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Polar Express Michigan: 7 Magical Michigan Christmas Trains

polar express michigan

Michigan’s Polar Express Train Ride (Plus More Magical Michigan Train Rides)

The Polar Express Michigan is more than than just the stuff of holiday dreams, and we’ve got some amazing Christmas train rides in Michigan to share with you.

A special ride on a Christmas train to ring in the holidays is one of the most memorable, kid-friendly holiday events in Michigan. From Santa trains to speacial holiday train rides through a snowy winter wonderland, a ride on Michigan steam trains or a diesel locomotive during the holidays is a Michigan Christmas must.

Take a Magical Ride on a Michigan Polar Express to the North Pole

Maybe you’ve seen The Polar Express movie, the story of a young boy beckoned on a magical Christmas Eve to ride a secret express train to the North Pole?

Based on a book by Grand Rapids native Chris Van Allsburg, the story of an Polar Express Train to Santa’s north pole heaquarters has captivated both children and adults, and it is more than make-believe.

It’s true: the steam engine featured, the Pere Marquette 1225 steam train in the book is real, and based on an experience Van Allburg has a child growing up in Michigan. You can take a ride on this North Pole Express and other steam locomotives in Michigan to visit with Santa Claus this holiday season.

A Holiday Express Train Ride

If you haven’t seen the Polar Express yet, why not experience it first hand with these cheery Christmas train rides in Michigan and make it part of your holiday tradition? So ,get in your best holiday garb, strap on your Santa hats, and book your ticket now for the ride of your life.

If you’re looking for a “polar express train ride near me”, or a “Christmas train ride near me “, read on for some special train tours in Michigan.

PRO-TIP: These train rides make a perfect holiday date night, as well as a fun holiday gift. You can find ticket info for each venue in this post.

Michigan's polar express

North Pole Express Train Ride from Owosso to Ashley Michigan

Pere Marquette 1225 (The Polar Express)
405 S Washington St, Owosso, MI 48867

It would only make sense that the very train that The Polar Express was based on is still going strong every Saturday and Sunday throughout the Christmas season, running between Owosso and the village of Ashley MI., This fun Christmas village in mid-Michigan is more popular than ever, so if you’re thinking about going, get your tickets soon.

This is the Christmas event of the season: a one-hour-and-fifteen-minute train ride on the North Pole Express, a world-famous Pere Marquette 1225, a 1941 steam engine operating by the Michigan Steam Railroading Institute.

Board the train at the welcome center at the Railroading Institute in Owosso and head to the Village of Ashley Country Christmas, where passengers will disembark for a two-hour Christmas party, complete with hot cocoa and other treats.

Once the train stops, passengers can see pretty Christmas trees and participate in the numerous activities the village has to offer. This includes live entertainment, having a picture taken in front of the 1225, and meeting Santa Claus himself.

village of ashley country christmas

Village of Ashley Country Christmas

Please note that this is by far the longest Michigan Christmas train, at four-and-a-half hours round trip, thanks to the stop in the Village of Ashley.

This may not be the option for you if your children get easily restless on long trips, however, the ambiance is quite unlike any other holiday train. Seating accomodations range from coach up to the Pere Maquette Parlor’s swanky seating.

Located in Owosso, MI, just a short ride from metro Detroit or west Michigan, t’s a truly memorable experience: the train is decked out in Christmas decorations, and when the train reaches the Village of Ashley, the fun truly starts.

Again, be sure and book your tickets online asap: this is a very popular Michigan holiday attraction and North Pole Express tickets sell out quickly. Please note that the $5 admission to the Village of Ashley Country Christmas is included in the ticket price. Yout ticket for the North Pole Express includes a souvenir ticket and a “believe” bell, too. Find ticket info here.

Michigan's polar express
Photo from Coopersville & Marne Railway Company.

Santa Train at Coopersville & Marne Railway
306 Main St, Coopersville, MI 49404

This is one train trip you’ll want to make a holiday tradition. For the authentic north pole express experience, head to Coopersville and board the train from the steam era for one of the most popular Christmas train rides in MI. Coopersville is located just northwest of Grand Rapids.

Enjoy a 90-minute round-trip on a vintage 1950s era train, where kids can sit with Santa and get a present or sit with the storytelling princess to listen to her read the Polar Express to passenger as they relax in the comfy train cars.

Board this Santa Train every Saturday on November through December for some Ho Ho Ho fun with Santa.

The train is fully decked out in Christmas decorations for anyone from ages nine to 90 to marvel at this holiday season. This is a fully heated train so don’t worry about bundling up for the ride, a bathroom is also open to any guests.

