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Scare-Track Spectacular: New York's Halloween Train Rides

Last revised: January 1, 2024

By: Adam Burns

The state of New York is rich in railroad history and is home to several museums and excursion trains.  There are currently four different organizations hosting Halloween-themed trips, all of which are family-friendly.  More information about these events may be found further below.

Other Halloween Attractions

Halloween is a magical time of year for families to enjoy together, and there's no shortage of family-friendly Halloween attractions in the Empire State. From pumpkin patches to hayrides, haunted houses to kid-friendly costume parties, there's something for everyone in New York. If you are interested in enjoying this holiday beyond just a train ride here are some of the most popular across the state.

The Great Jack O'Lantern Blaze

(Croton-On-Hudson) The Great Jack O'Lantern Blaze is one of the most popular Halloween attractions in New York, and for good reason. This spectacular event features more than 7,000 intricately carved pumpkins arranged in dazzling displays throughout Van Cortlandt Manor in Croton-on-Hudson. Visitors can explore the pumpkin-filled paths, take in the spooky sights and sounds, and even watch as pumpkin artists carve their creations.

The Headless Horseman Hayrides and Haunted Houses

(Ulster Park): For families looking for a bit of spooky fun, The Headless Horseman Hayrides and Haunted Houses is a must-see. This attraction features a hayride through a dark and creepy forest, with actors dressed in spooky costumes and special effects that will have you jumping out of your skin. There are also several haunted houses to explore, each with their own terrifying themes.

Boo at the Zoo

(Bronx, New York): The Bronx Zoo's Boo at the Zoo is a family-friendly Halloween event that offers a range of fun and spooky activities. Kids can take part in a costume parade, explore a haunted forest, and even meet some creepy creatures up close. There are also special animal encounters and pumpkin carving demonstrations, making it a great day out for the whole family.

Halloween Harvest at Luna Park

Coney Island's Luna Park transforms into a family-friendly Halloween extravaganza during Harvest Fest. This event offers a range of Halloween-themed activities, including pumpkin picking, face painting, and a pumpkin patch. Kids can also enjoy rides and games, making it a fun day out for the whole family.

Halloween Spooktacular at the New York State Museum

The New York State Museum's Spooktacular event is a Halloween celebration that offers a range of fun and educational activities for kids. There are Halloween-themed crafts, a costume parade, and even a "mad scientist" demonstration. Visitors can also explore the museum's exhibits, including the spooky "Spirit of the Iroquois" exhibit.

These are just a few of the most popular family-friendly Halloween attractions in the Empire State. Whether you're looking for pumpkin patches, hayrides, or haunted houses, there's something for everyone in New York. So grab your costumes and get ready for a spooky, fun-filled Halloween season!

Adirondack Railroad

(Utica):  Since their first trip in 1992 the Adirondack Railroad (formerly Adirondack Scenic Railroad) has grown by leaps and bounds, literally.

Today, it operates a former New York Central branch that once extended from Utica all of the way to Lake Placid.  One of their many popular specials is the Haunted History Evening Excursion that operates a 2-hour trip from Thendara Station to Carter Station.

At Carter passengers will disembark and take a guided foot tour of the guides telling spooky tales of ghost stories in the local region and surrounding Adirondack Mountains.

2023 Dates

Not yet announced.

Arcade & Attica Railroad

(Arcade):  The Arcade & Attica, which also provides freight service over its rails, operates on trackage originally built and owned by the Buffalo, Attica & Arcade Railroad.  

Its passenger trains run between late May and December with several events held throughout the year.  One of these is the "Haunted Halloween Train Ride" during select dates in October.  This trip, tailored towards the kids, lasts around 2 hours and 20 minutes.  The children are encouraged to dress up in their favorite Halloween costume. 

Halfway during the trip, the train will stop at the Curriers Station and everyone can enter the haunted house.  There are also other activities to enjoy during this event!

2023 Dates

  • October 28 - October 29

Catskill Mountain Railroad

(Kingston): Based in Kingston the Catskill Mountain Railroad operates on trackage long-owned by the New York Central.  At one time this branch extended all of the way to Oneota but most of this corridor was long since abandoned.

There was once hope to reopen the corridor as far as Phoenicia but those plans fell through. Today, the organization operates about 3 miles of track to the west of Kingstown.  One of their popular specials is the "Pumpkin Express" where the kids can ride out to the pumpkin patch and pick out a pumpkin to carve for Halloween.

2023 Dates

  • October 21 - October 22
  • October 28 - October 29

Cooperstown & Charlotte Valley Railroad

(Cooperstown/Milford):  The Cooperstown & Charlotte Valley Railroad is operated by the Leatherstocking Railway Historical Society.  Their excursions depart from the restored wooden depot in Milford, originally built in 1876 by the Delaware & Hudson.

They currently maintain the former D&H Cooperstown Branch between Cooperstown Junction/Colliersville and Cooperstown although today, excursions are operated on the north end of the line between Milford and Cooperstown. 

Among their many special events is the "Pumpkin Patch Train" where the 2-hour round-trip includes the kids getting their own pumpkin to carve.  There are also other games and activities available.

2023 Dates (Pumpkin Patch Train)

  • October 21 - October 22

The railroad also hosts the Trick-Or-Treat Express where the kids can dress up for Halloween, enjoy a train ride, and take part in trick or treat

2023 Dates (Trick-Or-Treat Express)

  • October 28 - October 29

SteamLocomotive.com

Wes Barris's SteamLocomotive.com is simply the best web resource on the study of steam locomotives. 

It is difficult to truly articulate just how much material can be found at this website. 

It is quite staggering and a must visit!