9 POLAR EXPRESS Michigan Christmas Trains | Santa | North Pole | Ride the Polar Express  to the Christmas Village of Ashley | Best Holiday Winter Train Rides to See Santa!

9 Incredible Michigan Christmas Trains 2023:  Ride the Polar Express (North Pole Express) to the Christmas Village of Ashley | Best Holiday Winter Train Rides to See Santa! | By: Sherry Trautman | Travel-Mi.com | Updated: October 27, 2023

Happy winter, my friends!  Let's embrace this Michigan winter by embarking on 9 incredible adventures for Michigan Christmas Trains and make new memories! 

What do I suggest? Well...

How about embarking on nostalgic Michigan Christmas train rides? 

It's impossible to be a Christmas Grinch when you have a hot chocolate in hand while chugging along the tracks in a vintage stream train! 

Have you heard of the Ashley Michigan Christmas train? No? Keep reading!

Oh, and this song by the Quad City DJ's has been in my head ALL DAY..."Come on, ride the train, hey, ride it!" 

I mean, how can you not want to get up and dance!?

So We've Been Asked, "Is there a Christmas Train in Michigan?"

You bet cha!

Michigan fully embraces historic trains and loves to share the adventures with you!  You can go on holiday Christmas train rides in Owosso, Flint, Tecumseh, Coldwater, Midland, Laingsburg, and Coopersville Michigan. Perfect for kids and adults alike!

Keep reading for the best winter train rides in Michigan! 

Map of Michigan Christmas Polar Express Trains!

1. Holiday Express Train Ride Clinton Township

The Holiday Express Train Ride in Clinton Township, Michigan, is a magical experience hosted by the Clinton Township Parks and Recreation along with the Michigan Transit Museum. Here's a summary of the event:

Register Here for Michigan Transit Museum Holiday Express Train Ride at Clinton Township Parks Website

Where: Joy Park, 24001 Joy Boulevard, Clinton Township, Michigan south of Hall Road and east of Gratiot.

Michigan Christmas Train Holiday Ride Overview:

  • The event re-creates the whimsical Holiday Express train ride for children of all ages.
  • The story of "The Polar Express" is read aloud as the train embarks on its journey.
  • Participants can enjoy hot chocolate and cookies, sing carols, and engage in other festive activities during the ride.

Train Start and Boarding Location:

  • The train boards at Joy Park, located at 24001 Joy Boulevard, south of Hall Road and east of Gratiot in Clinton Township, Michigan.

Accessibility and Recommendations:

  • The trains are antique, requiring several steps to enter the train car.
  • While the train cars are enclosed, they are not heated; thus, warm clothing is advised to keep comfortable during the ride.

Registration and Fees:

  • All participants aged 12 months and older need to register for the event.
  • Children under 12 months may join but will need to ride on an adult's lap and will not receive the treats unless registered.
  • Group registrations are not available, so if attendees wish to ride with another family, they need to coordinate days, dates, and times with each other.
  • Registration can be done online or through a downloaded registration form.

Holiday Train Event Schedule and Admission Fees:

  • The event is scheduled for Saturday, December 9, 2023, with trains at 5:00 pm, 6:00 pm, or 7:00 pm, and Saturday, December 16, 2023, with trains at 5:00 pm, 6:00 pm, 7:00 pm, or 8:00 pm.
  • Admission fees are $18.00 for residents and $23.50 for non-residents, with pre-registration required.

This festive train ride offers a unique way to celebrate the holiday season, creating memorable experiences for families and children.  Make sure and pre-register early.

2. Visit Crossroads Village and Huckleberry Railroad: One Of Our Favorite Michigan Christmas Trains!

Where: Address: 6140 N Bray Rd, Flint, MI

You will think you have stepped into a Norman Rockwell painting when you visit this lovely Michigan Christmas village!

Visiting Crossroads Village and Huckleberry Railroad, located in Flint, Michigan, is a fantastic way to kick off this holiday season!

train rushing by at nightAll Aboard the Huckleberry Railroad train!

  • I can't think of a better way to celebrate a lovely nostalgic Christmas season than to visit Crossroads Village and climb aboard the coal-fired locomotive pulled by either engine #12 or engine #152 built by the Baldwin Locomotive Works.

