If you love historic trains and want to plan something special for Valentine’s Day, Hudson River Rail Excursions has what you’re looking for: A trip aboard the Valentine’s Special.
“This journey is all-inclusive, with wine and food served in a tasting menu format. You will savor a series of small plates and wine pairings as you savor the one-of-a-kind panorama of the passing Hudson River,” says the excursion company, which is operated by the United Railroad Historical Society of New Jersey (URHS). “This is the perfect opportunity to share a unique experience with the one you adore.”
What makes the Valentine’s Special even more, well, special, is that passengers will receive first-class service in two historic rail cars: the Hickory Creek, which was one of the cars on the famous 20th Century Limited train, and the Tavern-Lounge No. 43.
The Valentine’s Special, running from Penn Station’s Moynihan Train Hall in New York City to Amtrak’s Albany-Rensselaer station and back again, will operate between February 10 and 14. Tickets will go on sale on the Hudson River Rail Excursions website at 10 a.m. EST on Friday, January 20.
“Demand for these trips has been overwhelming,” Kevin Phalon, URHS executive director, told TravelAwaits. “Although we try to accommodate as many guests as we can, we expect the tickets to sell out almost immediately.”
The 20th Century Limited was christened into service in 1948 by General Dwight D. Eisenhower, says Hudson River Rail Excursions. The luxury train, which was billed as the “Most Famous Train in the World,” traveled the 958-mile Water Level Route between New York City and Chicago for 65 years.
One of its cars was the Hickory Creek, an observation/sleeper/lounge car. It was eventually acquired by URHS in 1991, and it has since been restored to its historic appearance. The car is Amtrak-certified and is available for private charter.
Interestingly, the car features the signature “Lookout Lounge,” which has oversized picture windows that offer spectacular views of the Hudson River. It also has four bedrooms, four bathrooms, a fully-functional kitchen, and seating for up to 25.
Tickets on the Hickory Creek for the Valentine’s Special are $399 per person, sold in groups of two.
Tavern-Lounge No. 43
Meanwhile, the car known as Tavern-Lounge No. 43 was built in 1947 by the Budd Company and was one of 13 tavern-lounge cars used on the New York Central for passenger runs. The car was retired in 1987 and donated to URHS in 1991 by NJ Transit.
Tavern-Lounge No. 43 has also been restored to its historic appearance. It too is Amtrak-certified and available for private charter through URHS.
Today, Tavern-Lounge No. 43, which features “comfortable lounge chairs and cozy booth seating,” is used the way it was in the 1940s, when “travel was a social activity,” Hudson River Rail Excursions explains. “Passengers can relax, drink, and socialize with their fellow travelers” while enjoying scenic views of the Hudson River.
Tickets on Tavern-Lounge No. 43 for the Valentine’s Special are $299 per person, sold in groups of two.
A Special Valentine’s Day Trip
Hudson River Rail Excursions’ Valentine’s Special, which is an all-inclusive trip, begins at Amtrak’s Moynihan Train Hall. Passengers also have special access to the Metropolitan Lounge, including its complimentary breakfast, before departure.
On the way to Amtrak’s Albany-Rensselaer station, passengers will enjoy a special meal prepared by chef Laura Stantz.
“A tasting menu is a grand adventure for your tastebuds. As smaller plates are passed with an expertly paired glass of wine, you’ll be able to taste, touch, and experience different foods as we glide along the Hudson River,” Hudson River Rail Excursions explains. “Each course will bring a new experience to your gastronomy starting with a cheese course and ending with a sensual dessert for two.”
The train will then return to New York’s Penn Station. Along the way, passengers will be served another three courses with wine pairings — as they watch the sunset along the Hudson River.
Know So You Can Go
Tickets for the Valentine’s Special will go on sale at 10 a.m. EST on Friday, January 20, on the Hudson River Rail Excursions site. They will only be offered online.
“We suggest being online right at 10 a.m. to be at the front of the line!” Hudson River Rail Excursions explains.
If you can’t make the Valentine’s Special, Hudson River Rail Excursions has also released its schedule for 2023 excursions. Tickets aboard the Tavern-Lounge No. 43 or the Hickory Creek for those trips, which run from February to November, go on sale February 17.
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