Traveling by train is BIG right now! More and more travelers are discovering just how incredibly scenic train travel can be. You can see cities, mountains, rivers, and wildlife from the seat of a train. Train travel is just a more relaxing experience than traveling by air or car.
Train travel is also romantic. Unlike the chaos found in an airport, or the traffic on a crowded highway, boarding a train will instantly relaxe you. In addition to the scenery, you can enjoy beautiful, historic train stations and roomy seats and sleeper cars onboard. You'll get the chance to get up and walk around, visit the dining car, or just sit and watch the beautiful scenery pass by.
There are many rail journeys you can take across the United States, with stops in exciting cities, historical landmarks, and national parks along the way. From Napa Valley to New England, Alaska and everything in-between, here are some of the best train travel routes in the country.
The Napa Valley Wine Train
The route follows a rail line originally built in 1864 that goes north to the resort town of Calistoga. Visitors can take a three-hour, 36-mile round-trip journey from downtown Napa to St. Helena and back. But it’s more than a train. It’s a luxurious vintage setting with a fabulous four-course meal, exclusive winery tours, and an intimate shared experience.
The Pacific Surfliner
Travel along the ocean on this Amtrak train that travels 351 miles through southern California. The Surfliner offers a unique view of the Southern California landscape. It runs multiple times a day, and you can go from beautiful cityscapes and shopping to beachside relaxation in a matter of hours. Hugging the coastline, it connects San Luis Obispo and San Diego through Los Angeles and Santa Barbara, and provides one of the best links to Anaheim and Orange County for family fun and theme parks.
The Coast Starlight
Ride up the edge of the West Coast on Amtrak's Coast Starlight, which goes all the way from Los Angeles to Seattle, passing through Santa Barbara, the San Francisco Bay Area, Sacramento, and Portland. The Coast Starlight is considered one of the most spectacular of all train routes, and the scenery is unsurpassed. The dramatic snow-covered peaks of the Cascade Range and Mount Shasta, lush forests, fertile valleys, and long stretches of Pacific Ocean shoreline provide a stunning backdrop for your journey.
The Grand Canyon Railway
The Grand Canyon Railway, which dates back to 1901, gives riders a lesson in history from the Wild West and the opportunity to see the beautiful scenery of one of the U.S.'s most famous regions. It's more than just a mode of transportation: it’s a trip back in time on restored rail cars with entertaining musicians and the antics of cowboy characters on board.The terrain constantly changes from desert to prairie. This train is great for the entire family.
Cross over the United States’ northern border on Amtrak Cascades, stretching from Vancouver, Canada to Eugene, Oregon, passing through Portland and Seattle along the way. Board the Amtrak Cascades train from downtown Seattle and enjoy a scenic trip past captivating towns, impressive forests, and lush farms into the heart of Vancouver, BC.
The White Pass Yukon Route
This trip takes you between Skagway, Alaska, and Carcross, Canada, along the same route that the Klondike stampeders traveled more than 100 years ago. The railroad began construction in 1898 during the Klondike Gold Rush as a means of reaching the goldfields. With its completion in 1900, it became the primary route to the interior of the Yukon. The route continued operation until 1982, and in 1988 was partially revived as a heritage railway.
Colorado Rail Experience
Traveling to summits of more than 14,000 feet, this experience takes you across the Colorado Rockies aboard five standard and narrow gauge railroads: Georgetown Loop Railroad, Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad, Cumbres & Toltec Scenic Railroad, Leadville, Colorado & Southern Railroad, and Royal Gorge Route Railroad. You'll discover landscapes hidden from traffic aboard their six different railways. While you ride, railroad experts and knowledgeable guides will introduce you to the mining and railway history of the state and the colorful past of the Old West.The journey also includes a visit to the Garden of the Gods.
Americas Great National Parks
Discover five of America’s national parks on one 14-day rail tour to America's West, including two overnight rail trips on Amtrak’s Empire Builder and California Zephyr trains. You will visit Glacier National Park, Yellowstone National Park, Jackson Hole, and the picturesque landscapes in Grand Teton National Park. Finally, you will visit Salt Lake City, Utah, the red rocks of Moab, and the natural wonders in Arches and Canyonlands National Parks.\
An Autumn Tour In New England
Take an eight-day escorted rail tour through New England in the fall to take in all the foliage colors. You'll see spectacular colors and beautiful mountain scenery along America's East Coast. Stay in Cape Cod, Boston, and the White Mountains, experiencing the region's scenic railroads on a seasonal tour that brings out the very best of New England. You'll enjoy a ferry journey to Martha's Vineyard, take a coach journey into the White Mountains, and discover the historical towns of Plymouth, Maine and New Hampshire. Several different itineraries are available.
The Maple Leaf Train
Take a train trip that starts at Niagara Falls and ends in New York City on Amtrak's Maple Leaf Train. Enjoy stunning views of the Hudson River Valley or hop off the train to visit Niagara Falls. This train offers several scenic routes and is operated by both Amtrak and Via Rail. The journey is spectacular, traveling through the scenic Hudson River Valley, New York’s wine country, the rugged gorges of the Finger Lakes, and the majestic vistas of Niagara Falls.
Train travel is truly the best way to see a destination from the inside. Traveling through small towns, villages, and landmarks at a relaxed pace is an elegant, stress free journey!