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6 Magical Train Rides to Give Your Kids a Real-Life Polar Express Experience

Have you ever read a book and wanted nothing more than to immerse yourself in its magical world? Well, you and your entire family can experience a little Christmas magic à la The Polar Express with these train rides. From literal reenactments of the classic book to snowy adventures that people of all ages and creeds can enjoy, these railroad experiences will become a lifelong memory for you and your loved ones.

1. The Polar Express train ride, Vermont

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Image: Vermont Children’s Trust Foundation. Vermont Children's Trust Foundation

Leaving from Burlington, Vermont, the Polar Express train ride is a 20-minute jaunt on which kids are served hot cocoa and cookies and join in a Christmas carol sing-along. Once they get off at Union Station (aka the North Pole!) they read the classic picture book and get a chance to meet Santa. This adventure is perfect for younger kids and parents who still believe in the magic of Christmas.

2. North Pole Express, Pennsylvania

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Image: New Hope Railroad. New Hope Railroad

New Hope, Pennsylvania, is home to a classic North Pole train excursion that will delight kids and parents alike. Train lovers will enjoy the chance to be pulled by a vintage diesel locomotive, while the little ones will feel the magic of the holidays when they get to meet Santa and Mrs. Claus. Musicians sing carols up and down the train, cookies and cocoa are served and everyone wears their pajamas as the train winds through the countryside for the hour.

3. The Polar Express train ride, New York

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Image: Adirondack Scenic Railroad. Adirondack Scenic Railroad

Travel through the scenic Adirondacks on this Polar Express train ride experience that leaves from Utica’s Union Station. The total trip is two hours, longer than most, and includes cocoa, cookies and a reading of The Polar Express. On the return, Santa takes the time to talk with every family on the train individually, so every kid has a chance to tell him their Christmas wishes.

4. The train to Christmas Town, Oregon

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Image: Premier Rail Collection. Premier Rail Collection

All aboard the train to Christmas Town! On this trip, families will be doted upon by singing elves that sing original and classic Christmas songs, serve cookies and cocoa and play games with all of the children. Santa will board the train and give each child a special gift once the train arrives at the bedazzling lighted Christmas Town. The total experience is just over an hour long.

5. The Glacier Express, Switzerland

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Image: The Glacier Express. The Glacier Express

You’ll feel like you’re traveling to the North Pole on this train ride through the Swiss Alps, perfect for families with older kids who still want to get in on a Christmas adventure. Travel up and around towering snowcapped mountains, over arched viaducts and past glacial lakes. The train is outfitted with special windows in their panoramic carriages that are specifically made to give travelers the most scenic views possible. Load up on Swiss chocolates before you go, and have fun watching the snow outside your window.

6. The Jacobite steam train, Scotland

Harry Potter obsessives will recognize the Jacobite’s track over the 21-arch Glenfinnan Viaduct as the same taken by the Hogwarts Express in the movies. This 84-mile round-trip train ride through Scotland is the next best thing to actually traveling to a wizarding boarding school. Stock up on pumpkin pasties and chocolate frogs, and get ready for a journey the whole family will love — adults for the gorgeous views of the Scottish countryside, kids because they’ll feel like they’re on their way to something magical.

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