These Historic Rail Journeys From New York City Revive the Golden Age of Travel

Aerial view of the Hudson River Rail
Steve Barry / Hudson River Rail

Tickets for the 20th Century Limited train journeys will go on sale March 15.

Train lovers everywhere wait all year for Hudson River Rail's annual excursions that allow passengers to relive the historic splendor of the 20th Century Limited express passenger train, once billed as the “most famous train in the world.” The popular rail journeys sell out every year—and last year, tickets were snapped up in minutes.

Why? Traveling up the Hudson River in two restored vintage train cars, passengers are transported back in time to the 1940s and 50s, when movie stars and presidents boarded the train via red carpet. The scenic train trips follow the original New York Central Railroad main line between Manhattan and Albany, about an eight-hour round trip.

For those looking to experience the golden age of travel themselves, the United Railroad Historical Society of New Jersey has just released the 2024 Hudson River Rail schedule with departures slated from April through July, as well as in October and November (ideal for catching views of fall foliage).

Passengers can choose from two classes of service, both of which include lunch and drinks. The luxurious observation lounge, named the Hickory Creek, was the the rearmost—and most exclusive—car on the 20th Century Limited, and is the last-remaining car from the original train. It's since been meticulously restored to its historic appearance, from the signature oversized windows to the vintage carpeting and furniture. If you can't nab one of Hickory Creek's dozen or so seats, then Tavern Lounge No. 43, a lounge car first built in 1947, offers a more affordable alternative to experience the historic route. With seats facing inward and plenty of room to meander, drink, and chat, both of the cars foster a refreshingly social atmosphere on board.

In addition to the day trips from New York City's Penn Station to Albany, this year will premier two new offerings, including overnight itineraries between Chicago and New York. During four one-way and roundtrip journeys in June and July, passengers will sleep aboard the train's historic Pullman Sleeping Cars, indulge in multi-course meals cooked on-board by a private chef, and enjoy the open bar service available throughout the trip.

For the history buffs out there, the 2024 schedule includes a new variation on the classic day trip excursion: the Hudson Valley History Tour. The excursions, slated in May, October, and November, offer a fully narrated tour of the Hudson River Valley in partnership with the National Park Service’s Trails & Rails program.

Tickets go on sale March 15 at 10 a.m., with day trip prices ranging from $179 to $399. The overnight journeys between New York and Chicago are $1,600 for a one-way trip and $3,200 for a round trip.

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