Learn How to Appreciate the Journey Aboard These 7 Train Vacations in the USA
Coast Starlight (Amtrak): Seattle, WA to Los Angeles, CA
Amtrak’s most popular long distance train route and one of the most stunning luxury train trips in the USA will take you all along the Pacific Coast. Whether you start in Seattle or Los Angeles, the Coast Starlight will allow you to enjoy unparalleled views of the Pacific Ocean along with lush forests, rushing waterfalls and the picturesque Puget Sound in Washington.
As it’s a 35-hour ride, you’ll want to book a private room in the sleeping car, especially if traveling with a group or your family. While having a bed to sleep on is certainly a perk, private rooms also get access to upgraded dining in the Pacific Parlour Car for meals and an evening wine and cheese reception. A room for two will cost about $225 USD per person one way.
If you’re flying solo, you can try your luck by curling up on a coach seat for around $97 USD one way.
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Grand Canyon Railway: Williams, AZ to Grand Canyon National Park, AZ
Another one of the best train vacations in the USA takes you through Arizona to the Grand Canyon’s Southern Rim on the historic Grand Canyon Railway. Operating since 1901, the restored cars and on-board period actors give riders a sense of how the train was in its heyday. Enjoy live entertainment as you chug for two hours and 15 minutes through deserts and forests before finally arriving at the canyon where you can explore on your own or with a tour.
Vacation packages are available for multi-day trips including meals and hotels for around $650 USD and up. However, day trips start at just $33.50 USD for adults and $16 USD for kids, one way. In Pullman Class, you can ride in one of the 1923 Harriman refurbished cars — the most economical option. Prices go all the way up to $113 USD per adult for the Luxury Parlor car at the rear of the train, which has an open-air platform for sightseeing. Other high-end classes also have access to observation dome or panoramic cars in addition to bars and lounges with comfortable seating.
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Crescent (Amtrak): New York, NY to New Orleans, LA
Ever wanted to travel across 13 states in 30 hours? Well, with Amtrak’s Crescent line train, you can do exactly that, traveling from New York City to New Orleans. Among the stops along the way are Philly, Baltimore, DC, Charlotte, Greenville and Atlanta with many smaller towns and cities in between.
Coach seats start at around $134 USD per person, but since it’s an overnight, cross country train, booking a Viewliner Roomette or Bedroom is a smart choice. Although they may be tiny, these rooms — which include a toilet, shower, chairs and pull-down beds — can cost upwards of $1,100 USD one way, and you may be paired with a stranger if traveling solo.
But if not for the views and the relaxed vibe of the train, booking a room on the Crescent will give you access to their surprisingly well put together menu. Enjoy breakfast, lunch and dinner on board, choosing from omelets, mussels, and surf and turf hand-selected by award-winning chefs.