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Ultimate Guide to Polar Express Train in Galveston, Texas

Texas has a variety of holiday events for all ages including the popular Christmas train rides.

The Galveston Polar Express is a great way for families to enjoy the holiday season and get into the festive spirit.

Planning a holiday trip to ride the Polar Express in Galveston, Texas is a favorite with many Houston-area families.

Here is everything you need to know about the popular Christmas train ride on the Gulf Coast.

Also Read: Best Christmas Towns in Texas

What is the Polar Express, Galveston?

The “Polar Express” Train Ride in Galveston is a Christmas-themed train ride hosted by the Galveston Railroad Museum.

It is based on Chris Van Allsburg’s book “The Polar Express” as the movie of the same name.

The train ride follows the storyline of the book and features appearances by popular characters such as the conductor, the hobo, and dancing elves.

The magical one hour trip features hot chocolates, reading of the book, and singing Christmas carols.

At the end of the ride, the train reaches the North Pole and picks up Santa Claus.

He meets all the children, takes photos with them, listens to their holiday list, and hands each child a single silver bell – just like in the movie!

The train is beautifully decorated with wreaths, lights, and festive decor for the event.

The event is very popular and tickets for the most popular days sell out every year.

Also Read: 13 best Things to do in Galveston with kids

The train ride includes cookies and hot chocolate
The train ride includes cookies and hot chocolate

The Galveston Polar Express Experience

The evening’s weather is crisp, the skies are clear, the stars shine bright, and the train station is full of excited children!

You are in line to climb aboard the Polar Express – so just what can you expect?

The Polar Express holiday train ride is a magical and memorable experience.

It includes amazing storytelling as well as acting from the characters.

From the golden ticket at the beginning of the train ride to the silver bell from Santa Claus himself at the end, the whole experience closely parallels the book.

This Galveston holiday event invites everyone to believe in the magic of Christmas!

Galveston Polar Express ticketing options

Riders can purchase from coach, first-class or presidential car tickets.

The first class and presidential tickets are more like VIP options and include keepsake hot chocolate mugs as well as cookies.

The coach is a great way to enjoy the ride on a budget.

The Museum website will usually announce dates for the forthcoming season in summer.

Galveston Railroad museum members can book the tickets at discounted rates beginning of August while others can book them around second week of August.

You can book tickets here for the 2021 holiday season.

How to make the most of your experience

Here are some ways to make the most of your Polar Express train ride:

Start reading this classic children’s tale at least two weeks in advance at home as well as watch the movie to build up the atmosphere.

Most kids especially love the motion picture and they get fully immersed in the story!

Dress the entire family in warm and thick Christmas PJs for the ride.

Carry the Polar Express book to read along in the train.

Carry an instant camera to take photos with Santa Claus and ask him to sign it!

Buy souvenirs at the Museum Gift Shop to remember your ride.

Polar Express souvenirs
Polar Express souvenirs

Other Things to do at the Galveston Railroad Museum

Galveston Railroad Museum is one of the best train museums in America.

We definitely recommend visiting the museum when you ride the Polar Express.

Galveston railroad museum’s collection consists of a large collection of rolling stock including passenger cars, freight cars, vintage locomotives, as well as artifacts such as period rail furniture and photographs.

Galveston Polar Express vs Palestine Polar Express

The Palestine Polar Express in East Texas is the other popular Polar Express in the state.

We often hear from families who have a hard time deciding on one over the other.

Here’s how both the experiences compare:

Polar Express Narration

From the plot and narration point of view, both the Polar Express rides are fantastic.

Galveston sometimes has the better actors and advanced theatrics but the Palestine ride also does a great job of keeping the little readers engrossed in the storyline.

Dancing chefs on the train
Dancing chefs on the train

Train route

If you’re looking for a scenic train ride on a large route with fast-moving trains, then Palestine is your best bet.

The Galveston Polar Express slowly moves back and forth on a small 1/4 mile track for the most part.

It can keep younger kids happy but can be disappointing for older kids.

Also, the Palestine train ride takes place in the countryside and has amazing views if you would ride during the day.

The Galveston Polar Express has views of the parked train cars in the museum for the most part.

So, if the quality of the train ride is important to you then the Palestine Polar Express might be a better fit.

Palestine Texas Polar Express Train Ride
Palestine Texas Polar Express Train Ride

Location and things to do nearby

Palestine is located in the Piney Woods and a long drive away from most of the large Texan cities.

While the town itself is charming it does not have many nearby attractions.

Galveston on the other hand is one of the most popular beach towns in Texas.

It has a variety of holiday events including Moody Gardens Iceland.

You can combine the Galveston train ride with a visit to the beach, exploring the historic Strand District, as well as a visit to the nearby Galveston Island attractions.

The “Polar Express” Train Ride at the Galveston Railroad Museum is a wonderful experience that should not be missed by anyone who has an interest in trains, the Polar Express story, or Christmas.

Things to do in Galveston, Texas

Galveston has many other attractions for the entire family and makes a great weekend getaway, especially in the holidays.

Here are some of the things that you can see or do after your train ride:

Galveston beaches

Galveston has several miles of beaches with a variety of facilities.

The beaches such as East Beach and Stewart Beach are particularly suited for families with young children.

Strand historic district

The historic Strand District has over 150 years of history and is the oldest commercial area in Texas.

The Strand features shops, museums, and beautiful Victorian architecture.

Views of historic Pleasure Pier in Galveston from the beach
Views of Historic Pleasure Pier in Galveston from the beach

Galveston Island State Park

Galveston Island State Park is one of the most popular state parks on the Gulf Coast of Texas.

The park offers many activities including camping, fishing, kayaking, boating, and hiking.

Moody Gardens

Moody Gardens is one of the most popular attractions in Galveston.

The site features several exhibits including an Aquarium, a Rainforest Pyramid, and three different types of gardens.

Moody Gardens also has Ice Land with Christmas activities such as ice slides and Ice Sculptures.

Moody Gardens Iceland is one of the best Galveston holiday attractions
Moody Gardens Iceland is one of the best Galveston holiday attractions

Christmas events

Galveston has several great holiday attractions that are popular during the holidays including A Magical Night of Lights, Texas City Holiday Lighting Festival, Moody Gardens Festival of Lights, and Dickens on the Strand.

Don’t forget to make the most of your trip and check out our blog for more information on what to see or do during your visit to Galveston, Texas!

Other Texas Christmas Travel Guides

Christmas in Houston, Texas

San Antonio River Walk Christmas Guide

Iceland at Moody Gardens, Galveston