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All Things Trains

All aboard for some train lovers' hot spots! If you're a fan of locomotives, Connecticut is filled with great finds from train museums to train restaurants to model trains. Here are some of the state's train-tastic picks to put a train lover on the right tracks.

Railroad Museum of New England/Naugatuck Railroad Company

Views of the Naugatuck River Valley are part of the package when you ride out from the Railroad Museum of New England/Naugatuck Railroad Company in Thomaston. The ride begins at the 1881 Thomaston depot, rolls past industrial sites, goes through the forest and then runs across the face of Thomaston Dam, the only train in America that crosses a dam in such a fashion. Many locomotives, railroad cars, and work equipment are on display as well. While you’re there, be on the lookout for the famous Turbo the Cat: the feline proprietor of the museum. Turbo has become so well-known that he even has a Facebook following!

Danbury Railway Museum

The Danbury Railway Museum operates out of a fully restored 1903 station. You’ll be able to inspect the rolling stock on display, including locomotives, passenger equipment, freight equipment, self-propelled cars and even maintenance equipment. The train rides through the rail yard include a spin on a real operating turntable!

SoNo Switch Tower Museum

Explore the historic 1890s New Haven Railroad switch tower at the SoNo Switch Tower Museum in Norwalk. Learn about switch towers and how they were used by railroads to prevent train crashes and control the direction of train tracks. The museum also features the only “Armstrong” switch lever machine in Connecticut!

The Essex Steam Train & Riverboat

The thrill of travel under steam power is part of the excitement at the Essex Steam Train & Riverboat in Essex. Here, the excursions run through the Connecticut River Valley, where the broad rover and surrounding hills are gorgeous in any season. The Steam Train offers many special events, but perhaps most special of all is the opportunity to take a ride on a riverboat as part of your journey! You’ll board the train at the 1892 Essex Station, meander through the countryside to Deep River Landing, board the Becky Thatcher, take an hour-long cruise on the river, then return to the train for the ride home. Nothing like it.

Lavender Pond Farm Train

Ride a purple train through a lavender farm at Lavender Pond Farm in Killingworth! The LPF Express will take you through the lavender fields and include an entertaining presentation about the plants and most interesting features of the farm.

Lake Compounce’s C.P. Huntington Train

At America’s oldest amusement park, Lake Compounce in Bristol, hop about the C.P. Huntington Train and take a ride around the park. Take in views of the lake, the thrilling attractions, and transport from one end of the park to another – all while enjoying a leisurely train experience!

Essex Clipper Dinner Train

All aboard for the dazzling four course meal served on the Essex Clipper Dinner Train. Sit back and relax on a two-and-a-half hour journey through scenic Connecticut towns, forests, and serene meadows while being pulled by a vintage diesel locomotive – and eating delicious dishes of course.

Trackside Brick Oven Pizzeria

If you’ve never dined in a former subway car, you can in Connecticut! Trackside Brick Oven Pizzeria in Wallingford is set in an authentic Philadelphia subway car from the 1920s. Hence its name, this spot is literally track side, tucked right beside railroad tracks. Currently operating trains thunder past the restaurant for a truly train-tastic experience as guests indulge in New Haven-style pizza and fine Italian cuisine.

The Station Restaurant

Eat dinner is a restored train station at The Station Restaurant in Naugatuck! Constructed in 1910 in grand Spanish Colonial Revival-style, this iconic building closed in the 1960s. Today, it’s been transformed into an ornate restaurant that accentuates the features of the original building – and serves up tantalizing seafood, chicken, steak, pasta and gluten-free favorites.

Paci Restaurant

Indulge in decadent Italian cuisine at Paci in Southport, which is set in the historic train depot in Southport. Paci was once a train station and today still sits next to active train tracks. Enjoy both your meal and the locomotive-related setting!

Pizza Works

Pizza Works in Old Saybrook is set in a building designed to look like a train station. Watch as a model train whizzes around the room’s perimeter and after you’ve finished your pizza, get a closer look at the model train display on the second floor of the restaurant. Behind glass you’ll see an entire model town including houses, shops, rail yards, office buildings, and a mountain!

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