Santa himself, who provides each young passenger with an activity book, candy cane and a small toy. Tickets are available for purchase online starting in October. With this in mind, don’t forget your camera to capture this special holiday moment!
Why I like it: Passengers with disabilities can access the train via a wheelchair ramp leading up to a high level platform, ensuring that no one wishing to experience the magic of Christmas is left out.
More info: Visit the website or you can give them a call.

The Polar Express Train Ride

NJ HolidayTrain Rides The Polar Express

Where: 99 Elizabeth Street, Phillipsburg
Details: Act fast, because tickets sell out quick for this one! (In fact, you often need to book this one when tickets go on sale in June.) Each guest on the train enjoys hot chocolate and cookies, along with a reading of the classic storybook. Santa visits with each child and gives sleigh bells out to those who believe. On-board entertainment also includes roaming hobos and a juggling chef. Guests are welcome to to wear their pajamas and join in on the magic of the season. The train is pulled by an antique diesel locomotive and consists of antique restored passenger cars from the 1950s.
Why I like it: Both a snack bar and gift shop have items available to purchase on board the train.
More info: Visit the website or you can give them a call.

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