Passengers will pass twinkling light displays, sleepy towns and through dark forests while singing Christmas carols. 

The Huckleberry Railroad is an incredible holiday winter train ride experience that is perfect for the whole family!

Do You Know When Did Michigan's Railroad System Begin?

Fun fact icon

Per Michigan.gov, Michigan’s railroad system began in the 1830s.  By the 1900s, there were more than 9,000 route miles! But due to the use of vehicles, Michigan’s railroad system now only has about 3,600 route miles of track. 

3.  Choo Choo! All Aboard the Southern Michigan Railroad Santa Express Train!

Where: Tecumseh Station — 112 N Evans, Tecumseh MI

Do you want to ride a train AND see Santa Claus? 

Step aboard the Santa Express train for a 45-minute ride up to Santa’s workshop. Kids will have a chance to tell Santa just how good they’ve been this year and what they have on their Christmas list!

Book your spot on the ‘Presents and Toys’ coach filled up with holiday lights and wrapped presents or enjoy the trip in the ‘Candy Cane Caboose’ stuffed with candy canes and a Christmas tree! Santa’s workshop will be full of lights and you’ll be able to enjoy a fresh cup of hot chocolate!

Oh, and dress warmly!  You may be standing outside for a while and these historic rail cars are not heated.

Heck, I'd pack a thin blanket to wrap around my legs!

Check their website for dates, times and tickets!

4. The "Real" Polar Express (North Pole Express Experience) Train Ride Michigan + Visit a Lovely Michigan Christmas Village! Buy Tickets Early!

Where is The Polar Express in Michigan?  Owosso, Michigan is home to the iconic North Pole Express that is powered by the world-famous Pere Marquette 1225.

Address: 405 South Washington Street, Owosso, MI 48867

Polar Express Train at NightRide the Michigan Polar Express Train to the Christmas village of Ashley

Chris and I absolutely love embarking the incredible winter adventure of riding the Polar Express train ride in Michigan!

  • Located in Owasso, Michigan, the iconic North Pole Express is powered by the world-famous Pere Marquette 1225, a 1941 Berkshire type steam locomotive. It's truly an impressive sight!

You will depart from the Steam Railroading Institute in Owosso for an incredible four and a half hour, round trip excursion to the Village of Ashley Country Christmas.  

By the way, the North Pole Express is sometimes called the Ashley Michigan Christmas train. 

  • Be sure to peer outside as the Pere Marquette 1225 chugs along the tracks for one hour and fifteen minute winter train ride toward the Michigan Christmas village of Ashley. 

Upon arriving at the Village of Ashley’s Country Christmas, you will disembark and enjoy two hours to wander the village. It's fun to wander around the nostalgic village while enjoying treats, sipping hot cocoa, stopping into eateries, shopping, seeing live entertainment and getting into the holiday mood!

You can also buy nostalgic Christmas crafts from local artisans for gifts at the Village of Ashley Country Christmas.  Oh, and be sure to meet with Santa Claus so he knows what to bring down your chimney this Christmas!

  • Pro Tip: Buy your tickets early (keep a watch for ticket sales opening up very early, sometimes as early as September). 
Inside the North Pole Express trainSherry and Chris Enjoying the Parlor Car (adults only) in the Michigan Polar Express Train!

I love that you can choose from a variety of classes of service on the North Pole Express Christmas train. Chris and I chose the adults only parlor and absolutely loved the hot chocolate, cookies (desserts), drinks, and posh environment. 

You can also choose from six different classes of service: Vintage 1950s coach cars, vintage 1960s Hi-Level passenger cars, Adult Only Pere Marquette Parlour, tables for four in the Claus Club, Caboose and more! Each offer a different accommodation but they all have a cheerful Christmas ambiance.

5. Little River Railroad's Holiday Express - Start Your Own Holiday Traditions This Christmas!

Where: Address: 29 W Park Ave, Coldwater, MI 49036

2023 Holiday Express Dates: December 2, 3, 9, 10, 2023. Trains depart at 11:30 am and 2:00 pm.  Enjoy a steam powered round trip to Quincy, Michigan. 

