SAVE 10% on ANY Air Tour! Book by March 31. Applies to New Bookings Only

The Best Scenic Train Rides

The Best Scenic Train Rides in New England

Scenic train rides are more popular than ever before because you can sit back and enjoy the scenery as well as the experience and only ever a day trip away. We have put together ten of the most magnificent scenic train rides in New England. Each offers a special experience whether they run along rivers or coastline, past quaint villages or mountain vistas, these railroad adventures will take you past some of New England’s most stunning landscapes and important landmarks.

Sunset along the Cape Cod Railway.
Sunset along the Cape Cod Railway.

Cape Cod Central Railroad, Massachusetts

This two-hour train ride is a tour of some of the Cape’s most stunning natural attractions. Departing from Buzzards Bay, this narrated excursion travels across the Cape Cod Canal Railroad Bridge which offers beautiful views of the bay.  Traveling along the Cape Cod Canal, you will pass Sandwich, the oldest village on the Cape, Barnstable’s Great Salt Marsh, cranberry bogs, and dunes before returning to Buzzards Bay. Passengers will learn how the Cape Cod Canal was built, and about the coastal ecology and wildlife of the Cape. Boxed lunches can be ordered in advance. For a three-hour culinary experience, book the five-course gourmet dinner in the dining car. The dining experience, replete with romantic music, soft candlelight, and white table linens, will take you back to the days when train travel ruled supreme.

Old Colony Railroad & Newport, Rhode Island

Enjoy the salt air as you travel along the west shore of Newport in an open platform coach built in 1904 or in an 1884 parlor car with 18 individual wicker chairs that face the bay. Along the way, you will travel through the Newport Rhode Island Naval Base and past Narragansett Bay known for its scenic vistas of ships of all sizes, from sailing ships to power crafts, barges to tug boats.  This 80-minute excursion also offers beautiful views of Jamestown Island and the Quonset Point area noted for their beautiful beaches and wildlife. 

Essex Steam Train, Connecticut

The highlight of this one-hour train ride is the chance to travel in vintage coaches along the Connecticut River in an authentic steam locomotive. Chugging along the river, passengers are immersed in an eco-adventure as the train travels past Selden Neck State Park which is only accessible by boat, and by tidal wetlands where they may spot Cormorants, ducks, swans, Blue Herons, Egrets, and Greenland Geese, to name a few. In March and April, passengers are asked to keep an eye out for the majestic American Bald Eagle that hunts for fish in the Connecticut River. The train also offers a 2.5-hour ride and a four-course dinner on the Essex Clipper, a beautifully restored 1920s Pullman car that follows the Connecticut River. 

Ride the Naugy, Connecticut

The Railroad Museum of New England offers a scenic ride along the Naugatuck River in a restored Rutland 260, a wooden first-class car that dates to the 1890s, The Naugy is pulled by a meticulously maintained vintage locomotive. This scenic ride is an hour and twenty minutes long and takes you past interesting industrial and New England scenery. Specialty train rides include a tour of a chocolate factory. An added bonus is the chance to walk through the museum where the train departs. The Thomaston Station, built in 1881, displays educational exhibits on the operation and history of the Naugatuck Railroad that is a must for railroad buffs.

Green Mountain Railroad, Vermont

The Green Mountain Railroad dates to 1843 when the Rutland Railroad Line was born.  In 1961, the railroad shut down because of a lack of freight service and labor disputes. In an effort to save the Rutland Line, the Green Mountain Railroad was formed.  Today, the Green Mountain Railroad, owned by the same family since 1964, is the only company that offers a scenic train ride in the Green Mountain State! Passengers ride in refurbished rail cars that include dining, lounge, and coach cars, built between 1931 and 1937. The cars are pulled by authentic diesel locomotives. One of the best ways to discover Vermont’s meadows, lakes, and mountain scenery is to take the three-hour dinner train excursion through Champlain Valley…it is simply stunning.

Down East Scenic Railroad, Maine

The one-hour and forty-five-minute ride on the Down East Railroad is a classic way to enjoy the natural beauty of Maine. The beautifully restored train travels on a portion of the Maine Shore Line Railroad that dates to 1883. The authentically restored coaches were once used in the early 1900s in New York City. The train departs from the Washington Junction yard and will travel past wetlands and marsh, rivers, and streams. The tracks wind their way past quaint New England hamlets dotted with white clapboard houses and crowned by a Congregational Church giving riders a true glimpse of rural Maine. A highlight of this trip is watching the engine being moved from the back to the front of the train for the return journey to the station.

