Maryland and DC Area Christmas Train Events Your Kids Will Love! (updated for 2023)

strasburg santa train

These Maryland and DC Christmas train events will delight you and your kids! Santa trains and train gardens are a great way to connect during the holidays! (updated for 2023!)

What is it about trains and Christmas that is just so magical? Whether you enjoy a cozy ride in the country with Santa Claus or pop into the local fire department to see their model train display, no holiday season would be complete without checking out a Christmas train.

These Christmas train events are sure to keep the Holiday magic going strong for you and your entire family.

B&O Railroad Museum Magical Holiday Express

Tickets to the very popular Polar Express are a hot number (yes, I did write that. lol). The B&O Railroad Museum has expanded their dates for the Polar Express and it’s really a fun interactive experience for kids!

Polar Express! dates for 2023 are: November 24-26 & December 1-3, 8-10 & 15-19, 2023.

B&O Christmas trains

Walkersville Southern Railroad Santa Train

This is probably one of our family’s favorite holiday traditions. The Walkersville Southern Santa Train is perfect for young kids. It isn’t intimidating, the ride is gorgeous, and milk and cookies are served at the end of the ride.

Santa Train dates for 2023 are: November 24-26; December 3, 9, 10, 17.

Walkersville Southern Railroad also recently added another fun Winter-themed train event. Winter Express with Santa and Friends features the Ice Queen and Ice Princess (Elsa and Anna). This special event train runs December 2 and 16.

santa train walkersville

Related: 40+ FREE Christmas Events in Maryland!

Christmas at Strasburg Rail Road

strasburg christmas train

Trust me, this Lancaster County train experience is totally worth the drive. We have experienced both their traditional Santa Train and the Night Before Christmas train. They are both fantastic. Here are some more details on the Christmas train rides that are offered:

  • Santa’s Paradise Express: Much like the Walkersville Southern Santa Train, Jolly Old Saint Nick will pay each kid a visit and riders will also be treated to other live entertainment designed to put a smile on your face and a warm fuzzy in your heart. Make sure to come early or stay late to check out the other Christmas-themed activities included in your ticket cost.
  • The Night Before  Christmas Train: Just like the name suggests, don your pajamas and get ready to sip on some milk and cookies while enjoying a dramatic reading of this beloved classic. You might even sneak a peak of the little red elf himself!
  • Christmas Tree Train: This is such a unique Christmas experience your family will treasure! Ride aboard the Christmas Tree Train to Leaman Place Grove where you can choose a pre-cut Frasier or Douglas Fir tree and have it delivered by steam on a flatcar back to the station. 
christmas train pa

Related: ICE! at the Gaylord National is a Must Do Holiday Splurge!

Western Maryland Scenic Railroad

western md scenic railroad

Take a one-of-a-kind trek through Winter Land aboard the Western Maryland. In 2023, the Western Maryland Scenic Railroad will once again host the Polar Express!

2023 Polar Express Experience dates are: November 24-26 and December 1-3, 8-10, and 15-24.

The ride is 60 minutes long and tickets start at $35. Here is more information on the Polar Express Experience. 

western md scenic railroad

Related: Brookside Gardens Christmas Lights are completely magical

North Central Railway of York

north central railraod

We checked out the Santa Express a few years ago and it was totally awesome! The North Central Railway is located in York, PA (so just over the MD-PA border), these trains have a fantastic reputation with families. 

  • Santa Express: Our train is decked out for the festive season, bringing holiday cheer, no matter your age. Climb aboard for a ride to to Glen Rock and back, where each child will receive a special gift from Santa’s helper. The excitement will build as you get back to the station for a visit to Santa! Disembark and travel through a Winter Wonderland to meet the big guy himself, where you will receive a keepsake picture of your visit! And it wouldn’t be the Santa Express without hot chocolate and a cookie! Strolling fiddler, Keith Engle, will be providing music to get everyone in the spirit!
  • Christmas Elves Express: This is the version of the Santa Express that starts off the season in November!

2023 Christmas Train dates are: 24-26 November and 2-3, 8-10, 16-17, and 22-23 December.

north central railroad

Stone Gables Estate Train

The Stone Gables Estate Train is a great winter train experience in the Hershey-Harrisburg area. You take the train through the center of Stone Gables Estate on the Harrisburg, Lincoln & Lancaster Railroad and into the train shed.

The train traverses the original 1838 railroad bed on which President Lincoln’s funeral train traveled on April 22, 1865. Featured is a replica of an 1868 steam locomotive, pulling replicas of an 1848 Pioneer Coach and a mid-1860’s Combine & Day Coach.

The Santa Express at Stone Gables Estate is a narrated Christmas experience train ride. 2023 dates are: 23-24 November and 2, 9, 16, and 19-23 December.

After (or before) your train ride check out the National Christmas Center!

Have a great time on your Santa Train Excursion.. and Merry Christmas!

stone gable christmas train
Images courtesy of Leah at @mdfunfam

Stewartstown Railroad

The Stewartstown Railroad is located just over the Maryland-PA border. During the holidays they offer a Santa Claus Express train ride aboard their 1920 passenger car. Every 50-60 minute train ride includes a visit with Santa himself!

2023 Dates are: 25-26 November and 3, 16, 17, and 23 December.

Stewartstown Railroad is also hosting a holiday food drive during their Santa Train event. Guests are asked to bring non-perishable goods to donate.


Is there a Polar Express in Maryland?

YES! There are two actually. You can catch the Polar Express at the B&O Railroad Museum in Baltimore or aboard the Western Maryland Scenic Railroad in Cumberland, MD.

Do adults wear pajamas on the Polar Express train?

Families are encouraged to wear pajamas on the Polar Express train ride, but you don’t have to.

Where does the Baltimore Polar Express go?

Passengers will go on a round trip journey to the ‘North Pole.’ Ok, not really. The train will travel the same route as other Baltimore trains but it will be outfitted with all the Polar Express activities and decorations!

What are the best Santa trains within day trip distance of Maryland and DC?

Our top pick for Santa Train is the Walkersville Southern Santa Train. However, the Western Maryland Scenic Railroad Polar Express, the North Central Railroad Santa Express, and the Strasburg Railroad Night Before Christmas Train are all excellent choices too!

Check out these Christmas ideas too!

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