Best time to visit Birmingham, AL

Heart of Dixie Railroad Museum in Birmingham, AL 2023

Take a memorable ride on a historic train from Alabama's official railroad museum

Best time: March 4–December 17, 2023

Heart of Dixie Railroad Museum

If you're a fan of trains and everything related to the subject, you'll fall in love with the Heart of Dixie Railroad Museum, situated in Calera just south of Birmingham. The official railroad museum of Alabama showcases antique cars and offers exciting train rides from early March to mid-December. Versatile options include Calera & Shelby Train, North Pole Express, charters and field trips for school groups, and also exclusive alternatives, such as Stars & Stripes Special.

Calera & Shelby Train Ride

One of the most popular options to choose from is a cab ride on the Calera & Shelby line, running on the part of the former L&N Alabama Mineral Railroad, which dates back to 1891. The 75-minute journey showcases the beautiful forests of Shelby County. Note that you can indulge in such trips on Saturdays only. The departure times are 10 am and 1 pm, but boarding starts 15 minutes prior to departure.

North Pole Express

During the Christmas season, between mid-November and mid-December, you can have yourself a magical 1.5-hour adventure on the North Pole Express. Vintage locomotives and rail cars of Calera & Shelby Railroad get into the festive mood with lavish holiday lights, as well as Santa and Mrs. Claus visits. Mind that Polar Express train rides are extremely popular in Alabama and beyond. The tickets go on sale already in July and are soon sold out.

Tips for visiting

You can find more information on the tours and rides and buy tickets on the official website of the Heart of Dixie Railroad Museum. With other questions, please message the museum via its official Facebook page. Both links are listed in the External Resources below.

The Heart of Dixie Railroad Museum is located 33 miles (53 km) south of Birmingham and is easily accessible via I-65 S. If you're coming from far away, you might need to book a stay somewhere nearby. Feel free to browse the map below for the best accommodations in the area.

Practical info

When is the best time to visit the Heart of Dixie Railroad Museum?

If you plan to visit the Heart of Dixie Railroad Museum, it is best to schedule it from early March to mid-December. These months offer train rides and tours at the attraction. The North Pole Express is the museum's most exciting ride and operates during the Christmas season. The tickets go on sale in July and usually get sold out very fast. It is an amazing experience for families with kids. Show more

Where is Heart of Dixie Railroad Museum located?

The Heart of Dixie Railroad Museum can be found at Calera, Alabama, which is roughly 33 miles (53 km) south of Birmingham. It is within driving distance from Birmingham through I-65 S. For long-distance travelers, finding accommodation nearby is advisable. A few days may not be enough to explore Birmingham fully, so making plans to stay in the area is a wise choice. Show more

What are the ticket prices for train rides at the museum?

Touring the Heart of Dixie Railroad Museum is an exciting journey with a diverse range of ride options to choose from. Train rides like Calera & Shelby cost $14 per head for adults, while the North Pole Express averages $40-70 for both adults and kids. Seating class and date determine North Pole Express pricing. The museum offers special pricing for school groups and charters. More information and booking details can be found on the museum's official website. Show more

Are there other special events offered at the museum besides the North Pole Express?

There are many special rides and events held at the Heart of Dixie Railroad Museum besides the North Pole Express. The Caboose Ride is an excellent opportunity to experience an original caboose's ride. Such unique events honor the US military, as with the Stars & Stripes Special. Catching a special exhibition, workshop, or annual Railfest hosted by the museum is another way to indulge in this train lover's paradise. Schedules and other details can be accessed via the museum's website. Show more

Which train ride is the most popular among visitors, and why?

Visitors to the Heart of Dixie Railroad Museum love the North Pole Express. This ride is the most popular attraction of the museum, providing a magical Christmas experience. The ride offers an imposing sight with decorated holiday lights, visits from Santa and Mrs. Claus, and many exciting activities for families with kids. Although tickets sell out quickly when they are made available in July, the Calera & Shelby Train is a favorite among train enthusiasts as well. It offers scenic views of the Alabama forests and historic scenic areas. Show more

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Authors: Olha Savych