Need to put a little jingle in your step this holiday season? Check out these festive train treks—all within striking distance from Atlanta. From short train trips to all-day treks, scroll down for all you need to know about holiday train rides near you.

The Polar Express Train Ride

This 1¼ hour round-trip excursion departs the Bryson City depot for a journey to North Pole. 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.  

Details: The Polar Express departs from Bryson City from Nov. 8 through Dec. 31 on select days at 5, 6:35, & 8:15 p.m. (see schedule for details).

45 Mitchell Street
Bryson City, NC 28713

Blue Ridge Scenic Express Santa 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.

Details: The Santa Express runs from Dec. 7 to Dec. 23 on select dates at 10 a.m., 12, 2, & 4 p.m. Tickets are $47/adults, $31/kids under 13 and free for kids under 2.

Blue Ridge Scenic Railway
241 Depot St.
Blue Ridge, Ga

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 2 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. 

Details: While prices vary by coach selection and package options, the standard fare for a ride on one of SAM’s holiday trains is $37.99/adult and $27.99/child. Each trip has its own timetable and dates of travel until Dec. 20. Check here for the schedule.

SAM Shortline Excursion Train
105 East 9th Ave.
Cordele, Ga

North Pole Limited

North Pole Limited train rides leave from Chattanooga on an imaginary journey to the North Pole. Along the way, riders will enjoy refreshments, storytelling, and occasional sing-a-longs. As the Christmas train gently rolls down the rails, a number of lighted displays can be seen outside, culminating in a visit on-board the train by Santa, himself.

Details: Evening trains depart at 5:30 & 7:30 p.m., and earlier trips are available on select dates with departure times at 11:30 a.m., 1:30 & 3:30 p.m. (see calendar for details).

4119 Cromwell Rd.
Chattanooga, Tn 37421

North Pole Express

Located just south of Birmingham (a little over 2 hours from Atlanta), the North Pole Express makes its way by starlight to the top of the world. On the way, you'll listen to a whimsical Christmas story, sing your favorite holiday carols, and watch out the windows for the bright lights of the North Pole to appear. Upon arrival at the brilliantly decorated home of the Toymaker himself, the elves, Santa, and Mrs. Claus will all board the train to visit your family and to take photos with every child.

Details: Tickets begin at $28 and a variety of seating options (and prices) are offered. Evening trains depart at 5, 6:30, & 8 p.m. on select dates (see schedule for details).

1919 9th St.
Calera, AL 35040

Stone Mountain Singalong Christmas Train

For little ones with a short attention span, the Stone Mountain Christmas Train 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 carols and the story of the first Christmas.

Details: Trains depart throughout the day from Nov. 11 until Jan. 5. Singalong Christmas Train is only available on “Adventure Pass” days during Stone Mountain Christmas, and is included in a daily Christmas Adventure Pass. Be sure to check the calendar for dates and hours of operation prior to your visit. From $31.95 per person.

Stone Mountain Park
1000 Robert E. Lee Blvd. 
Stone Mountain, Ga


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—Shelley Massey