Grand Fall Tour: Empire State Autumn By Rail
See the best of the Empire State’s fall colors on this 10-day seasonal rail tour. Highlights include 6 incredible train rides, 2 cruises and private coach travel through the autumn colors.
Everyone has heard of the beauty of fall in New England. Fewer people know of the grandeur and autumn colors of upstate New York. Our Grand Fall Tour takes us to all these areas, combining six train rides, two cruises and travel on our private motorcoach through the fall color.
Highlights and Inclusions
- 9 Nights Hotel Accommodations
- 21 Meals included
- All Rail Travel
- All Boat Fares
- All Motorcoach Travel
- Adirondack Scenic Railroad and Delaware & Ulster
- Luggage Handling
- Professional Tour Manager
Day 1 - Independent arrivals into Boston
Tour participants can arrive into Boston MA today by air or rail. A pre-tour night is included at the fine Park Plaza Hotel, located just off the lovely Common in the heart of downtown.
Day 2 - Free day in Boston
Mr. Fowler will lead an optional informal walking/transit tour of the historic area of Boston this morning. The balance of the day is free to explore the museums and historic sites at your own pace.
Day 3 - Maine Eastern RR; Farnsworth Art Museum in Rockland
We ride the Amtrak DOWNEASTER through pretty villages and along the coast to Brunswick ME, where we change trains to the Maine Eastern RR for a particularly scenic ride along the “rock-bound coast” northeast to the fishing port of Rockland. A light lunch can be purchased on the train. Here we visit the Farnsworth Art Museum, with a renowned collection of works by the Wyeth family (N.C., Andrew and Jamie). The day finishes with a drive to Portland ME. We enjoy a two-night stay in the heart of downtown at the full-service Holiday Inn by the Bay. Our “Welcome Dinner” tonight offers an opportunity to feast on fresh Maine lobster (or an alternative for those who prefer it). (D)
Day 4 - Boothbay Harbor; two-foot narrow gauge railways; L.L. Bean
Today we focus on the heritage of the unique two-foot gauge railways of Maine. We begin with a visit to Boothbay Railway Village, which recreates a back-woods Maine community circa 1900. The centerpiece here is a ride on their two-foot steam-powered narrow gauge railway and free time to explore the village. We enjoy lunch in the classic beauty of Boothbay Harbor, then visit the most significant restoration of a Maine narrow gauge line: the Wiscasset, Waterville and Farmington Ry. The WW&F ran 43 miles from the coast at Wiscasset inland essentially to nowhere, as it ran out of money before reaching any of its other named destinations. Yet it survived from 1894 until 1933, serving the remote villages. The line has been re-laid over the original grade from the tiny way-stop at Alna north for about five miles, which we ride this afternoon. Returning to Portland, we make a stop at the flagship L.L. Bean store in Freeport ME for shopping, snacks or just walking through the village. (B, L)
Day 5 - Seashore Trolley Museum
We drive to Kennebunkport this morning to visit the largest electric trolley (streetcar) museum in the US, the Seashore Trolley Museum. We have a 3-mile round trip on a restored portion of the Atlantic Shoreline interurban before an included lunch. We then drive into the magnificent White Mountains of New Hampshire. Our destination is the village of Meredith on the northwest shore of New England's largest lake, Lake Winnipesaukee. We stay four nights at the Inn at Mill Falls. The hotel is a contemporary New England country inn with traditional décor, beautiful gardens, on-site shopping and a waterfall that cascades through the hotel! There are four unique restaurants associated with the hotel offering choices including Italian fare, seafood, sandwiches and steaks. More restaurants are in the lovely village center adjacent to the hotel. (B, L)
Day 6 - Lake Winnipesaukee cruise
Today we re-create the Boston and Maine Railroad's once-famous circuit of Lake Winnipesaukee by rail, lake-steamer and coach. This morning we board the century-old “M/V Mount Washington” for a circuit voyage on the waters of Lake Winnipesaukee round-trip from Weirs Beach. We then motor back to Meredith for free time in the afternoon. The fine stores of the Mill Falls Marketplace are located at our hotel, and there are level paths to walk along the lake. This evening we ride the Winnipesaukee Railroad along the shore from Meredith south through Weirs Beach to Laconia, while enjoying a delicious turkey dinner, carved to order at each table! (B, D)
Day 7 - Crawford Notch Railroad; Mount Washington Cog Railway
We drive to the village of North Conway and board the Conway Scenic Railroad's Crawford Notch train. This may be the most spectacular preservation railway line in the Northeast as it ascends past rushing rivers and up very steep grades through Crawford Notch. Enroute, the views of the Notch and Mount Washington from the Frankenstein Trestle (its real name) are wonderful! We have an included picnic luncheon at our seats enroute. At Crawford Notch Station, we re-board our coach and drive to the Base Station to ride the Mount Washington Cog Railway. We ascend to the 6,288 foot summit, the crest of New England, while traveling from deep forests to open alpine tundra. On a clear day, the summit vista encompasses four states and the Canadian province of Quebec! We return to Meredith in early evening. (B, L)
Day 8 - Canterbury Shaker Village
