Photo of Napa Valley scenery by Brent Miller, courtesy Napa Valley Destination Council
Napa Valley Wine Train
Built during America’s love affair with trains early in the 1900s, many of the cars on the Napa Valley Wine Train are the first steel cars with electric lighting that Pullman ever made, according to Melodie Hilton, director of marketing and public relations.
Beginning and ending in Napa, the three-hour ride chugs past storied, expensive vineyards land and through small, historic towns.
“A lunch excursion can involve winery tours if you choose, and dinner offers a campy murder mystery where larger-than-life slapstick acting is just a hoot,” said Hilton.
Hilton describes the three- to five-course meals, including local wines, as classic Napa Valley.
“For a little romance, we offer a Moonlight Express during the full moon, where passengers travel aboard a 1952 Pullman dome car offering 180-degree views. It is just awe-inspiring,” she said.
The Old Road Dinner Trail
Blissfield and Charlotte, Michigan
Five-course American-fare meals are on the menu as diesel-powered trains travel on historic rails.
The Blissfield travels on a segment of original line that began operations in 1836, one of the first railroads west of the Allegheny Mountains, and the Charlotte is part of a railroad that was completed in 1870. Both travel through countryside and farmlands that are rich with history dating back to prehistoric times, and both end their journeys in their departing towns.
History surrounds passengers inside the collection of vintage dining cars, some dating from the 1930s. “The Old Road Dinner Train is the longest continuously operating dinner train in North America,” said Mark Doronski, president.
A murder mystery on the nearly three-hour trip begins with a good-humored and cooperative passenger becoming a tragic victim. From there, a wacky theatrical group gives clues as to who committed the diabolical and dastardly deed.
“Together with the audience, the group solves the crime,” said Doronski.
Noting that 75 percent of the company’s business is repeat business, Doronski added that even if a group has experienced the train in the past, there are always new reasons to return.
More dinner trains: