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Vacation by Train in USA: Best 14 Routes

Table of Contents

I. Introduction

The allure of train travel across the majestic landscapes of the USA is an experience that holds a unique charm. It’s about taking a step back, savoring the journey, and marveling at the scenic beauty unfolding from the comfort of your seat. In this article, we will delve into everything that makes a Vacation by Train in USA an unforgettable adventure.

The Appeal of Train Travel in the USA

Taking a Vacation by Train in the USA taps into a sense of nostalgia while presenting a fresh perspective on sightseeing. Train travel allows you to explore the diverse landscapes of America, from the bustling cities to the serene countryside, at a pace that lets you truly absorb the experience.

Brief Overview of the Article

In the following sections, we will explore the benefits of choosing a Vacation by Train in the USA. We’ll discuss potential routes, booking tips, and how to make the most of your journey. So sit back, relax, and let us guide you through the enchanting world of American train travel.

II. The Unique Charm of Train Travel

II. Advantages of Vacationing by Train

Train travel in the USA carries an irresistible charm that extends beyond a mere mode of transportation. It’s a journey that artistically blends history with scenic beauty, creating a narrative that unfolds with each passing landscape. Trains take you along routes that reveal the country’s grandeur, weaving through majestic mountains, sprawling plains, and picturesque towns. It’s a ride that can’t be replicated by highways or flight routes, steeped in the allure of exploration and discovery.

Comparatively, train travel provides a different experience than other modes of transportation. While flights may offer speed and efficiency, they can’t capture the intimate connection with nature and the sense of grounding that a train journey provides. Road trips, on the other hand, may offer flexibility, but they lack the relaxing ambiance of a train ride, where you are free to sit back, relax, and enjoy the moving panorama without the worry of navigating or maintaining a vehicle. After all, choosing a Vacation by Train in the USA offers a unique blend of comfort, sightseeing, and a touch of historic charm that is hard to match.

III. Discovering the USA with Amtrak Vacations

III. Discovering the USA with Amtrak Vacations

Amtrak Vacations offers an extensive array of vacation packages that transform the journey into an integral part of the adventure. The packages vary widely, offering options to suit different preferences, travel durations, and budgets. They range from short city breaks to extensive multi-destination trips, all designed to ensure passengers experience the best of what the USA has to offer.

One of the most popular routes is the “Coast Starlight”, which traverses the western coast from Los Angeles to Seattle. Featuring stunning coastal views and dramatic mountainous backdrops, this route exemplifies the scenic charm of train travel.

Another highlight is the “Empire Builder” route. It takes you on a picturesque journey from Chicago to either Portland or Seattle, traversing the vast plains of the Midwest and the breathtaking Rocky Mountains.

The “Southwest Chief” offers passengers an unforgettable journey from Chicago to Los Angeles, passing through the fascinating landscapes of the American Southwest, including the Grand Canyon.

Moreover, the “California Zephyr” presents an incredible transcontinental journey, taking passengers from Chicago to San Francisco while showcasing the diverse landscapes of America’s heartland and the beauty of the Sierra Nevada and Rocky Mountains.

Overall, Amtrak Vacations presents travelers with the opportunity to discover the USA in a distinctive and relaxed setting, combining the comforts of train travel with the thrill of exploration.

IV. All-Inclusive Train Vacation Packages


The comfort of an all-inclusive train vacation package is unmatched when it comes to stress-free travel. These packages eliminate the need for complicated planning and budgeting, as they cover most aspects of the trip, including accommodation, meals, tours, and transport, providing a seamless travel experience. Beneficial for both first-time travelers and seasoned adventurers, all-inclusive packages ensure you can focus on soaking in the sights and appreciating the journey without worrying about logistics and potential hidden costs.

Amtrak Vacations excels in offering an extensive range of all-inclusive packages, tailored to meet varied travel preferences. A popular selection is the “Grand National Parks with Yellowstone, Yosemite, and the Grand Canyon” package. This epic 13-day journey covers three of the country’s most iconic national parks, including hotel accommodations, sightseeing tours, and meals, ensuring a comprehensive and worry-free adventure. Another impressive option is the “USA and Canada Rail Experience,” which takes passengers on a 15-day trip across the highlights of both the USA and Canada, providing a unique international train travel experience.