This December, ride the rails with an authentic 100 year steam engine train at the Little River Railroad!  Enjoy countryside views while chugging along in a historic train powered by real steam locomotives!

  • The round trip train rides leaves from the station in Coldwater, Michigan.  Plus, during a short stop in Quincy, you can see how the locomotive is switched to the other end of the train for your trip back to Coldwater!   

Oh, and passengers can visit with Santa aboard this Michigan Christmas train! 

See their website for available dates and times in December.  Book early on their website. 

6. Ride the Quaint Northern Star Railroad in Midland Michigan

Where: Midland, MI Santa House

Calendar: Northern Star Train Rides

In downtown Midland Michigan, you can ride the quaint Northern Star Railroad for a short ride around the downtown area.  Lovely free Christmas train ride!

Chris and I ride this train every Christmas as we love to get dinner in downtown Midland at either Gratzi or Pizza Baker. Then we window shop and enjoy the festivities of the Santa House.

7. Coopersville & Marne Railway’s Santa Train Near Grand Rapids

Where: 306 Main St, Coopersville, MI 49404 (west of Grand Rapids)

Allllllll aboard the Santa Train in Coopersville, Michigan!  The lovely Coopersville and Marne Railway only runs on the weekends in December, so book your tickets early!  

These vintage train rides in west Michigan are 90 minutes.  All of their coaches are heated and each has a restroom.

8. Peacock Road Family Farm Train Ride to See Santa! Kids Will LOVE it!

Where: 11854 Peacock Road, Laingsburg, MI 48848

This Christmas season, grab your friends and family to ride the Peacock Express to see Santa and Mrs. Claus! The train leaves the station every half hour and you can buy your tickets on their website.

Along the way, you will travel past the Animal Park, cross over a river and meander through the woods to reach Santa's cosy cabin. Be sure to keep an eye out as Santa will be waiting for you!

After speaking with Santa, enjoy a cup of hot chocolate and roast some marshmallows over the warm crackling fire as you wait for the train to return.

  • Chris and I hope you are inspired to embark on one of these Michigan Christmas Trains as the adventure, memories and fun will keep you warm for a lifetime (or until next winter's train adventure!) 

9. Spicer Orchards Doughnuts | See Santa Claus

Where: 10411 CLYDE RD, FENTON, MI 48430

Private visit with Santa Claus and enjoy a Doughnut and drink. Check out the Farm market and winery.  Holiday gifts and baskets and feed the reindeer.  Ride the train but book early.   

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About the Lead Author | Sherry Trautman

Thanks for stopping by!

Our Words of Wisdom: “Never follow anyone else’s path. Unless you’re in the woods and you’re lost and you see a path, then by all means follow that path.”

"Sherry & Chris"

We're Sherry and Chris the founders of one of Michigan's most comprehensive and Top Travel Blogs!

    Sherry Trautman is a seasoned business owner and a multifaceted content creator, deeply entrenched in the world of travel in Michigan. With her extensive background in writing, editing, photography, marketing, website design, web mastering, social media, and publishing, she is the driving force behind the acclaimed Michigan Travel site "Travel-mi.com." A lifelong Michigander, Sherry's journey began in Mt. Pleasant, Michigan led her to St. Joseph during her formative years, and further to Kalamazoo for her higher education. She holds a Bachelor of Science in Industrial Design and Fine Art from Western Michigan University. Her career initially blossomed in Battle Creek, where she contributed significantly to aviation, marketing, and the art industry.

    In 2018, Sherry, alongside her husband Chris, embarked on a passionate endeavor with the inception of Travel-MI.com. This venture was not just a business but a full-time commitment to exploring and celebrating the diverse landscapes and communities of Michigan. Together, they tirelessly traverse the state, curating unique experiences, capturing stunning visuals, and weaving engaging narratives that showcase Michigan's rich cultural tapestry and natural beauty. From her early experiences in different Michigander locales to her extensive professional background, Sherry's life and work epitomize a deep-rooted expertise in Michigan travel, making her an authoritative voice in this niche.

Sherry & Chris are at the Inn at Bay Harbor and looking out at the lake.
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