Tips For The Essex Steam Train North Pole Express | FairfieldMoms

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! Thank you our sister site Stamford Moms for this fun guide!


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!

COVID Safety Protocols

Wearing a mask is required while riding the train, regardless of vaccination status. You are also asked to wear your mask while visiting any indoor areas including the Gift Shop, Restrooms and River Valley Junction and in any space where you cannot maintain a safe 6-foot social distance. All unvaccinated guests are required to wear a mask. As an added safety precaution, cocoa is not being served on the trains and cookies are delivered in bags for you to take home with you. Learn more here.

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! It’s recommended that you arrive at least 30 minutes before your train’s departure.

Nearby Restaurants

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 is giving 10% off your bill when you show your North Pole Express ticket! The kids menu includes a make your own s’mores kit to use at the railside sm’mores fire pits!

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

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