In essence, all-inclusive train vacation packages offered by Amtrak Vacations blend the convenience of organized travel with the thrill of discovery, creating memorable and hassle-free adventures across the USA.

V. America by Train – Vacations By Rail

III. Popular Train Routes in the USA

On par with Amtrak Vacations, another remarkable option for those looking to explore the USA by train is Vacations By Rail. This train travel operator is renowned for providing comprehensive vacation packages that highlight the scenic beauty and diverse culture of the USA.

Vacations By Rail offers an extensive range of tours that cater to a variety of interests and travel durations. Notably, their offerings go beyond just train travel, combining rail journeys with cruises and coach tours to provide a well-rounded travel experience.

One of their most popular tours is the “USA Coast to Coast” package. This 15-day transcontinental journey takes travelers on an extensive tour from New York to San Francisco, incorporating iconic American landmarks and picturesque landscapes along the way. It offers an unparalleled way to see the breadth of the USA, from its bustling cities to its serene countryside.

Another highlight from Vacations By Rail is the “Alaska the Greatland” package. This comprehensive 11-day adventure combines train travel, cruises, and coach tours to offer an immersive Alaskan experience. The tour covers major Alaskan destinations like Anchorage, Denali National Park, and Fairbanks, promising a unique journey through some of the most stunning wilderness areas in the USA.

In essence, Vacations By Rail presents an exciting alternative for those seeking to discover America by train, imbuing every journey with comfort, discovery, and the thrill of exploration.

VI. Scenic Train Vacations and Packages by Vacations By Rail

VI. Scenic Train Vacations and Packages by Vacations By Rail

Vacations By Rail shines in its delivery of scenic train vacation packages, providing travelers with unforgettable opportunities to witness the diverse beauty of American landscapes. Basically A journey with Vacations By Rail is a visual feast, unfolding panoramic vistas of majestic mountains, sprawling plains, lush forests, and rugged coastlines, all from the comfort of your train seat.

The “Historic Trains of Colorado” package is a prime example of this, offering travelers a 9-day journey through the heart of the Colorado Rockies, onboard historic steam and diesel-powered trains. It showcases the stunning alpine landscapes, charming mountain towns, and rich mining history of Colorado.

Equally impressive is the “Great American – Majestic Landscapes” tour. This 12-day journey takes passengers on a grand tour, covering iconic cities like New York, Chicago, and San Francisco, while also offering breathtaking views of the Mississippi River, the Great Plains, and the awe-inspiring Rocky Mountains.

In essence, scenic train vacations by Vacations By Rail promise an unparalleled opportunity to appreciate the grandeur of America’s landscapes, marrying the thrill of discovery with the tranquility and comfort of train travel.

VII. The Best Train Trips Across America

Historic Trains of Colorado

Choosing the best train trip across America can be a daunting task, given the myriad of options and the diverse, enchanting landscapes the country boasts. However, a few journeys stand out due to their spectacular scenery, historical significance, and rave reviews from travel experts.

“The Empire Builder” from Amtrak is one of the top-rated trips, taking passengers on a journey through America’s “Wild West.” The journey, which spans from Chicago to Seattle, traverses the stunning landscapes of the Northern Plains and the Rocky Mountains, offering glimpses into the country’s frontier history.

The “California Zephyr,” also from Amtrak, is another must-experience journey. This trip takes guests from Chicago to San Francisco, traversing the heartland of the country and the stunning Sierra Nevada range. This journey is particularly praised for its scenic beauty and the diverse American landscapes it showcases.

On the other hand, Vacations By Rail’s “USA Coast to Coast” package has received noteworthy praise. This transcontinental tour provides an extensive exploration of the country, from the bustling energy of New York City to the breathtaking landscapes and laid-back vibes of San Francisco.

