It can be difficult to occupy your family throughout the holiday season, especially once the kids get out of school for their holiday break. Luckily, there are holiday trains all around Michigan that provide fun for the entire family. These festive train rides are packed with activities and cheer that will surely get everyone into the Christmas spirit. Imagine The Polar Express meets reality – that is what these excursions are all about. Check out the list below to find a Christmas train ride near you!
Located just northwest of Grand Rapids, the Coopersville and Marne Railway has been around since 1989. Today, their operations are carried out completely by trained volunteers and they run entertainment excursions from May through September and their Santa Train in November and December. Besides entertainment, this railway also serves as a freight service throughout the entire year. Passengers will be escorted by Santa’s Elves to be seated with Santa in a decorated, vintage passenger car during the 90 minute trip from Coopersville to Marne. During this ride, children will be read Christmas themed books from their story-telling Princess and even be given a present.
Senior (60+): $22
Children (2-21): $21
Children under 2: Free
Passengers of the Steam Railroading Institute’s North Pole Express will be pulled by the world-famous Pere Marquette 1225. This four-hour, round trip train ride will depart from Owosso, Michigan, and travel to the Village of Ashley’s Country Christmas to meet Santa. This excursion offers five different classes of service all with different types of accommodations and ambiances. The North Pole Express now offers an adults-only excursion as well! The trip to the village of Ashley’s Country Christmas offers several activities from live entertainment, picture opportunities, arts and crafts and more. Be sure to get your tickets as soon as possible as this event sells out fast. Here’s a look at the different classes, check out the full list and pricing options on their website:
Caboose: Up to twelve passengers will ride in a historic caboose that has a private conductor. Passengers will receive a souvenir ticket, mug, and bell as well as personal food and beverage service.
Cocoa: You will be seated in a vintage 1940s coach with car host service and access to the concessions car. These passengers will also receive a souvenir ticket, mug, and bell as well as unlimited specialty hot cocoa.
Pere Marquette Parlour: This adult-only train ride offers luxurious seating in a vintage 1950s lounge car with panoramic views. Passengers will have access to holiday hors d’oeuvres and cocktails, unlimited hot cocoa, and car host service on top of other accommodations.
This train is known for its three-hour murder mystery train rides that include a five-course meal, but during the holidays it turns into a festive excursion. Throughout the month of December, the Old Road Dinner Train in Charlotte, Michigan provides specialty trains like Lunch with Santa and the Santa Express. The Lunch with Santa event is a two-hour train ride where lunch and different activities will be provided for children and they even will be able to meet Santa. The Santa Express train ride is approximately one and one-half hours long and provides snacks, activities, and a visit with Santa.
Lunch with Santa
Children (2-12): $22
Reservations are required and boarding starts 30 minutes prior to departure.
Children (2-12): $17
Reservations are required and boarding starts 15 minutes prior to departure.
The Little River Railroad is a non-profit dedicated to keeping the history of steam locomotives alive, restored, and operating. Located in Coldwater, Michigan, the Little River Railroad’s annual Christmas Express is a great event for all ages. This train ride on an authentic 100 year old steam engine train lasts between 45 minutes and an hour and gives a great Christmas tour of the depot. Children will be able to visit with Santa on the train where they will be able to enjoy some holiday snacks. Something nice about this train ride is that since it is shorter, it is often less crowded than others because they are able to do rides more frequently.
Children (3-11): $13
Children under 3: Free
Pre-purchased tickets are highly recommended.
The Christmas at Crossroads Holiday Magic in Flint, Michigan is one of Mid-Michigan’s best traditions. Two decorated steam locomotives will bring your family on a magical train ride adventure. This holiday packed event will give your family a night to remember with various activities including craft demonstrations, visits with Santa, costumed villagers, model trains, and live entertainment. Besides a train ride and activities, there are also options to drive through the village and see the lights as well as amusement rides. You can turn this event into a full night out by enjoying the dinner buffet at the Millstreet Warehouse.
Senior (60+): $18
Children (2-12): $16
Children under 2: Free
Pre-purchase of tickets is recommended as they often sell out in advance.