All Aboard! Holiday, Santa, and Polar Express Train Rides

This year, my parents took our family to French Lick where our girls got to ride the famous French Lick Polar Express to the North Pole.  They loved dancing and singing with the elves, drinking hot chocolate and eating cookies, and (of course) riding a real train. It was a festive way to kick off our holiday season!

All Aboard: Where to Ride a Holiday Train

All Aboard! Where to catch a ride on a holiday train or the Polar Express

The French Lick Polar Express has been known to sell out an entire YEAR in advance. (It’s been called one of the top five most magical Polar Express rides in the country, so it’s not surprising that it’s popular.) If you can’t snag French Lick Polar Express tickets for this year, here’s a list of other Polar Express train ride locations (and other holiday trains) for you to consider.

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Tonight was our family's second time on the #FrenchLickPolarExpress.🚂 The first was five years ago! A few tips: 1) Buy tickets early….very early. They're known to sell out, and many people buy almost a year in advance! 2) Wear pajamas, preferably matching. This is your moment. Live it up! And guess what else? This time of year it is completely accepted and expected to see entire families in their Christmas jammies in restaurants all around French Lick and West Baden. 🤩 3) Dress for the weather (there is some outdoor time waiting for the all aboard at the station) and plan for the whole experience to take about two hours including the wait, picture stops, and the magical journey by train to/from the north pole. 4) There are cookies and hot chocolate, but there were no bathrooms on our train car. 5) Santa will come aboard for pictures at The North Pole. 6) You'll have more fun if you're willing to dance, sing, and be silly, because that's the way things happen on the Polar Express! If you've been before, what tips would you add?

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Catch a ride on the Holiday Express at Deming Park. The train will run Dec. 2-22 weather permitting from 6-8 p.m. $1 per ride.

The trackless train powered by Duke Energy will be rolling through downtown Terre Haute on Friday and Saturday during Miracle on 7th Street.

On December 7 and 9, head to Monticello, Illinois for Lunch with Santa on the Train. Enjoy a train ride, individual visit with Santa, and kid-friendly sack lunch.

Friday, December 6 to Sunday, December 8, Santa Claus will ride the rails on our 30th annual Santa Train, spreading good cheer and lasting memories to kids and families in communities along our route! Admission is FREE. Stops made in Linton, Dugger, Jasonville, and Sullivan!


Head to Indy for a ride on the Sullivan Express Santa Train from November 27-December 30.   86 miles from Terre Haute in Indianapolis. Narrated ride through bear country, visit Santa and his workshop, and more!

The White River Valley Railroad offers special holiday excursions, Santa Claus Limit trains, and The Polar Express (TM) Train Rides!

Reindeer Ride to Noblesville operates Nov. 23- Dec. 22 on Saturdays and Sundays. Book your seats for a newly enhanced Christmas adventure in Forest Park, Noblesville. (2 hours from Terre Haute.)


We also find it fun to travel by train during the holiday season. The kids can wander around the train cars and the parents don’t have to worry about driving in sketchy road conditions. Win-win! You can read all about how our family travels by train to Chicago HERE. A holiday train ride is a great tradition for families with young kids, since most kids adore trains. And for those of us in Terre Haute, an amazing train ride could almost make up for all of the times we’re railroaded around town. Oh, who am I kidding? Nothing could make up for that! At the very least, a holiday train ride reminds parents that trains aren’t completely bad.

In 2019, The Chicago Transit Authority’s holiday train will soon roll into service. The six-car train decorated with holiday scenes, lights and LED displays will begin service Friday, Nov. 29 on all CTA lines. Santa and his reindeer will ride along and greet children and their families.

Must-read tips for traveling by train to Chicago!



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