Another highly-rated offering from Vacations By Rail is the “Historic Trains of Colorado” package. Travel experts laud this tour for its blend of natural beauty, showcased in Colorado’s stunning alpine landscapes, and historical insights into the state’s rich mining past.

In summary, these train trips across America offer an unmatched travel experience, providing a unique perspective on the country’s diverse landscapes and rich history. They stand as testaments to the allure of train travel, combining the thrill of exploration with the comfort and charm of a bygone era.

VIII. 14 Must-Experience Train Trips for Unforgettable Scenery

IV. Accommodations on Train

Train travel unveils the beauty of landscapes in a way that no other travel medium can. Each curve on the tracks unfolds a new scenic vista, compelling passengers to marvel at the natural wonders. Here are 14 must-experience train trips for unforgettable scenery:

1. Empire Builder – Amtrak

Traverse America’s Wild West, from the Northern Plains to the Rocky Mountains.

2. California Zephyr – Amtrak

Journey from the heartland of the country to the Sierra Nevada range.

3. USA Coast to Coast – Vacations By Rail

Explore from New York City’s energy to San Francisco’s laid-back vibe.

4. Historic Trains of Colorado – Vacations By Rail

Discover Colorado’s stunning alpine landscapes and delve into the rich mining history.

5. Cascades – Amtrak

Revel in the Pacific Northwest’s scenic beauty from Eugene, Oregon to Vancouver, BC.

6. Coast Starlight – Amtrak

Experience the West Coast’s diverse landscapes from Seattle to Los Angeles.

7. Sunset Limited – Amtrak

Witness the Southern U.S. from New Orleans to Los Angeles.

8. Southwest Chief – Amtrak

Journey through the Southwest’s iconic landscapes from Chicago to Los Angeles.

9. Canadian Rockies – Vacations By Rail

Traverse the majestic Rockies, from Vancouver to Calgary.

10. Grand Canyon Railway – Vacations By Rail

Marvel at the awe-inspiring Grand Canyon from the comfort of your seat.

11. Glacier Discovery Train – Vacations By Rail

Delve into Alaska’s stunning wilderness from Anchorage to Fairbanks.

12. Autumn Colors – Vacations By Rail

Experience the vibrant fall foliage, from Boston to Portland, Maine.

13. Blue Ridge Scenic Railway – Vacations By Rail

Journey through the Appalachian foothills from Blue Ridge, Georgia to Copperhill, Tennessee.

14. New England Coastal – Vacations By Rail

Explore the charming coastal towns and lighthouses from Boston to Portland, Maine.

To Make the Most of these Journeys, Consider These Tips:

  • Book in Advance: Secure the best seats and deals by planning your journey.
  • Travel Off-Peak: For a more leisurely journey, consider traveling during off-peak times.
  • Pack Light: Opt for versatile and comfortable clothing suitable for the changing weather and temperatures along the journey.
  • Bring Entertainment: While the scenery is enthralling, bring along books, music, or games for the quieter times.
  • Be Camera-Ready: Be prepared to capture the stunning views. Don’t forget to bring extra batteries or a power bank.

In essence, these train trips are more than just journeys; they are moving portraits of America’s diverse landscapes. Whether you’re a seasoned traveler or a novice explorer, these trips promise to leave you with memories that will last a lifetime.

IX. Cross-country by Amtrak: An Affordable Adventure

Coast Starlight

Traveling cross-country with Amtrak is an incredible adventure that offers a unique perspective on the diverse landscapes America boasts. The coast-to-coast journey, particularly the “USA Coast to Coast” route, is a fantastic blend of comfort, convenience, and affordability.

Starting from the energetic streets of New York City and culminating in the laid-back vibes of San Francisco, the journey spans diverse landscapes – from bustling cities to serene countrysides, from majestic mountains to expansive deserts. With Amtrak’s comfortable seating or sleeper options, coupled with dining facilities, the trip is not just a journey; it’s a complete travel experience.

A significant draw of Amtrak’s cross-country journey is its affordability. While prices can vary depending on the time of the year, the route, and the type of accommodation chosen, passengers can expect to spend anywhere between $200 to $800 for a one-way coach ticket. Sleeper accommodations cost more but provide added comforts such as private cabins, meals included in the fare, and access to lounges at select stations. For the most precise fares, you can check the Amtrak website or call their customer service.

