Holiday Trains for Chicagoland Families

Go on a magical train ride at these places in the city and suburbs this holiday season.

Holiday trains in Chicago and the suburbs are a great way to see twinkling lights and spend some time with Santa. If you haven’t booked your special train ride for the holiday season, time to get going! The popular rides sell out fast.

Here are a few holiday trains you don’t want to miss.

ZooLights

Nov. 17, 2023-Jan. 7, 2024 

  • Address: Lincoln Park Zoo, 2001 N. Clark St., Chicago
  • Cost: $7-$10/Tuesdays-Sundays, free/Mondays; fees for additional encounters and activities

In addition to seeing all of the ZooLights attractions, kids can ride the Lionel Train Adventure, ATT Endangered Species Carousel and Ferris wheel as ticketed experiences.

Happy Holiday Railway

Nov. 24-26; Dec. 2-3, 9-10, 16-17, 2023

Take a 40-minute train ride trip through the winter countryside on one of the museum’s trains. Sip on hot chocolate and enjoy treats while you await your visit from Santa on the train. Also, be sure to check out the holiday lights display at the boarding area, including the biggest and brightest Christmas tree in McHenry County. New this year is an animated light show and holiday song presentation during the trip. For those averse to animated lights, car #7658 will omit the entertainment and will feature traditional lights and decorations.

Holiday Express

Nov. 30; Dec. 2-3, 7-10, 14-17, 2023

See Santa and his elves at Blackberry Farm for pictures. Also, enjoy holiday displays, Gingerbread School House, Little Elf Hobby Shoppe, Candy Cane Village, a gift shop, Sugar Plum Playland and more. Special Needs Night is Friday, Dec. 1 from 5-8 p.m.

Chicago Union Station The Polar Express Train Ride

Dec. 1, 2023-Jan. 1, 2024

  • Address: 500 W. Jackson Blvd., Chicago
  • Cost: Value Departures: $55/ages 12-plus, $47/ages 2-11; Standard Departures: $67/ages 12-plus, $59/ages 2-11; Premium Departures: $80/ages 12-plus, $72/ages 2-11

Relive the magic of The Polar Express on a real train ride. Take the one-hour train ride to meet Santa Claus and have hot chocolate and Walker’s Shortbread. Each guest will receive a keepsake sleigh bell.

Christmas Express 2023

Dec. 2-3, 2023

Take a magical round-trip train ride from New Lenox to Tinley Park with songs and entertainment. Tickets include a visit with Santa, breakfast or lunch, plus many activities.

The Polar Express Storytime Train

Dec. 2-3, 2023

Families can travel to the North Pole to pick up Santa and his friends and then travel back to Geneva for a meal. Kids can visit with Santa and have a picture taken, too. Wear your pajamas. Pre-registration is required.

Oswego Holiday Express

Dec. 8-10, 2023

Head to Santa Station in your pajamas for a trip to the North Pole. The Oswego Holiday Express will take you on a magical journey. Sip on hot chocolate and meet Santa and Mrs. Claus.

Polar Express Storytime Train

Dec. 9, 17 2023

A storyteller will be on the train to narrate the Polar Express while families enjoy cookies and chocolate milk. They can also partake in a snowball fight at the North Pole and find Santa Claus to ride the train back. Wear your pajamas.

Winfield Polar Express

Dec. 16, 2023

Families can hop aboard the train for cookies, hot chocolate and the re-telling of the famous Polar Express. Registration required.

Polar Express

Dec. 18-20, 2023

Enjoy a ride on the Polar Express and stop at the North Pole’s train station for some winter fun. Each child will receive a memento. Pre-registration required.

CTA Holiday Train

2023 dates TBA

  • Various CTA stations across the city
  • Cost: $2.50, kids under 7 ride for free

One of Chicago’s most popular events, the Holiday Train, happens aboard Chicago’s CTA elevated train, the “L.” Even in the most frigid temps, you’ll find Santa outside on his sleigh while his elves hand out candy canes to passengers inside the train car.

This post is updated annually.


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