Virtually every group tour involves a motorcoach, and motorcoaches are convenient and outfitted for sightseeing and comfort. But you should consider getting off the coach and exploring other means of getting your passengers around. The Midwest offers many great options on the water and rails.

BY RAIL

The Branson Scenic Railway in Branson, Mo. offers a 40-mile trip through the Ozarks from its base at the historic downtown depot. The exact route changes depending on the commercial traffic on the tracks, but either route offers views and territory otherwise inaccessible to visitors. Highlights include tunnels, trestles and extinct communities that disappeared early in the 20th century. Trips are offered daily from March through November, except on Sundays. All excursions are sightseeing only, except for the dinner trains on Saturdays from April through October. (bransontrain.com)

The Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railway outside of Cleveland, Ohio runs through Cuyahoga National Park and along the Cuyahoga River. In the park walk along the Ohio & Erie Canal Towpath Trail and see the canal lock and Canal Visitor Center, a canal-era structure offering a look into the past. The train also goes to Akron, where coaches are available to visit the Akron Art Museum, Akron Zoo or Hale Farm and Village. The southern terminus of the railway is Canton, where you can visit the William McKinley Presidential Library and Museum, the Pro Football Hall of Fame or the Canton Museum of Art. Trains operate Wednesday through Sunday June through October and weekends only from November through May. (cvsr.com)

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