Best Scenic Train Rides In New Hampshire

In this post, I’m going to be providing you with a list of the best scenic train rides in New Hampshire. While there are numerous options, there’s really 5 stand out and here they are:

  1. Mount Washington Cog Railway
  2. Conway Scenic Railroad
  3. Hobo Railroad
  4. Cafe Lafayette Dinner Train
  5. Winnipesaukee Scenic Railroad

In the following parts of this article, I’ll be giving you detailed info on each railroad to help you decide which one is best for you to explore. In truth each one is worth checking out, but based on when you’re able to go and for how long, one or more of these scenic train rides may be ideal to prioritize first.

best scenic train rides in new hampshire

Mount Washington Cog Railway:

The Mount Washington Cog Railway, established in 1869, is a marvel of 19th-century innovation, offering an unparalleled journey to the summit of New England’s highest peak. On this trip, passengers ascend Mount Washington itself and throughout the trip are treated to panoramic views that stretch to four states, Canada, and the Atlantic Ocean on clear days.

The trip itself is 3 hours long, but it’s also a very slow incline up to the top of the mountain (the ride is 3 miles long). Overall though this is an excellent scenic train ride in New Hampshire worth taking especially in the fall!

Conway Scenic Railroad:

Although this is #2 on the list, I would say that it’s likely the most popular in not just New Hampshire but it’s also one of the best scenic train rides in North America. The Conway Scenic Railroad provides a nostalgic ride through New Hampshire’s stunning landscapes, including the majestic Crawford Notch State Park area. Its historic trains, some dating back to the early 1900s, traverse routes filled with natural beauty, offering a glimpse into the region’s past.

The trip along the Conway scenic railroad takes about 5 hours to complete, food and refreshments are served and you will pass through some of the most beautiful spots throughout the White Mountains. My advice is to go during early October but book a month ahead of time because this is the most popular scenic train ride there. I also say that the Conway scenic railroad is easily one of the top fall train rides in New England.

Hobo Railroad:

Set along the tranquil banks of the Pemigewasset River, the Hobo Railroad’s leisurely rides are a family favorite. The journey is a celebration of New Hampshire’s lush countryside, with educational commentary that enriches the experience. While this trip is not as long or scenic as the Conway Scenic Railroad or Cog Railway before it, it’s still a very family friendly trip worth checking out and I’d also do it in October if you can.

Cafe Lafayette Dinner Train:

The Cafe Lafayette Dinner Train takes guests on a culinary journey through the White Mountains. The meticulously restored vintage railcars and exquisite meals make for an unforgettable experience.

This was the first scenic train ride I ever took back in 2023 during the early spring months. Personally for me the sights were OK. The train ride was slow but good and the food was good as well.

The reason I am including it on this list is because of the romantic aspect of it. When I went here, it was with a girlfriend and we really enjoyed it. On top of that the train bridge you cross as you start on it is worth taking pictures of and the whole area near the station is also stunning. Price wise, it is one of the most expensive scenic train rides in New Hampshire, but if you’re looking for a good 2-3 hour romantic trip, this one’s great for that!

Winnipesaukee Scenic Railroad:

The Winnipesaukee Scenic railroad skirts around the picturesque Lake Winnipesaukee, offering views of crystal-clear waters, rustic cabins, and verdant shores. It’s a peaceful way to experience the beauty of New Hampshire’s Lakes Region, especially during the vibrant autumn months.

The ride itself is 1-2 hours long and the scenic journey here showcases the beauty of New Hampshire’s largest lake, its islands, and the surrounding mountains, providing a serene way to explore the Lakes Region.

Altogether these 5 scenic train rides in New Hampshire provide different, yet amazing experiences as a whole, from different view points and sights.

Which one should you start with?

The 2 top choices on this list are easily the Cog Railway and Conway scenic railroad. If you are stuck between which one is better to choose, then I’d say start with the Conway scenic railroad and if possible do the Cog Railway the next day (go on a weekend or multiday trip to the White Mountains for this). Book your tickets for these 2 specific train rides 1-2 months out (especially if you’re planning to visit during the fall).

Now in terms of romantic experiences, the Cafe Lafayette Dinner train is pretty good and I’d recommend that solely for the couple’s experience.

The Winnipesaukee Scenic Railroad would be the next choice from the list if you like more flat land rides and are looking to see lakes in the area. The Hobo Railroad is also good but I’d keep that choice at the bottom of my list here because the other choices are just so good!

When to go:

For seasons, fall is your best choice and that starts in the first 2 weeks of October. Book your tickets as soon as you can, and I mean in early August if possible. Should you happen to not find any slots open, ask if you can get on a cancellation list (it worked for me when I went on the dinner train).

Besides fall, the next best seasons would be spring and winter, and finally followed by summer which will be packed then. Go on a weekday if you can. Try to skip these train rides if you plan on going during a holiday because you’re unlikely to get tickets and have a “quiet” experience.


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