Hit the Rails With These Ohio Train Rides

Magazine Features, Rail Travel

From a Cincinnati dinner train to a wine tasting railroad trip, adventurers can savor historic Ohio train rides all across the Buckeye State

Ohio’s famous Wright brothers may have invented the first airplane, but passenger rail also played an important role in the region’s fascinating history. Experience a rolling rendezvous with nature and national treasures on a vintage rail excursion. The nostalgic appeal of train travel has always interested urban adventurers, but these themed tours will also inspire them. Book your tickets to ride and keep your group on track with these authentic and alluring Ohio train rides.

The 6 best historic Ohio train rides:

  • Cincinnati Dinner Train
  • Ohio’s Friendliest Train Robbery on the Hocking Valley Scenic Railway
  • Grape Escape on the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad
  • Ohio & Erie Canal Towpath Trail
  • Lebanon Mason Monroe Railroad
  • The Ohio Railway Museum

Prepare to be transported in Cincinnati as delightfully smooth a cappella sounds from the Queen City Sisters fill the air when you step on board the historic Cincinnati Dinner Train, taking you back to another era. Indulge in a three-hour culinary excursion on the New York Central #447 dining car, authentically and beautifully restored to exact specs from 1947 with comfortable seating for 48 passengers. Relax with a classic cocktail and enjoy an elegant four-course gourmet dinner while traveling 25 miles along a historic route. Take another step back and enter the Oasis Tavern lounge car for a glass of port and a few more retro favorites from the entertaining trio. Reserve one to four historic dining cars for a private event, accommodating up to 160 attendees. The host suggests encouraging guests to dress in 1940s period clothing to simulate a pampered evening on an authentic rail excursion (cincinnatidinnertrain.com).

Ohio’s Friendliest Train Robbery on the Hocking Valley Scenic Railway features a horseback heist, reenacted by costumed bandits. The train crew distributes fake money for role-playing passengers before departure. Just like Jesse James and his gang, the bad guys stop the train and collect the counterfeit cash at faux gunpoint. Don’t worry, though. Rumor has it, there is a new sheriff in town. Around seven robbery trains are scheduled to depart from the Nelsonville Depot each year for two-hour excursions (hvsry.org).

Plan your Grape Escape in Independence. Climb aboard the Grape Escape train for an enjoyable evening of wine tasting as you weave through gorgeous portions of the 33,000-acre Cuyahoga Valley National Park.

Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad Ohio train rides

Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad

Sip five vintage samples and travel through the scenic valley on a two-hour ride on the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad. Guests learn about featured wines, which are sampled in a commemorative CVSR tasting glass and paired with delicious appetizers. Various seating options are available for adults 21 and up. Custom group rates are available for 20 to 70 passengers on historic train cars (cvsr.org/grape-escape).

Travel the Ohio & Erie Canal Towpath Trail where, from 1827 to 1913, mules pulled canal boats laden with passengers and goods up and down the historic Ohio & Erie Canal. The train can be flagged down at any of the boarding stations by waving both arms over your head (one arm is just a friendly wave to the engineer) (nps.gov/cuva).

Book your spirited group on one of many themed Ohio train rides, like the Bourbon Train. The Lebanon Mason Monroe Railroad offers historic train rides departing from downtown Lebanon. Ride in vintage railroad passenger cars hauled behind a hard-working diesel locomotive. The premium tasting experience includes seating in an exclusive deluxe car, samples of local spirits and a presentation from the featured distillery. Themed adult events last 90 minutes. Boarding begins an hour early so guests may enjoy early access to the tavern car (lebanonrr.com).

The Ohio Railway Museum, founded in 1948, is one of America’s oldest railroad museums and home to the Ohio Public Service Interurban Car No. 21, listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Designed to educate through displays and demonstrations, the museum offers a glimpse of railroading’s past through exhibits, static displays of steam engines and rides on an authentic trolley car. The museum is open every Sunday, May-December (ohiorailwaymuseum.org).

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