Few modes of travel feel more soothing and civilizing that riding a passenger train. Add to that the views through the large windows of fall colors blanketing the nearby mountainsides, and you’ve got a memorable fall trip in New England. Railways of the northern New England states offer nostalgic train rides with glorious fall vistas. Plan a family day – people of all ages love trains – by browsing the listings below:
Down East Scenic Railroad out of Ellsworth, Maine, has a long history of taking overheated and weary city folk on mountain train excursions, dating back to the 1880s, when summer tourists were called “rusticators.” Today, the railroad offers the 10-mile excursion on Saturdays and Sundays into the middle of October. In addition of fall colors, watch for osprey, blue herons, bald eagles, moose, deer, snapping turtles, fox, beavers and bears. Departs from 245 Main Street. See website for schedule and tickets. 866-449-7245. Map.
Mount Washington Cog Railway, based in Bretton Woods, New Hampshire, takes riders on a dizzy climb up this steep mountain from April to November, but an autumn excursion is an extra thrill because of the dazzling scenery. During this three-hour trip the train travels the steepest railroad tracks in North America. On a clear day, from the top, New England spreads out like a dreamscape below. The Base Station has a museum where you can learn how this unique railroad was build, a restaurant and gift shop. See website for schedule and tickets. 800-922-8825. Map.
Cafe Lafayette Dinner Train, based in the pretty and very lively town of North Woodstock, New Hampshire, operates a dinner train where you and friends of family can jostle comfortably on the rails along the western slopes of the White Mountains while you enjoy a truly delicious meal, cooked in the onboard kitchen car and served with tasteful flourishes. Watch the Pemigewasset River move along beside you as you enjoy cocktails, fine wine, and food, It’s a two-hour, 20-mile round trip and you can even tour the antique cars and the kitchen car at the conclusion of the ride. See website for schedule and tickets. Departs from 3 Crossing at Riverplace. 603-745-3500. Map.
Conway Scenic Railroad in North Conway, New Hampshire, treats you and your family to old-fashioned train rides, all departing from a 1874 Victorian Station in North Conway Village. There are a couple of mountain and valley routes to choose from, like the Valley route to Conway or Bartlett, or the legendary Crawford Notch excursion. Fall foliage views are stunning from the windows of the restored passenger cars. Coach, first class and dining car seating are available on all routes. Round-trip excursions are from 1 to 5 and a half hours. A train excursion in the glorious White Mountains will stay in your memory forever. Departing from 38 Norcross Circle. 800-232-5251. Map.
Foliage Train Trips near New Hampshire Lakes include Hobo Railroad and the Hobo Harvest Time Express trains, departing from Lincoln and traveling along the gorgeous Kancamagus Highway. The Winnipesaukee Scenic Railroad departs from Weirs Beach and offers one- and two-hour foliage excursions along the shores of the state’s biggest lake. Hungry? Meredith Foliage Dinner Trains, departing from Meredith, serve a tasty turkey dinner while you travel along the lake. A longer trip is the four-hour foliage train from Meredith and into the White Mountains, offering several station stops. See website for detailed schedules and reservations. 603-745-2135. Map.
Green Mountain Railroad of Vermont offers excursion train trips through Vermont’s colorful mountains at foliage time. Different route and types of trips include plenty of scenery and also dining, or an overnight at a mountain resort. The Fall Foliage Excursions travel from Chester to Ludlow and from Chester to Rockingham. Travel past sweet towns and small rivers. The Green Mountain Dinner Train delivers views and a four -course meal on weekend evenings during the fall foliage season. The Dinner Train travels from Burlington to Middlebury. See railroad website for schedules. 800-707-3530.