As an alternative to motorcoach travel, consider an excursion on the water or aboard a train. Here are just a few ideas in addition to those mentioned in “Midwest Rail and Cruise Options,” an article in the June issue of Leisure Group Travel:


French Lick Scenic Railway

The French Lick Scenic Railway in French Lick, Ind. travels 20 miles through the Hoosier National Forest and the Burton Tunnel. The trains operate weekends from April through December and seasonally on weekdays. Special departures are available for groups of 40 or more. There are Wild West train robbery reenactments on certain trips and the Indiana Railway Museum here offers free admission. (

The Wisconsin Great Northern Railroad in Spooner offers a number of excursions to Springbrook and Veazie Springs down a century-old route through the Wisconsin countryside. Dinner trains are offered Fridays and Saturdays and Sunday brunch from May through December. Weekday departures are available from June through August. An interesting trip is the early evening Family Pizza train, with hot pizza delivered from popular Spooner gathering place Tony’s Riverside. Groups of up to 10 can enjoy the Bed and Breakfast train. After an early boarding to settle into one’s cabin, guests enjoy dinner with the other dinner train guests. After the others have disembarked, overnight guests have private use of the lounge for drinks or to watch a video with a porter available all night. In the morning breakfast is served. (


A quite different type of cruise is offered by LaSalle Canal Boat in LaSalle, Ill., not far south of Chicagoland. A full-size replica of a 19th century canal boat takes visitors on a one-hour trip along a portion of the I & M Canal, a national landmark. The 96-mile-long canal opened in 1848 and provided a link between Lake Michigan and the Illinois River, thereby connecting the Great Lakes with the Mississippi River and Gulf of Mexico. This link made it possible for Midwestern farmers to easily get their crops to market and for the north to get sugar and tobacco from the South. The opening made Chicago a great transportation hub, long before the boats were replaced by the railroads. The boat is pulled by mules that walk along an adjacent tow path. Guides dressed in period costume lead this ride, which is minutes from Starved Rock State Park. Trips are offered May through October on Tuesday through Saturday. The nearby Lock 16 Visitor Center is housed in a vintage building that once was home to a horse-drawn buggy maker.  (