Essex Things to Do Tips by msbrandysue

Essex Things to Do: 10 reviews and 33 photos

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Essex Steam Train - Essex
Essex Steam Train

I visited the Essex Steam Train because it's featured in the book 1000 Things to Do Before You Die: USA Edition. It's definitely worth doing, especially if you are travelling with kids. This authentic steam train ride really takes you back in time, and the steamboat ride is a great break on the Connecticut River.

First, make sure you pick which time you want to get on the train. The times are about an hour and a half apart so you don't want to spend an hour just waiting. Then, the train will load about 10-15 minutes before the scheduled time. A conductor takes your ticket and punches it and all. Very neat. I went during nice weather so I stayed with a regular seat in the open air and enjoyed it just as much as I would have in any nicer seat.

If you get the combination ticket with the steamboat then you will get off the train at the Connecticut River. If you do not have a combo ticket then you'll simply stay on the train and ride back. I got off and waited for the Steamboat, which was actually behind schedule so that was the kickback but it wasn't too bad. We toured the Connecticut River for about 45 minutes to an hour, very slowly. The young man who was the MC was very funny and we learned a lot about the area. Some people brought a sack lunch and ate on the Steamboat at the tables inside, others on the benches up top. They also sold candy, chips and sodas/water inside of the Steamboat. The only drawback was that when we were on the boat lots of people would stand to take pictures of Gillette Castle and the other beautiful sights and were kind of not aware of the ettiquette. However, not a big deal. After the boat we got back on the train and returned to the station.

Back at the station they had a fun gift shop and I picked up some fun souvenirs for my little nephews. Overall, a very fun, lighthearted activity to do here that I highly recommend...even if you're alone. :)
They also have fun specialty rides such as the Halloween Freight Train and the Polar Express during Christmas where they serve hot cocoa.
Steam Train & Riverboat Connection
Adults: $26.00 / Children (2 - 11): $17.00
Infants (Under 2): Free

Steam Train Only
Adults: $17.00 / Children (2 - 11): $9.00
Infants (Under 2): Free

Family Fare (2 Adults and up to 6 Kids)
Steam Train & Riverboat Connection: $80.00
Steam Train Only: $50.00

Special and Extras
Parlor Car: $5.00 per passenger
Open Car: $3.00 per passenger
Caboose: $5.00 per passenger
Dates of Operation

Spring Season: May 22 - June 27
Saturday - Sunday and Memorial Day (May 31)

Summer Season: June 28 - August 29
Monday - Sunday (Daily)

Fall Season: September 3 - September 26
Friday - Sunday and Labor Day (Sept 6)

Foliage Season: September 30 - October 25
Thursday - Monday
Departure Times

Steam Train & Riverboat Connection
11:00 am / 12:30 pm / 2:00 pm

Total trip approximately 2.5 hours

Steam Train Only
11:00 am / 12:30 pm / 2:00 pm / 3:30 pm

Total trip approximately 1 hour

Address: One Railroad Avenue

Directions: From I-95 take Exit 69 (Route 9 North), take Route 9 North to Exit 3 (Essex), at the end of the ramp, take a left and Essex Station is approximately 1/8 mile on the left

Other Contact: (800) 377-3987

Phone: (860) 767-0103


Review Helpfulness: 2.5 out of 5 stars

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  • Updated Sep 4, 2010
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Stroll Main Street - Essex
Stroll Main Street

There isn't a WHOLE LOT to do in Essex. So, towards the afternoon hours I decided to stroll the couple blocks of Main Street Essex. I thought there might be more shopping opportunities but didn't see many. Most of them were real estate agencies or private offices. And I was in the mood to shop too. LOL However, I found the Christmas Barn, coffee shop and a small book store, so not too bad.

However, it was kind of nice to have a spot to wander around without worrying about getting lost or going too far.

It seems to be a popular thing to do with couples and families around sunset or so. It's nice...

Address: Main Street, Essex

Review Helpfulness: 3.5 out of 5 stars

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  • Written Jul 1, 2010
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Ride on a Schooner - Essex
Ride on a Schooner

While visiting the Connecticut River Museum I found they offered schooner rides on the Mary E. twice a day. Well, it was mentioned in the book 1000 Things to See Before You Die so of course I said "Let's go!" For $26 you get an hour and half "ride" on the schooner.

Well, I didn't know much about schooners or sailing. An hour and a half I thought I'd get pretty far. However, the entire time I was on the ship I could still see the River Museum sitting right there waiting for me. Schooners are NOT fast. They have no engine whatsoever so the sails are doing the work. So, for all the non-boating people get about 500 yards out and then turn around and come back.

Now, I'm not complaining. The weather was beautiful and all the men aboard the ship were very friendly, as well as the other tourists. We all kind of got to know each other and everything was really well. I would recommend bringing a drink though, and perhaps splurging another $4 for the sunset cruise with a picnic.

The website talks about reservations but I just showed up at the Connecticut River Museum and it was fine. In fact, I paid a flat $30 for both entrance to the museum and the schooner ride. However, there have to be 6 or so people to go on the ship for it to sail and that was an issue when I was visiting (probably on a week day). Thankfully they found a few people who wanted to go so we got to enjoy the trip without a full boat. I enjoyed it, just didn't know what to expect. Now you do!

However, if the weather is not permitting there will be no cruising :( If it's hot outside bring plenty of sunscreen, hats, water, etc. because there is no shade.

Address: 67 Main Street

Directions: Go all the way down Main Street til you get to the water, right before you dive in, turn to the left. Plenty of signs :)

Phone: 860-767-8269


Review Helpfulness: 3.5 out of 5 stars

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  • Written Jul 1, 2010
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From Main Street - Essex

From Main Street

The Connecticut River Museum

The Connecticut River Museum was mentioned in the Essex tip in 1000 Things to See Before You Die: USA Edition. So, of course, I had to visit. :)

When approaching the museum you will park to the left of Main Street right in front of the River Museum. I went in the double doors and paid my admission fee. There are three floors but they aren't very big so it's kind of easy to explore without being completely confused or overwhelmed with maritime things I had no clue about. The highlights of the museum would definitely have to be the working reconstruction of the Turtle, the first submarine ever used where only one man was inside back in 1776. The second would be the local history. The third would be the fun game they have for children (and children at heart) to pretend you're a person living in the past. It's sort of a scavenger hunt of sorts but with a little bit of education thrown in. This makes this fun museum very child appropriate. Last but not least, they have a small but very nice gift shop. I was able to find an ornament which I always look for. They also had lots of toys and books for sale. Overall, I appreciated the Connecticut River Museum because I learned a lot about the local economy and maritime amusement/business but it wasn't overwhelming, nor did it wear me out. You have to love that in a museum! You could easily visit this place in an hour or two then continue to further explore Essex.

Museum Admission
Members - FREE
Adults - $8.00
Seniors - $7.00
Children(6-12) - $5.00

The Connecticut River Museum is open to visitors Tuesday through Sunday from 10 am - 5 pm.
They are open on Mondays from Memorial Day through Labor Day.

**The River Museum also offers summer camps for kids that focus on colonial activities and history as well as river pasttimes and activities. Might be fun for kids while the parents do a bit of historical travelling for themselves.

Address: 67 Main Street

Directions: Take Main Street to the water and the parking lot is on the left behind the museum.

Phone: 860-767-8269


Review Helpfulness: 3.5 out of 5 stars

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  • Updated Jun 23, 2010
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