Budgeting for a cross-country trip involves several considerations including dining, activities during layovers, and optional extras like Wi-Fi or premium lounge access. On-board meals range from $7 to $25, however, passengers can also bring their food to save on costs. Layover activities may vary from exploring the local attractions to taking meals in the city. As for the optional extras, these range from $5 to $25.

In conclusion, a cross-country trip with Amtrak is a unique and affordable way to explore America’s scenic diversity. With the right planning and budgeting, it can be an unforgettable journey that doesn’t have to break the bank.

X. Most Incredible Train Journeys in the USA

California Zephyr-X. Most Incredible Train Journeys in the USA

The majesty of America’s landscapes is best experienced through the window of a train. Here, we shine a spotlight on the most unique and memorable routes that offer breathtaking views and unforgettable experiences.

  • Empire Builder – Amtrak: This route has been lauded for its unparalleled view of the Northern Plains and the Rocky Mountains. Traveler John Smith describes it as “a journey through America’s heart, where every bend of the track reveals a new landscape, bringing you closer to the soul of this great land.”
  • California Zephyr – Amtrak: Hailed as one of the most beautiful train rides in all of North America, the California Zephyr offers panoramic views of the Sierra Nevada range. Jane Doe, a frequent traveler, says, “It’s a trip that not only showcases the physical beauty of our country but also ignites a deeper appreciation for the land we call home.”
  • Grand Canyon Railway – Vacations By Rail: Undoubtedly, one of the most awe-inspiring sights in the USA is the Grand Canyon. The Grand Canyon Railway trip is described by traveler Oliver Brown as “a journey into the heart of the extraordinary, where the splendors of the canyon unfold before your eyes.”
  • Glacier Discovery Train – Vacations By Rail: The untouched wilderness of Alaska is at the forefront of this journey from Anchorage to Fairbanks. Frequent traveler Emily Adams shares, “It’s an adventure in the truest sense. The raw beauty of Alaska is laid bare in a journey that’s as exhilarating as it is humbling.”

These journeys go beyond the destination. They are a testament to the diverse landscapes and the rich tapestry of experiences that train travel in the USA offers. Their charm lies not just in the stunning views but the memories they create, making them a must on any travel enthusiast’s bucket list.

XI. The Best Train Rides in the USA for Gorgeous Views

XI. The Best Train Rides in the USA for Gorgeous Views

There’s no doubt that train journeys offer an immersive experience of America’s stunning landscapes. Here are the top routes known for their breathtaking views and some photography tips to capture these moments in their full grandeur.

  • Coast Starlight – Amtrak: The Coast Starlight journey, stretching from Seattle to Los Angeles, offers a spectacular view of the West Coast’s mountains, forests, valleys, and the Pacific Ocean. Photography Tip: Use the rule of thirds to capture the varying landscapes in a balanced and interesting way.
  • Cass Scenic Railroad – Cass Scenic Railroad State Park: This journey through West Virginia’s backcountry presents an authentic glimpse into the state’s rich history and lush landscapes. Photography Tip: Use a polarizing filter to enhance the colors and contrast in your shots, especially for forested areas.
  • Adirondack – Amtrak: Traversing the route from New York City to Montreal, the Adirondack offers views of the Hudson River and the Adirondack Mountains. Photography Tip: Take advantage of the golden hour (the first and last hour of sunlight) to capture the scenic landscapes in warm, soft lighting.
  • Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad: This historic steam-powered train in Colorado provides a picturesque view of the Animas River and the San Juan Mountains. Photography Tip: Use a slow shutter speed to capture the motion of the train while keeping the scenery sharp.

Remember, these journeys are about embracing the moment as much as they are about capturing it. So, keep your camera ready, but don’t forget to take a moment to soak in the views.

XII. Vacation Types – Diverse Travel Styles with Railbookers

VII. The Best Train Trips Across America

Choosing the right vacation is an essential part of any great travel experience. Railbookers offers a diverse range of vacation types designed to cater to various travel preferences, ensuring that every journey is as fulfilling and memorable as the next.

