Looking for magical Polar Express and Christmas train rides in Maine? Here are some of the best!
A special relationship exists between trains and the Christmas season. There are so many famed Christmas tales about epic train rides, such as “The Polar Express” picture book that was transformed into a major motion picture.
Also, many families make a tradition out of placing an electric train underneath their trees, bringing the joy of Christmas to life for everyone who stops by their houses. So, it’s not too surprising that there are many festive train rides available for families to enjoy during the Christmas season in Maine.
Here are a few Christmas train rides in Maine that provide a magical, immersive experience for all ages during the merriest time of the year.
The Polar Express Train Ride | Maine Narrow Gauge Railroad Co. & Museum
The Maine Narrow Gauge Railroad Co. & Museum offers its infamous Polar Express Train Ride on most weekends during December and the week leading up to the Christmas holiday.
Located in Portland Maine, this train ride allows children and adults to experience the wonder of “The Polar Express” story in real life. Consisting of nine historic passenger train cars, this train transports visitors through time.
A Visit With Santa & His Helpers
The experience begins at the Ocean Gateway Marine Terminal, allowing everyone to enjoy a waterfront view as they glide toward the North Pole. During this first portion of the ride, guests will receive cookies and hot, hot chocolate — just like in the book and film.
Upon arriving at the North Pole, Santa and his helpers board the train to deliver the first magical gifts of Christmas. Santa has to stay at the North Pole, of course — it is a busy time of year. But, some of his elves stick with the train during the return trip home, leading all passengers in Christmas carols.
This train ride is sure to lead to lifelong memories and is particularly special for those who have long enjoyed “The Polar Express” tale.
North Pole Express | Boothbay Railway Village Museum
The Railway Village Museum in Boothbay presents the North Pole Express, its annual Christmas train ride. The train chugs along each weekend in December, giving people several opportunities to make the most of this magical season in the Northeast.
The North Pole Express is a nostalgic experience that allows young children and their families to enjoy what Christmas was like during a simpler era. The event begins inside the historic Freeport Station, which was built in 1912.
Visitors can expect to find a fire roaring inside the station, and children are able to take a moment to write letters to Santa with details of all their Christmas wishes while they wait for the train.
All Aboard to See Santa
The journey begins when the conductor comes into the train station and calls out, “All aboard!” Passengers will then board the train, which has multiple cars, including a classic red caboose, open-air cars, and traditional passenger cars.
Along the way, passengers on the train will be able to enjoy forested views of Maine, which look quite similar to the winter wonderland that is the North Pole. Eventually, everyone will arrive at the North Pole where Santa will make it a point to visit all of the children on the train.
After everyone has had a chance to meet Santa Claus and take a classic Christmas photo, the train returns to the train depot where there are more activities to enjoy at the museum.
Christmas Prelude Trolley Rides | Seashore Trolley Museum
For a completely unique experience, head to Kennebunkport Maine where you can enjoy a Christmas Prelude Trolley Ride at the Seashore Trolley Museum. The museum operates a private heritage railway, which allows it to offer special events and festive rides during December.
The Christmas Prelude Trolley Rides are typically available during two weekends in December, often the first and second weekends. However, dates may vary based on the year.
Decorated Historic Trolley Cars
When guests arrive at the museum, they will be able to board a historic trolley at their scheduled times. During Christmas, these historic trolley cars are decked with boughs of evergreen, sprigs of holly, and sparkling ornaments, making them feel merry and bright for everyone who steps on board.
Once everyone is boarded on the trolley and settled in for the ride, it will depart on the historic railway and take everyone on a tour through the museum’s wooded campus — which is often glistening with snow and ice during December.
After the trolley ride, guests can head inside the museum where they can shop in the store for everyone on their holiday shopping lists, as well as sip a delicious cup of hot cocoa. It’s the perfect way to kick off all of the Christmas festivities.
Christmas Trains to SeaLyon Farms | Wiscasset, Waterville & Farmington Railway
The Christmas Trains to SeaLyon Farms have become a traditional holiday experience in Alna Maine.
Organized by the Wiscasset, Waterville & Farmington Railway, these trains depart on select Saturdays in late November and early December from the Sheepscot Station, transporting guests to a winter wonderland at a local farm.
A Train Ride & Farm Experience in One
The Christmas train experience begins with a 20-minute train ride aboard a historic locomotive. During the train ride, passengers will enjoy forested views, as well as farmland vistas, setting the tone for a day of relaxed, spirited adventure.
Upon arrival, guests will disembark the train and board a tractor-drawn hayride where they will head to SeaLyon Farm for the next part of the experience.
At the farm, visitors will have several hours to enjoy the annual Christmas festival. The youngest passengers will have a moment to whisper their Christmas lists in Santa Claus’s ear and, of course, get their pictures taken with the big guy in red.
Also, there is shopping, dining, and other activities on site, making this a fun-filled festival for the entire family. Visitors even have the opportunity to purchase locally-grown Maine Christmas trees and have them transported back via train to take home and decorate.
Holiday Train Rides | Belfast & Moosehead Lake Railroad
For more than 150 years, the Belfast & Moosehead Lake Railroad has been transporting Waldo County passengers on journeys that they will never forget. During December, the railroad works to provide guests of all ages with magical Christmas experiences. It has three Christmastime train rides to choose from.
Christmas Tree Train Ride
Finding the perfect Christmas tree is an essential part of the Maine holiday season, particularly in Waldo County. There’s nothing quite like heading out into the wilderness to find the most majestic evergreen available and taking it home to decorate with tinsel and bulbs.
The Christmas Tree Train Ride combines the nostalgic wonder of a Christmas train ride with the rugged adventure of finding a Christmas tree. On this 1.5-hour excursion, visitors will be transported to the MOFGA station where there will be dozens of Christmas trees available to select.
Families can take their time choosing a Christmas tree, then the tree will be bundled and loaded back onto the train. Before the train departs again, children will have some time to sit on Santa’s lap and sip a cup of hot chocolate. Santa will even deliver the very first gifts of Christmas!
The Santa Express is a magical train ride on which passengers are able to enjoy the experience along with the biggest celebrity at Christmas — Santa Claus himself.
The big man will ride on the train and invite each child to visit with him to share their Christmas wish lists. All children under the age of 11 will receive a special gift from Santa Claus as well.
Throughout the rest of the train ride, all passengers can warm up with hot cocoa and fresh-baked cookies and may even get to sing a few Christmas carols along the way. The train ride itself will last for about an hour, but the memories are sure to linger for a lifetime.
Santa’s Sunset Limited
Santa’s Sunset Limited train ride is very similar to the Santa Express, except that it takes place late in the evening as the sun begins to set on yet another magical day in Maine.
During this 1-hour train ride, children will be able to ride along the tracks with Santa and take turns telling him what they want for Christmas that year.
All passengers under the age of 11 will be able to select a toy from Santa’s bag — their first gifts of Christmas. Hot cocoa and sugar cookies will be served during the journey, allowing everyone to delight in the joy of the season.
Enjoy More Than Polar Express & Christmas Train Rides in Maine
Young children who are soaking up magical Christmas moments will surely enjoy taking a Christmas train ride in Maine, while those who are older will appreciate the history and nostalgia of the experience.
Christmas train rides are just one thing to do in December in Maine. There are plenty of other festive activities to consider, such as visiting Maine Christmas towns and the Gardens Aglow event in Boothbay. You can even find quality decorations at several Christmas tree farms in Maine.