Things to Do in Connecticut: Essex Steam Railroad and Dinner Train


My wife and I decided a few weeks ago to take a ride up to the Valley Railroad and ride the dinner train.

It’s a long ride from Stamford to Essex, but easy enough to get there and find. Arrive early if you can, they won’t hold the train. There’s lots to do and see at the station. Of course there’s a gift shop, but lots of vintage equipment to see.


We arrived early so as to witness the arrival of the earlier steam train, full of loud, screaming kids lol. But they were cute, waving as they passed.

There is nothing like the sound of a Steam Train! I get very excited by it! I was disappointed that our dinner train was not lead by it, but I understand. It has to be serviced and turned, and such engines are terribly expensive to care for.

On to the dinner portion! One car was booked for a wedding, something I plan to do for ex- #3 lol. Sorry, the engineer’s too busy to officiate I’m afraid. Boarding was 15 minutes before departure, so be on time. Once aboard and seated, service began with a cocktail, in my case a Moscow Mule. Hey, I used to be an interrogator!

The train had to reverse off a siding to get to the main line, and then we were underway. I ordered the Prime Rib, and Debb ordered the same. First, you are served a Caesar Salad, and then the main course. I like my steak to bleed; Debb’s a little more cautious. Both were delicious. The Prime Rib is very similar to what Amtrak serves in its diners.

The train follows the Connecticut River. As with the Naugatuck, it’s some of the most scenic views in the country. Unfortunately, the Valley only goes as far as Portland. I was disappointed we didn’t go the entire leg, while we stopped to turn at a scenic area, we couldn’t deboard and walk around.

We instead sat there for about an hour; our car unfortunately suffered an AC failure and a breeze would have been welcome.

The staff was responsive and polite. The ride costs about $80/pp and is definitely worth it.