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|Jessica Lollino • 4/10/18|
The Short Version: For a date night that goes well beyond the same old dinner and a movie, check out the Adirondack Scenic Railroad. Enjoy the glamorous feel of yesteryear in Utica Central Station as you board one of the many trains headed to picturesque destinations. If you’re feeling brave, you can even embark on the Haunted History Evening Excursion to hear about spirits that may still roam the region. Or, if you’d rather party, catch the Beer and Wine Train on Fridays to blow off some steam. No matter what you’re looking for, you can find your next great date at Adirondack Scenic Railroad.
Couples are always looking for a new date night activity that doesn’t involve the cliché combination of dinner and a movie. And, if you find yourself searching for something new, a date night — or day — on the Adirondack Scenic Railroad will pique your romantic interest with its excitement and beauty.
The Adirondack Scenic Railroad is a nonprofit organization focused on the preservation and restoration of rail service between the High Peaks region, Central New York, and beyond through railroad connections in Utica. The organization partners with local businesses and communities along the rail line to give visitors a one-of-a-kind experience while driving economic development in the area. Tours also teach about the rich history of the regions.
A big part of the Adirondack Scenic Railroad’s mission is fulfilled by curating exciting train trips that give couples the chance to experience what the region has to offer with total ease and comfort. The excursions allow the organization to showcase the region and build appreciation for the work it does.
The train trips are so popular that they often sell out. And Mark PIersma, Adirondack Scenic Railroad Public Relations and Marketing Director, has a good idea why the outings resonate so much with visitors.
“I find the younger generation is looking for something more than just going to a bar, sitting down at a table, and staring at each other. This is a really cool experience that we’ve never had, and it’s something that causes a lot more interaction because it’s an unfamiliar setting,” he said. “It’s also a great icebreaker for first or second dates.”
Sometimes, the most inventive dates involve the combination of several creative ideas.The popular Beer and Wine Train offers that experience with a train ride, food and drinks, romantic scenery, and even an open-air car with entertainment.
Mark highly recommends this excursion for couples.
“Our Beer and Wine Train departs from Utica Central Station, one of the most historic stations in New York. We depart 6:30 p.m. on Friday, so once you get out of work, it’s time to unwind,” he said. “We have two coach cars and a first-class option, which offers table service with complementary heavy hors d’oeuvres. The real attraction is our open-air car which features a live band or a DJ, and we have two bars, one for wine and one for beer.”
While light snacks are served to everyone, the café car is open for guests who didn’t opt for the first-class option. The train also partners with a local brewery and local wineries to keep the libations in line with its mission.
“It’s almost exclusively couples because it’s a unique thing to do. It’s just not something you can do anywhere else,” Mark said. “It’s like going to the bar where you can get a drink and enjoy the music, but you also can just sit down together and have a more private, intimate chat in the seats.”
While the serenity of nature is nice, a little bone-chilling excitement could be perfect on your next date. Mark suggests the Haunted History Evening Excursion for first or second dates.
“The Haunted History Tour is good for daters just getting to know each other. You get on the night train in the foothills of the Adirondack Park, and travel for half an hour on the train. Then you get off, and we have bonfires and torches all lit up and greet you with s’mores,” Mark said. “We take a hike through the woods on the trail. Along the trail, you will run into actors who perform ghost stories that really happened in the region.”
Drawing from the book “Haunted Old Forge,” the performers tell real tales of murder and crime that left their grisly footprints on the area. These tales add an eeriness to the hike that will give couples a reason to hold hands or snuggle up a bit closer. But don’t worry — it’s not a jump-out-and-scare-you kind of tour.
“It’s nice because there is plenty of time just to mosey around and talk to each other broken up with theatrical performances, so you don’t have to hold the conversation the whole time — which could be awkward,” Mark said.
And guests are encouraged to dress comfortably for the hike, so it takes a little of that pressure off, as well. Everything is pre-planned, casual, and a nice balance of alone time and group time. It’s the ideal way to get past first or second date jitters.
With a wide range of activities for a variety of interests, it’s not surprising that many couples consider the Adirondack Scenic Railroad an extraordinary date experience.
“Last year we saw a lot of the same couples coming on, they said it’s affordable, it’s different, and we have great entertainment. It’s become their monthly date destination,” Mark said.
People come back because they believe in what Adirondack Scenic Railroad is doing for the surrounding communities and businesses — but they also love the guides.
“There’s a lot of personalities at our railroad. We are a nonprofit, and have over 350 volunteers who put more than 300,000 volunteer hours per season. Some are retired teachers, CEOs of highly successful companies, law enforcement, and people who just like people,” Mark said. “I think we are so successful because our volunteers put their heart and soul into everything they do when interacting with the passengers.”
With so many trains in service, Mark says the primary focus in the coming years is bringing a non-stop route to life. “Our goal is to run a train from Utica to Lake Placid. We are working on getting those tracks rehabbed so we can do a direct train there. Hopefully, in the next few years, we will be able to use it.”
So, if you’re ready to think outside the box for your next date, try a trip on the Adirondack Scenic Railroad with that special someone.