5 Amtrak Train Trips Worth Taking (Across the USA for $184)

An Amtrak train trip is a great way to see the best landscapes and foliage that the country has to offer. With various routes throughout the country, you’re sure to find one that suits you. With a first-class dining experience and all the amenities of home, all while the landscape passes by the window. Here are 5 Amtrak routes that are a must for all travel or rail enthusiasts.


Coast Starlight

All aboard the Coast Starlight! Running up the coast from Seattle, Washington to Los Angeles, California, this is considered to be the most scenic train ride in the United States. Kick your feet up in the sightseer lounge and take in the beautiful scenery of the Pacific coast. Watch beaches, farms, and wildflowers fly by the window, all from the comfort of Amtrak! This route traverses the Pacific coast for 1400 miles and takes about 35 hours to complete, with many stops along the way, including the San Francisco Bay area.

There is endless scenery to see outside the windows including the Willamette Valley, surrounded by mountains, to the east you will see the Cascade Range, to the West the Orange Coast Range is visible, and to the South you will see the Calapooya Mountains. Perhaps the highlight of the entire trip are the magnificent views of the Pacific coast. The best scenery is in Southern California, when riding along the coastline for 350 miles, watching the sand dunes and the beautiful Pacific Ocean.

You can book a private room or roomette on this trip, as well as a coach seat. If you don’t want to reserve a room, the coach seats are quite comfortable and give you a great view of the scenery. Food is served on the train in the dining car, which is a full-service restaurant. Choices range from chicken to steak, along with many sides to choose from, and of course, desert.

Fares start at $190.00 for coach seats, $610 for a roomette, and bedroom starts at $1,046. Keep in mind the price of the bedroom also includes all meals aboard the train.

Sunset Limited

This scenic route takes travelers from New Orleans, Louisiana, to Los Angeles with many stops in between. This train makes three round trips per week and traverses 1,995 miles of the southern portion of the country. The entire journey takes 48 hours to complete with stops in Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, and the final destination Los Angeles. I decided to take the Sunset Limited because I wanted a break from flying, I wanted to relax and enjoy the journey, while watching the landscape roll by. The Sunset Limited is also cheaper than flying, considering how long you are on the train, and the amenities that you receive.

During the trip, I relaxed in the comfort of my Superliner bedroom, watching the cities of Houston and San Antonio pass by my window. Stopping at each station watching more excited passengers board. I made my reservation in the dining car and was greeted with friendly staff and great food, I recommend the Amtrak steak. Afterwards I went to the sightseer lounge, meeting many fellow travelers and watched the scenic landscapes roll by. I recommend this service to anyone who wants a relaxing and enjoyable travel experience.


Empire Builder

Board the Empire Builder and traverse through big sky country! This 45 hour trip takes travelers through some of the best scenery a trip train can offer. Enjoy the sight of Glacier National Park in Montana, and the rolling plains that continue for miles, as you cross through the northern part of the country. When crossing through North Dakota, take in the breathtaking views of the rolling plains.

Boarding in Chicago Union Station, you will be greeted by the station’s stunning architecture of the 1920s, and the “Travel by Train” sign that adorns the outside. If you board in Portland Union Station, check out the very first Amtrak Metropolitan lounge if you are a sleeper car customer, or if you have reward points. Here you will be served complementary beverages and snacks. Boarding at Seattle’s King Street Station, you will be greeted by stunning architecture from the early 1900s.

Once on the train you will be greeted by friendly faces and all the hospitality that you would have come to expect. Like other Amtrak trips, you have the option of a bedroom or a coach seat. If you opt for the coach seat, you will have ample let room and comfort, however, the meals in the dining car are not included. Check out the Empire Builder to see all that rail travel has to offer.

Auto Train

While taking a trip to Florida, I was deciding whether to take the train, or to fly. What really sealed the deal for me was that I could take my car with me. Hop aboard the longest passenger train in the world from Lorton, Virginia to Sanford, Florida. Upon arriving at the Auto Train station, your vehicle is loaded up on the train behind the passenger cars. Enjoy a full bedroom with complimentary meals, or opt for a coach seat. Relax and enjoy the views of the southeast as you speed through the Carolinas and Georgia, passing through wooded areas and charming small towns.

Boarding at Lorton, you will find yourself just 30 minutes away from Washington, D.C. Here you’ll find a modern station with high glass walls and a modern waiting area. Boarding at Sanford, you will find yourself just 30 minutes outside of Orlando. Complimentary shuttle service is offered from noon through early afternoon to the nearby waterfront district.

Maple Leaf

Visit Canada on the Maple Leaf! This 544 mile, 12 hour service take travelers from New York City to Toronto, through the breathtaking Niagara Falls. There is no sleeper service on this train, however, the coach seats are comfortable, and you can opt for business class if you prefer. There is a café car for snacks and drinks that can be purchased on the train, these include sandwiches, salads, chips, and more.

Some of the most notable scenery on this route is the foliage of upstate New York, including mountains, rivers, and wildlife. I recommend taking this trip in the fall to watch the leaves change as you pass by. This train operates once daily in each direction and is definitely worth the trip.


For further information about train journeys in the U.S. and the entire world, check out this book.


Lifelong Rail Enthusiast and Owner of Worldwide Rails

Recent Posts