We think you’ll love these holiday train rides as much as your kids do

The holidays are chugging down the track, and a festive train ride may be just the thing that’ll blow everyone’s whistle. After you find your Christmas tree, check out these holiday train treks—all within striking distance from Atlanta—that boast everything from hot chocolate to Santa himself. From short train trips to all-day treks, we’ve got what you need to know about these exciting, and not-too-typical train rides. We’ve even got details on the only Polar Express train ride near Atlanta for those who believe. But you better book fast. These trains tend to sell out.

1. The Polar Express Train Ride

This round-trip excursion departs the Bryson City depot for a journey to North Pole. It's the only Polar Express train ride near Atlanta, for those who believe. Guests on board will enjoy warm cocoa and a treat while listening and reading along with story of The Polar Express, arriving just in time to find Santa Claus waiting for them. Each child will also receive their own silver bell from Santa.

Dates: Nov. 10-Dec. 31
Cost: Starting at $44/adult; $29/kid

45 Mitchell St.
Bryson City, NC
Online: gsmr.com

2. Atlanta Botanical Garden

Ride the holiday train at the botanical gardens. This holiday train takes a trip around the great lawn and everyone will love it. You must pay for general admission to the gardens in order to ride the train.

Dates: Sat. & Sun, Nov. 19, 2022-Jan. 8, 2023
Cost: $5/person

1345 Piedmont Ave. N.E.
Event details

Related: Shine Bright! Your Ultimate Guide to Christmas Lights in Atlanta

3. Blue Ridge Scenic Express Holiday Express

If you’re looking for a day trip out of the city, check out The Blue Ridge Scenic Railroad’s collection of antique trains that run between Blue Ridge and McCaysville, Georgia. The Santa Express is a short, one-hour daytime trip with Christmas stories, songs and characters—including Santa, of course, as the main event. Or, opt for the four-hour Santa Pavilion trip, which takes riders to visit Santa and Mrs. Claus at the Santa Pavilion.

Dates: Nov. 25-Dec. 23
Cost: $53/adult; $41/kid

241 Depot St.
Blue Ridge, GA
Online: brscenic.com

4. SAM Shortline Candy Cane Express

A ride on this 1949 vintage train that runs from Georgia Veterans State Park to Archery, Georgia is well worth the two-hour drive from Atlanta, especially if your holiday travel plans take you south. SAM offers multiple Christmas-themed trips, including the Mistletoe Express, Candy Cane Express, and the North Pole Express. The Candy Cane express makes a stop at the Jimmy Carter National Historic Site Museum, as well as Main Street in Plains, where peanut butter treats await.

Dates: Dec. 3-7
Cost: $40/adult; $30/kid

105 E. 9th Ave.
Cordele, GA
Online: samshortline.com

5. North Pole Limited

North Pole Limited train rides leave from Chattanooga on an imaginary journey to the "North Pole." Along the way, you’ll be treated to refreshments and storytelling while you write your own personal letter to Santa. As the North Pole Limited train gently rolls down the rails, a number of lighted displays can be seen outside. Once the train pulls into the “North Pole,” Santa will greet the train and the car hosts will deliver your personal messages to Old St. Nick. Before leaving the elves will deliver their famous North Pole hot chocolate for your journey back to Grand Junction. 

Good to Know: This is just one of four festive train rides the TVRR offers this season. There's also a Holiday Lights Train, a Christmas Tea, and Santa's Hiwassee Holiday ride—even more great options for families.

Dates: Nov. 18-Dec. 23
Cost: Starting at $29/person

4119 Cromwell Rd.
Chattanooga, TN
Online: tvrail.com

6. Scenic Railroad at Stone Mountain

For little ones with a short attention span, the Stone Mountain Scenic Railway is the perfect opportunity to get a taste of the tracks before nap time. The five-mile, 40-minute trip takes a tour through the park and includes Christmas music, lights, and appearances by holiday characters that will get their faces smiling. Once you've ridden the train, experience The Polar Express in 4-D at the park. It's just one of the many holiday-themed activities going on this season.

Dates: Nov. 13, 2022-Jan. 2, 2023
Cost: $40/adult; $35/kid

1000 Robert E. Lee Blvd.
Stone Mountain, GA
Online: stonemountainpark.com

7. Winter Wonderland Train Ride

Enjoy a ride on the Winter Wonderland train at Pine Mountain Gold Museum. On select nights from November through December, this festive train takes you to see over six miles of lights, sparkling against the night sky. That's more than 52,000 points of light to marvel at as you make your way through the forest on this scenic train ride. Get tickets for a specific time and night, and then make sure to arrive 30 minute early (at least) so you won't miss the train (they do like to depart on time, after all). Food vendors and concessions will be available on-site.

Dates: Nov. 30-Dec. 30
Cost: $13/person; Free, kids 2 & under

1881 Stockmar Rd.
Villa Rica, GA
Online: pmgm.ticketleap.com

Related: 9 Things to Do on Christmas Day in Atlanta

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