Thanksgiving, and then Christmas, is just around the corner! The Polar Express is already accepting reservations and they might book up very soon.
There is nothing like the wonder of Christmas and Santa Claus to your little ones. The joy they experience (and give us) during this season is immeasurable. Here are a few of the holiday train rides available near Las Vegas. Whether you plan a quick trip, or make a weekend out of the experience, these train rides will bring a little extra holiday wonder to your Christmas season.
The Polar Express Train Ride -The Grand Canyon Railway and Hotel Located in Williams, AZ, which is about a 3 hour drive from Las Vegas. No, this is not local, but it’s the nearest Polar Express experience to Las Vegas. You and your family can experience the wonder of this magical train ride, as you fill up on cookies and hot chocolate on your way to Santa’s Village. Watch the joy on the children’s faces when the train arrives at the North Pole, where Santa Claus and his reindeer are waiting! Santa will board The Polar Express and hand each child their own special gift.
You need to book early for weekend dates, many of the dates for 2020 are already sold out, and most of the weekends for 2021 are also starting to book up. There are open dates on weekends still in November and Fridays and Sundays are booking up. Since it’s quite a drive, you can also book packages and stay at the hotel there. The package includes:
- Overnight stay at the Grand Canyon Railway Hotel in Williams
- Polar Express train travel from Williams to the North Pole for each guest
- Dinner and breakfast per guest at the Railway’s Grand Depot Cafe located adjacent to the hotel
Keep in mind that adding the overnight stay can cost as much as $350 on a weekend, but includes dinner and breakfast for everyone as well. (I priced out a room and 2 adults plus 2 children train tickets on a Saturday in November and it was $577. Just the train ride was $227 for the family of four on that same date.) This might be a little bit pricey for my free and cheap peeps, but I know people that have done it and say it’s worth every penny and the drive. Kids absolutely love it, and the reviews and comments are amazing.
There is a 5:30 and a 7:30 departure daily, and the train ride lasts a little over an hour. Ticket prices start at $33 for children 2 -15 and $47 for adults(16+) Sunday-Thursday. There are no train rides on Tuesdays. Weekends (Friday and Saturday rides) are priced higher, at $47 for children and $59 for adults. For more information, schedule, open dates or to book reservations, click the link above. Check out their Facebook page to keep up on any new information as well.
They also offer a Polar Express Charity Train. If you represent a non-profit organization that serves disadvantaged or disabled children in Arizona, please click here to request an application for up to 25 complimentary tickets to The Polar Express, departing at 7:30pm on Friday, November 6, 2020.
*Update-We have been there, done that! It was an amazing trip to Williams for the Polar Express. My kids loved it and they also loved all the snow they had there. It was beautiful! A few tips for those that have booked or may be planning to book:
Arizona is it’s own little time warp, and while we did know about the time difference, it totally slipped both my and my husband’s mind to leave an extra hour to get there during the drive. So, we ended up arriving a full hour later than we wanted and with the craziness there, we cut it really close. So, leave early!
Check the weather and bring what you need. It was 18 degrees the night we rode the train, but we dressed for it and it was fine. Besides, check-in and parking being chaos, we had a nice little time with the kiddos and would go back!
For a little bit closer experience, check out these nearby holiday train rides:
Nevada Southern Railway– Come experience the magic of riding the train at night on our Boulder City Santa Express! During the 45-minute excursion to Railroad Pass and back, our story reader shares a story of Santa. Then, return through the Station Platform and into Santa’s Rail Yard. Join your friends and family with cookies, cocoa, and photo ops. (This is in lieu of the Pajama Train we ran for past years since we can’t serve food or have Santa on the train).
The train departs at 5pm, 6pm, 7:30pm and 8:30pm, beginning Thanksgiving weekend through December 23rd. Trains run on these dates: Nov. 27 & 28, Dec. 4&5, 11&12, 18&19, 2020. Tickets are $35 per seat, First Class (VIP) tickets are $50 per child (under 10) or $55 per adult. Seats required for all passengers over 1 year old. Masks required while on property/train. COVID-SAFE procedures in place – social distancing & cleaning. Buy your tickets today, this event will sell out!
Springs Preserve Holiday Express– Has not yet posted dates for their 2020 Holiday Express.
The train departs 14 times per day on magical journey to Santa’s Village. You must make a reservation at the website. Spaces are limited for each departure time. They strongly encourage you to purchase your tickets in advance to guarantee admittance. Tickets usually run from $10-12, children 2 and under are free. Santa will be there but photos will not be provided, so have your phone or camera ready.
The 2019 dates for the Springs Preserve Holiday Express are December 6-8, 13-15 & 20-23. Times for the train ride will be Fridays 2pm-6pm, and 11am-6pm all other event dates. Admission for the Holiday Express is $10 for Springs Preserve members and $12 for non-members. Kids 2 and under are free.
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