Here’s a train ride with a difference. The Essex Steam Train & Riverboat offers at least a couple of ways of getting up and down the Connecticut River. There’s the train, which you can take from the Essex station, up the river and back again. There’s also a Dinner Train that serves a meal in your fully restored Pullman car. And then there’s the train and boat ride – up the river by train, back down on board the riverboat Becky Thatcher. There are special events, too.
Find out why the Lower Connecticut River Valley is one of the state’s most popular destinations – with a train ride, river views and much more.
Once back in town, head for your overnight accommodation at the historic Griswold Inn, one of the oldest (1776) continuously operated inns in the nation. The Gris is a lively place, full of history and good cheer, with a restaurant, taproom and wine bar.
You are within easy range of excellent musical theatre, so why not take advantage of it? The Goodspeed Opera House (seasonal) is a premier showcase for musicals, sending 19 shows from its perch high above the Connecticut River in East Haddam all the way to Broadway.
The next morning, stroll to the Connecticut River Museum’s dock for a good look at the big river and, if you’re lucky, some of its wildlife. Inside the museum, you’ll find exhibits highlighting the river’s historic legacy. But probably best of all is a river cruise on the museum’s Schooner Mary E, which leaves for afternoon or sunset cruises at regular intervals. The Mary E is a 75-foot gaff rigged schooner built in 1906 in Bath, Maine.
Another way to see the river is in the very capable and knowledgeable hands of Captain Mark and the crew at Connecticut River Expeditions. Aboard RiverQuest, you’ll travel through the magnificent lower river valley, with many views of wildlife (ospreys, eagles) and gorgeous sunsets. In late summer come the one-of-a-kind Tree Swallow Cruises, where some 250,000 swallows perform a spectacular aerial ballet at dusk before diving down into the reeds for the night.