Chicago, IL

Put on your pj's and find your Christmas spirit as you climb aboard a polar express ride in Chicagoland

Jennifer Geer

A favorite holiday tradition for many families, here's a list of the top polar express rides around Chicago

For many families, the polar express ride is a not-to-be-missed, annual Christmas tradition. However, last year was a different sort of holiday, with many favorite holiday events canceled due to the pandemic.

But this year, the polar express rides are back on. For this holiday season, the Christmas trains, trolleys, and rides have once again returned to Chicago and the suburbs.

I've compiled a list of some of the best rides to choose from in the area. So get your tickets, put your pj's on and prepare to experience a magical Christmas tradition.

Please note: Many of the park district rides went on sale months ago and have already filled up. I've only included events that still had some openings at the time of this writing. However, that is subject to changes as they fill up fast. Be sure to check for availability, and buy your seats as soon as you can.

Chicago Polar Express

Where: Union Station, 500 W. Jackson Blvd., Chicago, IL

When: December 3 to January 1

About: The Chicago Polar Express at Union Station puts on quite a show. The magical ride has immersive entertainment, caroling, and of course, cookies and hot cocoa. Book your tickets online here.

The Polar Express Train Ride - Fox River Trolley Museum

Where: Jon Duerr Forest Preserve, 35W003 Route 31, South Elgin, IL

When: November 27 & 28, December 4, 5, 11, 12, 18, and 19

About: Take a train ride to the "North Pole" at the Fox River Trolley Museum, where Santa will be waiting to greet you.

Buy tickets online here.

Oswego Holiday Express

Where: South Point, 810 Preston Ln, Oswego, IL

When: December 9 to December 12

About: Head over to the "Santa Station" where kids can do crafts and write letters to Santa while they wait to hop aboard the trolley, which takes them directly to the "North Pole." At the North Pole, besides sitting on Santa's lap, children can eat cookies and drink hot cocoa in Mrs. Claus' tent, visit a live reindeer, and search for elves.

You can make reservations on the Oswegoland Park District's website.

Polar Express StoryTime Train in Addison

Where: Itasca Metra Station, Irving Park Rd. and Maple St., Itasca, IL

When: December 11 and December 19

About: All aboard the train to the North Pole. On the ride there, a storyteller will read the Polar Express book, while riders enjoy cookies. Once at the North Pole, Santa will hop on the train and ride back to Addison.

Book your reservations here.

Happy Holiday Railway

Where: Illinois Railway Museum, 7000 Olson Road, Union, IL

When: November 26, 27, 28, December 4, 5, 11, 12, 18, 19

About: The train leaves the station for a 40-minute ride with cookies, hot cocoa, and Santa Claus. When your ride is over, you can check out the Model Railroad exhibit or take a ride on a historic Chicago streetcar.

Purchase tickets here.

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Jennifer covers lifestyle content and local news for the Chicago area.

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