Traveling by train in the United States is a lovely way to see parts of the voluminous country. From city to countryside, trains allow for a unique travel perspective, with assuredly a bit of extra magic. New York is a beautiful state, home to the Adirondack and Catskill Mountains, the Finger Lakes Region, and beautiful forests that touch along the Canadian border. These top scenic train rides in New York get one off the normal tourist route that beelines to New York City and instead offers a gentler, more rural look at the state. Read below to learn about these great opportunities to discover New York state by way of rail!
1. Delaware & Ulster Railroad
Hop aboard a classic streamliner train and take in the picturesque Catskill Mountains of New York. Check out the haunts of legendary Rip Van Winkle, who is said to have slept 40 years in these hills. Delaware & Ulster run a 24-mile journey that takes about two hours to complete, trekking alongside rural streams and the gorgeous mountains. The train runs on Saturdays and Sundays, leaving at 11 am and 2 pm from the Arkville Station. Tickets for an adult run at 18 USD. If you are able to visit during the fall, autumn colors await. Additional fun can be had with signature events such as Twilight on the Rails, a weekend of live music on the train in July, as well as a great train robbery.
Delaware & Ulster Railroad
Website: Delaware & Ulster Railroad
2. Adirondack Scenic Railroad
The Adirondack Scenic Railroad’s mission is to preserve scenic rail in New York, and they are working hard to continue to run the train despite current proposals to turn the tracks into trails. The train currently runs between Utica to Lake Placid with stops in between (pricing is based on how what stations one travels between). The train also highlights fun seasonal activities such as a Polar Express train ride with cookies and hot cocoa, or the ever-in-season beer and wine train for the adults. For those who are coming from far away to experience New York’s charm, the trip between Utica and Big Moose is the longest and most scenic train ride; a round-trip, full-day experience that stops at Big Moose in the afternoon. This trip runs at 47.50 USD for an adult ticket.
Adirondack Scenic Railroad
Website: Adirondack Scenic Railroad
3. Catskill Mountain Railroad
The Catskill Mountain Railroad runs through the historic and stunning Hudson Valley, 100 miles north of New York City. Like most historic, scenic trains in New York, The Catskill Mountain Railroad runs in the late spring and summer months into early fall. The Catskill Mountain Railroad has tons of opportunities to ride the rails in different ways, from the Peace Train that offers entertainment focused on community connections and world peace, to the Rails of Terror during the Halloween season. The Catskill Mountain Railroad leaves from Kingston, NY, a town that is known both for being small, yet hip.
Catskill Mountain Railroad
Website: Catskill Mountain Railroad
Amtrak is the only operating train company in the United States that travels long distances. So, it is generally taken for more than just a tour, but to get from point A to point B. If you’re starting in New York City, Amtrak is a great option to get out of the city easily and to head to greener pastures. The Adirondack Route offered by Amtrak runs between New York, Albany, and Montreal, a true adventure! Prices vary depending on distance, as do the travel times. Please note, Amtrak must heed for freight, causing frequent delays.
5. Cooperstown and Charlotte Valley Railroad
Cooperstown, NY, set in central New York abutting beautiful Otsego Lake, is a slice of the state worth exploring. Taking a scenic tour on Cooperstown and Charlotte Valley Railroad, a line dating back to the 1800s, is a wonderful way to get a lay of the land. The Cooperstown and Charlotte Valley Railroad offers exciting events such as the Blues Train, running every Saturday night from May to October, with three hours of blues for 20 USD per adult. Child-friendly rides like the Easter Bunny Express and Dinosaur Train make riding the rails extra special.
Cooperstown and Charlotte Valley Railroad
6. Arcade & Attica Railroad Corporation
Arcade & Attica Railroad Corporation runs from May to October, with special seasonal trains in December. Originally built in the 1880s, Arcade & Attica is a testament to the history and spirit of the region. If you choose to travel the full, round-trip excursion, plan about two-and-a-half hours from Arcade to Curriers Station. Special events like an upcoming maple weekend excursion celebrate maple syrup production, complete with pancakes!
Arcade & Attica Railroad Corporation
Website: Arcade & Attica Railroad Corporation
7. Medina Railroad Museum
Why not get some of the backstories when it comes to trains in New York and head to the Medina Railroad Museum? With a museum complete with a miniature train layout, depot history, and the chance to ride two different trains, there is so much to do at Medina Railroad Museum. Adults will love the chance to hop aboard the Vineyard Express, which covers New York’s wine country. Children will go crazy over Medina’s real Thomas the Train to ride, complete with a chance to meet Thomas and Friends, including a meet-and-greet with Sir Topham Hatt. There is something for everyone to love at the Medina Railroad Museum!
Medina Railroad Museum
Website: Medina Railroad Museum
8. Yonkers Station
Yonkers Station, about 21 miles (33.7 km) outside of New York City, is a historic depot built in 1911. Done in the Beaux Arts style, Yonkers Station connects commuters to NYC, as well as to Upstate New York. A part of the Amtrak train system, Yonkers Station to downtown New York City’s Penn Station costs about 17 USD for an economy ticket, one way. Do note mornings and evenings can be busy with work commuters going to and returning from the city.
Website: Yonkers Station
9. Grand Central Terminal
Even if you have nowhere to go, head to Grand Central Terminal just to take in some old fashioned people-watching as well as the stunning architecture. A hallmark of NYC, Grand Central Terminal buzzes with history and life. Not just for travelers, Grand Central Terminal has 60 shops, 35 places to eat, and on-going events that make it worth the trip to Manhattan. The famous clock set in Grand Central Terminal is romance-worthy as an unofficial meeting place for friends and loved ones. Upcoming events include “Spring in Washington D.C.” and a market tasting event of Grand Central restaurants.
Grand Central Terminal
Website: Grand Central Terminal
See New York the scenic way
New York is a diverse state that has so much to offer. Choosing to take a short half-day trip, or a longer journey Upstate or to other parts of the country, is a wonderful way to take in New York’s beauty. Trains offer a great adventure that can be accessed by all. With this list of scenic rides throughout the state, you are sure to find your next ride on the rails. All aboard!
Get Trip101 in your inbox
You can buy and claim online, even after you've left home. Travel insurance from WorldNomads.com is available to people from 140 countries. It’s designed for adventurous travellers with cover for overseas medical, evacuation, baggage and a range of adventure sports and activities.
*5% off when you book with our promo code: TRIP101
*For our Canadian and US travellers, unfortunately due to financial services laws, we cannot provide a discount. This promotional code cannot be used with any other discount offer, including World Nomads Members’ discount for travel insurance policy holders.