We begin by visiting Canterbury Shaker Village, learning about Shaker history and religious beliefs, and visiting various original buildings. The Shakers believed in a communal (but abstinent) way of life and are famous for their inventions and beautiful simple furniture. Lunch, featuring Shaker recipes, is included. Next we make the scenic drive to Franconia Notch. Photo stops allow us to view the site of the “Old Man of the Mountain” rock face and Echo Lake. Our final activity this evening is a real treat: an elegant dinner on the Café Lafayette Dinner Train. Our ride follows the former Boston and Maine Lincoln branch along the tumbling waters of the Pemigewasset River. (B, L, D)
Day 9 - Gaudens National Historic Site
We begin the day with a scenic drive to the art colony at Cornish NH to visit the St. Gaudens National Historic Site. This was the home and studio of the great 19th century sculptor Augustus St. Gaudens. Highlighted in the gardens are copies by the artist of some of his most famous works, including the haunting memorial to Clover Adams and the heroic statue of Adm. Farragut. We cross into Vermont and enjoy lunch at the Fullerton Inn, in the Victorian village of Chester, then visit the “stone village” of Chester Depot. We then have free time to shop at the renowned Vermont Country Store in Rockingham, which sells old time products and yummy foodstuffs. Our ultimate destination is Burlington VT, where we enjoy a three night stay at the luxurious Sheraton Burlington Hotel. Burlington is the largest city in the state, with a population of only 39,000! (B, L)
Day 10 - Shelburne Farms; Shelburne Museum From Burlington
Here we tour the estate of the Webb family, Shelburne Farms, and taste the award-winning cheese still produced here. The lakefront gardens here are especially lovely.This afternoon, we explore the extraordinary Shelburne Museum, which superficially appears to be a re-created New England village but actually is far more. Electra Havermeyer Webb assembled a great collection of “Americana” for display at the Shelburne Museum. A horseshoe barn contains a hand-carved circus parade. Another barn houses stagecoaches and carriages. A country inn reveals a collection of ship figureheads and cigar store Indians. Other buildings contain old master paintings, Adirondack guide boats, railway equipment and wooden toys. The former Shelburne depot of the Rutland RR seems to await the departure of a steam train, pulled by the last steam locomotive of the Central Vermont RY. Perhaps the most remarkable treasure is the huge, fully-furnished walking-beam steamboat “S.S. Ticonderoga”, which was dragged overland two miles from Lake Champlain to the museum in the 1950s. We can explore the “Ti” from pilothouse to engine room. Later we drive out onto the Lake Champlain Islands for a wonderful included dinner at the North Hero House country inn. (B, D)
Day 11 - Birds of Vermont Museum; Trapp Family Lodge; Cold Hollow Cider Mill
We enjoy unique experiences on a day devoted to the birds and foods of Vermont. We make a tasting stop at Cold Hollow Cider Mill, which makes wonderful apple cider and apple products. We learn how they make cider and can sample it, along with other food products. Fresh apple cider doughnuts are for sale here, as well as a broad selection of foods and crafts of Vermont and New England. In the deep woods a few miles south of Richmond, we visit the Birds of Vermont Museum, a true “hidden treasure”. Here the remarkable Bob Spear has carved all the birds native to Vermont and displayed them in natural habitat dioramas. Lunch today is at the famous Trapp Family Lodge, overlooking spectacular mountain scenery toward Stowe. We have time to visit the Austrian gift shop or take a scenic walk before returning down the mountain to Burlington. (B, L)
Day 12 - Mark Twain House; Farewell Dinner
We board Amtrak's VERMONTER for a run to Northampton MA on the scenic former Central Vermont and Boston and Maine RR lines. Service has just resumed on the former B&M rails in Massachusetts for the first time since 1984. This route includes a crossing of the Green Mountains at Roxbury Summit, the gorges of the Winooski and White Rivers, and a beautiful ride along the upper Connecticut River. We pass three covered bridges at Northfield VT and the longest original covered bridge in the United States at Windsor VT. A light lunch can be purchased from the café car on the train. We reboard our coach at Northampton and drive south through the unexpected tobacco fields of the Pioneer Valley to Hartford, Connecticut, where we tour the home and unique museum of the great humorist Mark Twain. Our final overnight this evening is at the Publick House Inn at Sturbridge MA where our Farewell Dinner is enjoyed in the restored 18th century main building.
Day 13 -Tour Old Sturbridge Village, drive to Boston
This morning we explore “living history” at Old Sturbridge Village. This unique attraction re-creates a New England village as if it was frozen in time in the prosperous era before the Civil War. Homes, industries and shops were brought in from other locations throughout New England to produce a place that is a Colonial Williamsburg of old New England. A light lunch can be purchased here before we drive back to Boston, with drop-offs at Logan Airport around 3:00 P.M. in time for same-day flights to most cities and at the Amtrak South Station at about 4:00 P.M. The tour ends here. We can arrange post-tour hotels here by individual reservations as well. (B)
Tour Prices include all hotels; tour manager services; admissions; meals noted as included above; rail, coach and boat transportation; and luggage handling. Not included are connecting travel to Boston, arrival transfers, other meals, alcoholic beverages, and items of a personal nature.
Click here to view testimonials for Grand Fall Tour: Empire State Autumn By Rail.
Our tour guide, Carl Fowler, was fantastic----like a historian!
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