Essex Steam Train And Riverboat: How to Plan Your Trip Here

The Essex Steam Train and Riverboat is one of the most amazing and scenic attractions to explore if you’re in Connecticut and in this post I want to show you exactly why that is the case, plus everything else that you’ll need to know for planning a trip there.

Basic info:

  • Name: Essex Steam Train And Riverboat
  • Location: Essex, Connecticut
  • Ticket prices: $25-$75 depending on the season/event
  • Duration: 2-3 hours (boat and train ride combined)
  • Reviews: 4.6 out of 5 stars

Things to know:

The Essex Steam Train is both a scenic train ride and a riverboat cruise that winds through the scenic Connecticut River Valley. Passengers first take the train ride, then finish up the trip on the riverboat for a combined 3 hour trip.

The Essex Steam Train is one part of the Valley Railroad Company, which has been active since 1868. This historic line connects travelers with the past, transporting you through towns and vistas that have changed little over the centuries.

Ticket info:

  • Adults can expect to pay in the range of $30 to $40
  • Children’s tickets can often run from $20 to $25
  • Special event/themed rides tickets can reach as high as $75 per person

If you’re planning to bring little ones under two with you, the great news is they typically ride free! Also, keep an eye out for deals that combine the train and riverboat experience for more savings on top of the fact that you will get the full benefits of this attraction.

Now what are the best ways to book your tickets? The #1 way is through the Essex Steam Train’s website. It’s user-friendly and you’ll immediately receive confirmation of your booking. But, this isn’t just about convenience; booking ahead of time, especially during peak seasons like fall, is highly recommended because these trips can sell out fast.


Priority boarding is a perk sometimes offered with certain ticket packages. This could be a game changer during busy times. So, when you’re browsing ticket options, think about whether this added benefit is something that resonates with you.

In my opinion, it pays to plan ahead. By securing your tickets early, you’re all set to soak in the sights without a hitch. And that’s just what we’re going to talk about next!

What you’ll see:

Essex Steam Train And Riverboat

Your journey starts on the vintage train as it whisks you through the charming towns and woodlands. As this happens, keep your eyes peeled for glimpses of local wildlife and fleeting photo opportunities as you travel toward Deep River Landing. On the way, you’re going to find out about the life along the river, the local ecology, and might even spot an eagle or two. The sights on the train are pretty nice overall.

But once you’re done with the train ride, remember it’s not over yet because you will still have the (optional) boat ride to add to your adventures and I strongly recommend you do that! So here’s what you need to know about the boat ride that follows:

Boarding the Riverboat is a seamless transition from the train. As you cruise down the Connecticut River, you’ll be treated to views of Gillette Castle State Park, the Goodspeed Opera House, and the serene beauty of the untouched Selden Neck State Park. It’s not just a cruise; it’s an intimate exploration of Connecticut’s natural splendor.

If you partake in any of the themed rides/special events like the Eagle Flyer and Santa Special, these your voyage will be pretty much the same but with the added benefits of the themed event itself to make it even more exciting.

If you’re intrigued by the idea of a night ride, ‘Dinner on the Train’ is an experience that combines the romance of rail travel with fine dining, as you traverse the nocturnal landscapes of the Connecticut River Valley. This is also the ride which will typically be the most expensive.

Choosing when to go:

The Essex Steam Train & Riverboat operates throughout the year, but it’s the fall season that really sticks out. Imagine the train chugging along pathways lined with trees dressed in the fiery colors of autumn. It’s an unforgettable sight and why I believe this to be one of the best fall train rides in New England to check out.

Early mornings or late afternoons are golden for photographers, thanks to the softer lighting. But it’s not just about the light; these times also tend to be quieter, allowing for a more relaxed experience. For families, midday trips might be more convenient, and luckily, the sights along the Connecticut River are impressive at any hour.

Stay updated on the Essex Steam Train & Riverboat calendar as they host festive events and themed rides regularly. From haunting Halloween excursions to magical holiday-themed journeys, there’s always a good time to plan your visit. Choosing something that resonates with you will enrich the experience and this variety is also what makes this one of the best scenic train rides in Connecticut.

I really hope that you’ll consider the pointers I’ve shared as you plan your Essex Steam Train adventure. Trust me, it’s the details like timing and seasonal events can easily transform a simple outing into a memory that you’ll never forget!


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