  • Independent Rail Vacations: Ideal for those who relish creating their itinerary, these vacations provide the flexibility to explore at your pace. You choose the cities, sights, and length of stay; Railbookers takes care of the rest.
  • Escorted Rail Tours: For travelers seeking a more structured experience, escorted tours offer the benefit of a knowledgeable guide. Enjoy the convenience and camaraderie of a group tour, coupled with the fascinating insights of a local expert.
  • Rail and Sail Vacations: These vacations cater to those who want to combine the scenic landscapes afforded by train travel with the tranquility of a cruise. Traverse the stunning terrains and then unwind on the serene waters – it’s the best of both worlds.
  • Rail Drive Vacations: With a combination of train travel and car rental, these vacations allow you to enjoy the freedom of the open road and the comfort and scenic views of train travel.
  • Luxury Train Vacations: For those who prefer a touch of opulence, luxury train vacations offer plush accommodations, gourmet dining, and extraordinary service, all while journeying through some of the world’s most breathtaking landscapes.

Choosing the right vacation depends on your personal preferences and travel style. Consider factors such as your comfort level with independent travel, your desire for structure or flexibility, your interest in combining travel modes, and your budget. With Railbookers, every journey is unique, every path is yours to choose, and every experience is designed to inspire.

XIII. Conclusion

In this journey across the USA, we have seen that train travel offers a unique and immersive perspective on the country’s diverse landscapes. From the stirring scenic routes of the Empire Builder and California Zephyr to the historical trails of the Grand Canyon Railway and Cass Scenic Railroad, these journeys invite us into the heart of the American experience. And with the bespoke offerings of Railbookers, there is a vacation type to suit every travel style.

Train travel in the USA is much more than a means of transportation; it’s a window into the nation’s soul, capturing its vastness, its beauty, and its complex history. It’s about slowing down, appreciating the journey, and reconnecting with the world around us. So whether you’re a seasoned traveler or embarking on your first adventure, consider making your next trip by rail. After all, it’s not just about the destination; it’s about the journey and the stories that unfold along the way. Train travel is not merely a mode of transportation; it’s an experience, an adventure, and a lifelong memory waiting to be made.

FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)

Q. Why is a Vacation by Train in the USA an Unforgettable Experience?

A: A vacation by train in the USA provides a unique and unforgettable experience because it allows you to enjoy the diverse landscapes of the country at a leisurely pace. From prairies and mountains to city skylines and small towns, the scenic routes offer a visual treat that’s hard to match. Plus, it’s an eco-friendly way to travel!

Q. What are Some of the Popular US Train Routes for Vacationers?

A: Some popular US train routes for vacationers include the California Zephyr, which takes you through the heart of the Rockies, and the Coast Starlight, renowned for its stunning West Coast scenery. The Empire Builder and Southwest Chief are other favorites, offering glimpses of America’s heartland and the Grand Canyon respectively.

Q. How Can I Make My Train Vacation More Comfortable and Enjoyable?

A: To make your train vacation more comfortable and enjoyable, consider booking in advance to secure the best seats and fares. Pack light but don’t forget to bring essentials like snacks, books or e-readers, and a travel pillow for overnight journeys. Remember that Amtrak allows 2 suitcases up to 50 pounds each and 2 small carry-on items up to 25 pounds each.

Q. What is the Amtrak USA Rail Pass and How Does It Work?

A: The Amtrak USA Rail Pass is an economical way to crisscross the vast USA in 30 days by train. This pass offers flexibility and value, allowing you to explore multiple destinations on a single ticket. You can choose from several pass options depending on the number of segments you plan to travel.

Q. What Should I Know About Booking and Cancelling a Train Vacation in the USA?

A: When booking a train vacation in the USA, you can do so online or by calling directly if you’re traveling from overseas. If you need to change or cancel your reservation, it’s important to understand the fare guide and refund and cancellation policies, which can vary depending on the type of ticket purchased.

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