Amtrak Autumn Express 2017

You're gonna want to add this one to your seasonal bucket list

If you're anything like me, you're probably still a bit jilted that your childhood didn't involve a visit to Platform 9¾ and a subsequent voyage aboard the Hogwarts Express. Lucky for us, Amtrak's Autumn Express is a real thing, and it's almost as magical.

Amtrak has plenty of stunning train journeys throughout North America, but this is one you won't want to miss. The rail company will offer two daylong, round-trip excursions—scheduled for Saturday, October 14, and Sunday, October 15—from New York City up through the Hudson Valley, chugging along a forgotten route that hasn't seen regular passenger service in decades. It's considered one of the best rail trails on the East Coast—especially in the fall—and tickets (which include a souvenir tote bag, lapel pin and lunch aboard) are currently available for $169.

The Autumn Express will leave from Penn Station at 8 a.m., then trek 40 miles alongside the west bank of the Hudson River and run past landmarks like Bear Mountain Bridge, Storm King Mountain and the Walkway over the Hudson, before traveling another 50 miles through the sleepy communities of Catskill, Athens and Ravena. The return trip will hug Amtrak's Hudson Line, a route dotted with views of Rhinecliff, Peekskill, the Spuyten Duyvil movable bridge and Bannerman's Castle on Pollepel Island. You'll arrive back in the city shortly after 6 p.m.—foliage-themed Instagram shots in tow.

Ian Centrone is a native New Yorker and freelance writer currently exploring South America. Follow his adventures at @iancentrone.