Trains, Riverboats and Castles - Summer Vacation 101, Part III

Monday, July 6, 2015
Where can you go where you can ride a train and a boat and visit a castle all in same the day, all within 14 miles, even all combined into one experience?  Sound impossible?  Might be in most parts, but not if you're in Connecticut.
Continuing on my Summer Vacation 101 series today I take you on another day trip, this time to Essex, CT.  Just under three hours from the Capital District, south of Hartford, you'll find the Essex Steam Train and Riverboat Company.
You might remember my blog about this last year, but if you're a new reader, let me tell you a little about it.  "Essex Steam Train & Riverboat’s 2½-hour journey begins at the historic 1892 Essex Station for a 12-mile, narrated round-trip into the heart of the unspoiled Connecticut River Valley. The steam locomotive pulls vintage coaches at 20 mph through the quintessential New England towns of Deep River and Chester. Essex Steam Train offers unique access to several coves and preserves, immersing passengers in an on-board eco-excursion. The train travels near the tidal wetlands of Pratt Cove and Chester Creek – – bountiful, natural habitats for birds. Among those typically spotted are Cormorants, Ducks, Swans, Greenland Geese, Blue Heron, Egrets, and Red-winged Blackbirds. In February and March, the majestic Bald Eagle is the star of the show, when it migrates south to the Connecticut River Valley from Canada and Maine. At Deep River Landing, passengers are escorted onto the Becky Thatcher riverboat for a 1¼- hour cruise along the Connecticut River. The visual serenity of the river valley is on full display from Becky’s multiple decks. The deep water, coves, inlets, marshes, wildlife, and rocky shoreline are all at once, simply breathtaking! Just as impressive are the historic sights including Gillette Castle, Goodspeed Opera House, and the Haddam Swing Bridge. Upon Becky’s return to Deep River Landing, the steam train welcomes passengers for the return trip back to Essex Station." (Taken from the official website)

 Just as the website says, the ride along the Connecticut River is just breathtaking. 
 As we approach Deep River Landing, we see the Becky Thatcher returning to the dock.
 We disembark the train and hop aboard for the 'boat' portion of our trip.
Gillette Castle - as seen from the Becky Thatcher Riverboat cruise!
 One glance at Gillette Castle is enough to convince you a visit is a MUST!  There is an option for being dropped off at the Chester/Haddam Ferry from the Becky Thatcher.  This will involve a ferry ride to Gillette State Park and a hike up to the castle.  I will tell you the website gives this advisory: "This hiking adventure is recommended for those in good health, with average hiking skills, and appropriate footwear/clothing. It is not suitable for families with small children or strollers due to the hiking terrain."   A better option, and the one I recommend, is driving back to East Haddam upon your return to Essex.  Once your river cruise is complete, you will board the train and return to Essex Station.  Before heading to Gillette Castle, I'd recommend lunch at Marley's.  It's a delightful seasonal restaurant accessible by water taxi.  You can read more about it in my Essex blog:

After lunch, head out of Essex just a short way up the road to East Haddam.  There you'll find the most exquisite of castles built from 1914-1919 by actor and playwright, William Gillette who became famous by his portrayals of Sherlock Holmes.  Unique on the outside and completely unexpected on the inside, this is the most surprising interior you'd ever imagine.  Admission is only $6.00 for adults & Seniors!

 Here's a little sneak peak at the interior!
This day trip is filled with something for everyone.  And again - an easy getaway for just a day!  Essex is a well kept secret but a jewel of a seaside town.  Be sure to find more photos and lots more information on Essex, the Essex Steam Train, the Becky Thatcher Riverboat and Gillette Castle in my earlier blogs - links provided below!

Thanks for reading.  Come back soon to Life As I See It!

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