Trains & Train Rides
New England's historic trains take you into spectacular scenery — through the mountains and along the seashore. Some offer murder mystery excursions; others feature special trips for Mother's Day and during the fall foliage season. Or, get into the holiday spirit on board a Santa Special! See also: New England Travel by Train
Unique in the World
In New Hampshire, the 150-year-old Mount Washington Cog Railway is the world's oldest mountain-climbing railroad. Expect fantastic views as the engine huffs and puffs up a 3-mile-long trestle on North America's steepest railroad tracks to Mount Washington's 6,288-foot summit — the tallest mountain in the northeastern U.S.
In Connecticut, the 2½-hour journey aboard the Essex Steam Train & Riverboat combines a train ride with a boat trip on the Connecticut River, starting and finishing at the historic 1892 Essex Station.
Wine & Dine
Dining on an antique train is like something out of an Agatha Christie novel. One of only 20 fine dining dinner trains in North America, the Cafe Lafayette Dinner Train offers a 5-course meal as well as great scenery in the White Mountains region of New Hampshire. In Rhode Island, the Newport Dinner Train recreates the Golden Age of Rail on a 22-mile, 2.5-hour journey along scenic Narragansett Bay. In Massachusetts, the Cape Cod Central Railroad offers lunches, brunches and elegant dress-up dinners on a run from Hyannis to the village of Buzzards Bay, through Sandwich, the oldest town on the Cape, and crossing the Cape Cod Canal railroad bridge. On “Thirsty Thursdays” in the fall, the Vermont Microbrew Express offers a chance to sample five excellent local beers (Vermont ranks first in the United States for craft breweries per capita). In Connecticut, head to the Essex Steam Train for a romantic four-course meal served on the Essex Clipper, a beautifully restored 1920s Pullman diner, as you journey through the breathtaking and pristine Connecticut River Valley. And during the Christmas season in Connecticut, taste local wines on the Naugatuck Railroad aboard the Haight-Brown Vintage Express.
In New Hampshire, trains such as the Conway Scenic Railroad are popular year round — but outstanding in the fall. With young children, take the 11-mile, 55-minute round trip from the 150-year-old station in North Conway Village to Conway. Otherwise, opt for the 1¾-hour round trip to Bartlett. Or, make a day of it aboard the Notch Train, to see spectacular bluffs, steep ravines, cascading streams and mountain vistas. Equally pretty are runs with the Hobo Railroad along the Pemigewasett River, and on the Winnipesaukee Scenic Railroad around Lake Winnipesaukee, one of the largest lakes in the U.S.A. Part of the Vermont Rail System is the Green Mountain Railroad with its White River Flyer. From White River Junction, Vt., the route follows the Connecticut River with views of the White Mountain foothills.
In the Edaville USA family amusement park near Carver, Massachusetts, take a two-mile ride on the Edaville Railroad, a narrow-gauge train with cars that are only six feet wide. As well as Christmas and other seasonal events, expect visits from Thomas the Tank Engine!
For Real Train Enthusiasts
- In Maine, check out the Maine Narrow Gauge Railroad Company & Museum in Portland; the Boothbay Railway Village; and the Sandy River & Rangeley Lakes Railroad, a two-foot gauge railroad that dates back to 1879. In Kennebunk, visit the Seashore Trolley Museum, the largest and oldest museum of mass transit.
- In western Massachusetts, drop by the Berkshire Scenic Railway Museum in Lenox.
- In Connecticut, head for the Railroad Museum of New England, based at the 1881 Victorian railway station at Thomaston, just north of Waterbury.