Chug-a-Lug: Seven of the Best Boozy Train Rides in America


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Chug-a-Lug: Seven of the Best Boozy Train Rides in America

Illustration By Danielle Grinberg

“Drinking on a train is, in every respect, the perfect antidote to our overworked minds,” Bharat Vohra, who blogs about train travels at bratislav.blog, recently told VinePair. “It’s a time to reflect; a time to appreciate the little things, and sometimes, just to savor the very joy of doing nothing at all.”

Whether you call it mindfulness or Slow Travel, train trips are making a comeback, with luxurious rail trails from the Adirondacks to the Rocky Mountains beckoning us to hop onto hassle-free journeys with a glass in hand. With that in mind, we’ve rounded up seven of the best boozy train rides in America where you can relax, unwind, and enjoy a region’s wines, beers, and breathtaking views, no checked baggage necessary.

Napa Valley Wine Train

The Napa Valley Wine Train tops the list of booze-fueled trains for obvious reasons. Operating on a railroad built in 1864 by San Francisco tycoon Samuel Brannan, this ride takes you through one of the world’s most beautiful wine regions, spanning 789 square miles and combining some of the best wines and best views the country has to offer. Watch a video of the experience here.

The Napa Valley Wine Train has a variety of options, each featuring different wineries. There’s even a family-friendly holiday tour, the Santa Train, which takes a journey to the “North Pole.” Tickets vary depending on your excursion. The Gourmet Express Lunch starts at $149.00.

Hop Train

From the famed Napa Valley Wine Train comes the Hop Train, a new offering that promotes the region’s impressive beer heritage. The ride debuted in June with a trio of frothy offerings from Napa Palisades Beer, and the two-hour tour includes beer tastings and bites to eat. Tickets start at $75 per person.

Durango Brew Train in Colorado

You have exactly two chances to ride this luxurious locomotive into the Colorado wilderness. Local craft brewers host guided tastings of their beers on board, and each journey concludes with a party in a forest. This 1920s-era train once hauled gold and silver ore from the San Juan Mountains. Today, its cargo is no less precious. The five-hour-long historic tour pairs beautiful southwestern Colorado mountain views through Cascade Canyon and Animas Valley, accompanied by half-hour tastings with BREW, Steamworks, Ska, Carver, Animas, and Durango Brewing. There’s also beer trivia. Your chances to hop aboard are in September. Tickets start at $109.

Great Smoky Mountains Railroad: Uncorked

This wine train through North Carolina’s Smoky Mountains promises good wine and good company. Your journey begins with a full-service, adults-only ride in the steam engine’s first-class cars, complete with private attendant and dining seating. A guide accompanies the ride and presents each of the four pours with a little bit of history. Fares include cheese tastings, a surf-and-turf meal, and a seasonal dessert, and the GSMR souvenir stemless wine glass is yours to keep. Tickets start at $120 per person.

Cuyahoga Valley Ales on Rails

Located in northeast Ohio, the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad (CVSR) is a tourist railway and nonprofit organization that runs through the 33,000-acre Cuyahoga Valley National Park.

The Ales on Rails tour comprises two hours, five to six beer tastings, and chef-prepared hors d’oeuvres. There are four options for a trip with Ales on Rails: Goose Island Beer, featuring five beer samples, five appetizers, and a souvenir glass; Breckenridge Brewery, which also features five samples, apps, and a glass; BrewDog USA, a Scotland-based brewery that recently opened its first U.S. location in Columbus, Ohio, which features six beer samples, light appetizers, and a souvenir glass; and, finally, Europhiles will enjoy the Germany v. Belgium option, which also features six samples, light appetizers, and a souvenir glass. For wine lovers, CVSR also offers Grape Escape Wine Tasting Excursions, with options spanning Italian wines to autumn reds. Each wine tasting features five different wines and hors d’oeuvres.

Tickets start at $50 for the Goose Island and Breckenridge tours; $65 for the BrewDog and Germany v. Belgium tours; and $60 for the Italian Wines tour.

Adirondack Scenic Railroad Beer and Wine Train

Pairing lush scenery with a drinker’s delights, the Adirondack Scenic Railroad’s beer and wine train departs Utica’s Union Station in upstate New York and heads north through the mountains to Remsen. The nearly three-hour jaunt includes hot appetizers, snacks, and table service for first-class passengers, along with wine by the bottle or glass available for purchase. The other catch: You can’t take the wine with you, so you have to finish it on board. We trust that won’t be a problem.

First-class tickets start at $45, and coach tickets $25.

My Old Kentucky Bourbon Excursions

Liquor lovers meet their match on My Old Kentucky Dinner Train, a tourism train established in 1988. The two-hour Bourbon Excursions sail through the Central Kentucky countryside, offering a four-course meal, master distiller-hosted bourbon tasting, and a rocks glass you get to keep. Tickets start at $110 per person.

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Train travel is making a comeback, and booze is helping to fuel it. Here are seven of the best boozy train rides in America.

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