Spring is here and it is time to get out of the house and greet the world again. Just in time for spring, Amtrak has an irresistible offer: $10 fares (each way) on the Downeaster which runs from Haverhill all the way through Portland and Freeport to Brunswick, Maine.
$10 tickets (one way) on two weekends only
These special fares are to let people sample the freedom of travel by rail. The offer is good for travel during the weekends of April 12 and 13 and May 17 and 18. Not only do adults get a deal, but on Saturday kids ages two to twelve ride for half price, and on Sunday they ride free with an adult on one of these special $10 tickets. Travel on this program is between Brunswick, Maine and Haverhill, Massachusetts and vice versa. Riders in Boston and Woburn will have to get to Haverhill in order to take advantage of this offer, but parking in Haverhill is only $4 a day.
This special requires that reservations be made in advance of the travel date, which is a good idea in any event. These tickets are for Coach fare and are not upgradeable to Business Class, but who need that on a day outing? When reserving, for the Kids Ride Free program use the reference code v581.
Why ride this train?
Dover, New Hampshire
In addition to the fun of the train ride, the city of Dover, New Hampshire has the top-notch New Hampshire Children’s Museum, with more than enough to keep kids occupied for a day. Its attractions appeal to kids of a broad age range, even adult kids. Trains stop at the station off 6th Street. It is a nice downhill walk to the museum in Henry Law Park on Central Avenue. Another New England treasure is the Woodman Institute, on Central Avenue south of downtown. This venerable institution houses an amazing collection of New England memorabilia including the original 1675 Damm-Drew log Garrison House.
Spend time in Portland at the Portland Museum of Art, one of the finest – yet seldom appreciated – museums of art in the country. The museum has a fine collection of Winslow Homer works and an outstanding collection of European and American works, including contemporary artists. . Through April 27 they are also hosting a special exhibit entitled American Drawings from the Brooklyn Museum including drawings and sketchbooks of 74 American artists from the 18th to the mid-20th centuries. Among others, they include Copley, Sargent, West, Eakins, Homer and Hopper. Another special exhibit, Preserving Creative Spaces: The Historic Artists Homes and Studios Project, focuses on a special project of the National Trust for Historic Preservation to locate, save, restore and preserve these special buildings. The Portland Museum owns the historic Winslow Homer studio at Prouts Neck.
I doubt that there is a single person in New England that has not heard of L.L. Bean, a company that sells some of the finest casual clothing and sports gear in the world. They call Freeport home and their store there is open 24 hours a day, every day. Most people find this store an adventure, but in addition to L.L. are outlet stores of many other national and international retailers and manufacturers. It might be tough to cram it all into one day.
The end of the train line is in the smallish town of Brunswick, but which is home to Bowdoin College and the Bowdoin College Museum of Art. It not only has an outstanding collection of its own, but is host to numerous temporary exhibitions which currently include “Under the Surface: Surrealist Photography”, and “ American Artists at Work: 1840-1950” with works by Thomas Cole, William Merritt Chase, Winslow Homer and Andrew Wyeth.
It’s simple: hop on the Downeaster at Haverhill the weekends of April 12 &13, or May 17 & 18, but better reserve first. Make it a getaway weekend, go up Saturday morning and come back Sunday afternoon, a great way to greet spring.