Christmas in Michigan

Little River Railroad’s Christmas/Holiday Express
Little River Railroad, 29 W. Park Ave. Coldwater, MI 49036

Looking to experience a real country Christmas? Take a scenic ride through Coldwater in southern Michigan on the Holiday Express.

Help keep steam-powered trains up and running by grabbing tickets to Little River’s Railroad Christmas/Holiday Express, which is running only four days this year: on December 3, 4, 10, and 11, 2022.

Tickets are in high demand, so make sure to purchase your tickets before they sell out. Kids can visit with Santa himself on the train, which runs about an hour round-trip.

Don’t miss out on all of the other kid-friendly special events this railroad runs, including Easter Train where kids can hang out with the Easter Bunny, and the Fall Pumpkin Train.

Holiday Magic at Crossroads Village & Huckleberry Railroad
6140 N Bray Rd, Flint, MI 48505

Open November 25th to November 28th and December on 3-5, 10-12, 17-19, 21-23, 26, and 28-30, this is one of the easier Holiday Trains to get on as there is more availability. Enjoy not only the locomotive ride but the Village as well as Crossroads is decorated each year in a plethora of Christmas Lights. The beautiful holiday lights display is sure to put you in the Christmas spirit.

If you happen to be in the village on select dates, perhaps try out the Christmas Dinner Buffet to warm those bellies with ham or chicken before braving the cold blustery Winter. If you are going on the train, be sure to bring your mask as well as your good cheer.

Train rides aren’t the only fun holiday event going on at the Crossroads Village Holiday Magic event: they have a spectacular Christmas light show, too.

You can purchase your tickets for Christmas at Crossroads Train Ride here.

michigan christmas train

Southern Michigan Railroad Santa Express
Tecumseh, Michigan

You’ll hear those sleigh bells jinging as soon as you step aboard the train for a 45-minute ride up to Santa’s workshop. The kids will have a chance to tell Santa just how good they’ve been this year and what they have on their holiday 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! This fun holiday train ride is sure to warm even the Grinch’s heart.

You can find ticket info and event details here.

Northern Star Train Midland

Head to Midland during the holiday season for a free 10-15 minute train ride around the city and see a Christmas lights display or two around this pretty mid-Michigan city.

The Northern Star train departs from the Midland County Courthouse (also known Santa’s House) at the corner of M-20 and Main Street and return to the same spot, where you can visit with the holly jolly man himself!

You can find dates and times here.

christmas towns in michigan

Peacock Road Family Farm
11854 Peacock Road, Laingsburg MI 48848

Take a train ride on the Peacock Express to see Santa and Mrs. Claus at their cabin in the woods. The train leaves the station every half hour. You will travel pass the Peacock Far, herd of reindeer, go over the river and through the woods to reach Santa’s cabin. Watch carefully, Santa will be waiting for you as you come around the bend.

Fine out more about this fun family train ride and Christmas at Peacock Road Family Farm here.

12 Top Michigan Train Rides

Michigan Polar Express Frequently Asked Questions

Is There a Polar Express in Michigan?

Yes, the Pere Marquette 1225 Steam Train, operated by the Michigan Steam Railroading Institute, was the inspiration for children’s author Chris Van Allsburg.

Want More Train Rides in Michigan?

We have a fabulous guide to 12 Top Train Rides in Michigan that you can take almost any time of the year! Discover the Toonerville Trolley at Soo Junction in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, and many more!

More Michigan Holiday Fun

Michigan reindeer farms
Greenfield Village Holiday Nights
ultimate guide to the magic of lights
Ultimate Michigan gifts guide

About The Author- Charlotte Dennison is a Content Creator at My Michigan Beach. She grew up in Vermont and has summertime family ties to the great state of Michigan in both Ann Arbor and Lake Hamlin. In addition to content creation, she spends her time studying writing, editing, and publishing at Emmanuel College in Boston. Writing has been her dream since the start of high school, and she hopes to turn content creating into a life-long career. Charlotte is jazzed to be interning at Outside of writing Charlotte enjoys curling up with a Stephen King novel and her cat on rainy city days.

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Kathy Van Der Meulen

Tuesday 6th of September 2022

I’m interested in information and tickets for the Polar Express train in Marne /Coopersville Mi for this season 2022. Thank you. Kathy VanDerMeulen

My Michigan Beach Team

Sunday 11th of September 2022

Hi Kathy, Thanks for reaching out. You can find information about tickets for the Polat Express train here: .