Narrow Gauge Railroad, Maine

Just steps from historic Portland, Maine’s narrow gauge railroad offers a forty-minute journey on the state’s historic two-foot gauge track that ran between the 1870s and the 1940s. This ride is like going back in time as you hear the clickety-clack of the wheels,  and feel the sway of the train cars as they travel on this narrow two-foot track. The first class, passenger, and open-air cars are pulled by historic steam and diesel locomotives. The train travels along Portland’s Eastern Promenade with wonderful views of Casco Bay. Docents are onboard to provide historical information.

Conway Scenic Railroad, New Hampshire

It is like stepping back to yesteryear as you depart from a sunny yellow Victorian train station that dates to 1874. Passengers have the choice of three excursions. The Mountaineer excursion is the longest at five hours long. The Mountaineer, pulled by restored locomotives consists of 1950s-era passenger cars. A highlight of this journey is riding in one of the deluxe upper-dome dining cars and having lunch as you watch the beautiful landscape glide by. This stunning excursion travels through Mount Washington Valley and over the rugged Crawford Notch. You will pass rolling mountains, beautiful lakes, sheltered coves, sunlit beaches, and historic harbors. It is one of the most leisurely ways to see the natural beauty of New Hampshire, especially during fall foliage season. 

Passengers also have the option of taking the one-hour Heritage Rail excursion that runs through New Hampshire’s rural countryside or the two-hour Sawyer River excursion where the train traverses several bridges giving passengers beautiful river views.

Winnipesaukee Scenic Railroad, New Hampshire

Located at the northern end of Lake Winnipesaukee, this train runs on a track that was once home to the famous Boston, Concord, and Montreal line that dates to 1848. The name Winnipesaukee is Native American for “Smile of the Great Spirit,” and this popular trip will probably bring a smile to your face! The company offers a one-hour and two-hour train ride along the western shore of New Hampshire’s largest lake from Meredith to Weirs Beach. Along the way enjoy unspoiled panoramic views of this magnificent lake that is dotted with beautiful summer homes and cottages.

The Lake Winnipesaukee Railroad by Hobo Railroad Co.
The Lake Winnipesaukee Railroad by Hobo Railroad Co.

The Hobo Railroad, New Hampshire

Located at the southern entrance to the White Mountains, the Hobo Railroad runs on tracks that were built between 1882 and 1883 as part of the Boston, Concord, and Montreal Railroad Line. Passengers board restored vintage coaches and travel south along the meandering banks of the Pemigewasset River. The river has beautiful cascades that make them photogenic. Back in the 1880s, these tracks were used by the logging industry. Today passengers will see wildlife, swimmers, fishermen, and kayakers enjoying the lake.

Cafe Lafayette Dinner Train, New Hampshire

If you are looking to combine the best of both worlds, unspoiled scenery, and fine dining book this two-hour dinner train for a memorable experience. Board the 1950s restored vintage rail car for a five-course dinner as you travel along the beautiful Pemi River Valley. The menu changes seasonally and is highly rated among passengers that have taken this culinary adventure. The train travels through the woods, over three trestle bridges to the town of Thornton before it heads back to North Woodstock.

Mount Washington Cog, New Hampshire

Mount Washington or as it is known locally as Agiocochook, is one of the most popular destinations in the Northeast because it is one of the highest mountains in the region. The Mount Washington Cog offers an exhilarating three-hour ride to the top of Mount Washington. The Cog is the first mountain-climbing cog railway in the world with an average grade of 25%. Every twist and turn on this railroad ride reveals a new perspective of the Presidential Range. As passengers make their way to the summit, they are told to keep their eyes peeled for moose and bear. At the summit, passengers can explore the Cog Railway Museum, grab a snack at the food court, and enjoy mountain views on the wrap-around deck.

If you are looking to unwind while enjoying the countryside of New England, which is beautiful in every season, taking a scenic train ride just might be the ticket for you!

Riding the Cog to the top of Mount Washington.
Riding the Cog to the top of Mount Washington.