Tips For The Essex Steam Train North Pole Express | Stamford Moms

All aboard the Essex Steam Train & Riverboat North Pole Express for the 2023 holiday season!

Tickets are completely sold out! But, if you managed to score tickets to the exciting holiday event, we have a few tips & tricks for you, including some great restaurants to eat at nearby before or after your 90 minute ride!


Be sure to put your kids in their favorite holiday PJ’s! It really adds to the Night Before Christmas feeling, especially on nighttime train ride and makes for great photos… plus if they fall asleep on the way home you don’t have to worry about changing them! So, it’s definitely a win-win!

Give Yourself Enough Time To Get There!

Let’s face it… there’s always traffic. Be sure it doesn’t get in the way of your plans by giving yourself more than enough time to get to the station! Plus, if you’re going on a nighttime train ride, a little extra time will allow for a great opportunity to check out the holiday lights on the way! If you are going during the day, you’ll have time to look around at the decorations at the train station before your ride. It’s recommended that you arrive at least 30 minutes before your train’s departure.

Nearby Restaurants

Downtown Essex is adorable a very short drive from the train. It’s a great place to walk around and even has a little grassy park where the kids can run around and get energy out if they need to!

The Griswold Inn has a great restaurant for lunch, dinner and Sunday breakfast! Only about a 5 minute ride from Essex Station.

The Black Seal Restaurant is a personal favorite for lunch and dinner… and the staff is really friendly! We have loved everything we ate on our visits! Only about a 5 minute ride from Essex Station.

Olive Oyl’s is a great lunch option located in the heart of Essex village. (Closes at 5 p.m.) Only about a 5 minute ride from Essex Station.

Scotch Plains Tavern offers indoor and outdoor patio dining by the fire pits and heaters.

Rusty Rail Tavern has a kids menu that includes a make your own s’mores kit to use at the railside s’more’s fire pits! There is also a free hot chocolate bar! Reservations are recommended.

Pizza Works has train displays and fun for kids. Reservations are highly recommended!

Surfridge Brewing Company East is a family friendly place to grab food.

Deep River Roasters is a great place to stop for coffee before or after your ride.

Other Holiday Events in the Area

If you’re looking for more holiday magic either before or after your journey to the North Pole, there are a few great ones in and around Essex!

30th Annual Holiday Train Show at CT River Museum, Essex
Tuesday, November 21 – Sunday, November 18

Trees in the Rigging at CT River Museum, Essex
Sunday, November 26, 10 a.m. – 6 p.m.

Holiday Light Spectacular at Olde Mistick Village, Mystic
Saturday, November 18 – end of January

Home for the Holidays at Mystic Aquarium
Friday, November 24 – Saturday, December 30, 6 p.m. – 9 p.m. (select evenings)

Lantern Light Tours at Mystic Seaport Museum
December 8, 9, 15, 16, 21, 22 & 23 5 p.m. – 8 p.m.

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