Although America is synonymous with air travel, the country’s infrastructure was originally built on a rail. The country still has 140,000 miles of track taking freight and passengers all over the country. America is perfect for a touring vacation, with each state offering something new and diverse.
Trains are an ideal and possibly overlooked means of transportation to see this magnificent country.
With this in mind, what should you know about train vacations in America? Read on to find out.
Package or Not to Package
There are package providers for train based vacations. Coast to coast is a popular choice, as is east coast cities. Packages will provide you with an itinerary to follow, although arguably, this lessens the sense of adventure. They arrange everything for you. The downside is that you’re locked into that itinerary, so if you want to spend a few days extra in a city or town, you cannot.
You may decide to book American train tickets yourself using a site such as Omio, and plan stays across the route. This way, you are in full control of your trip and schedule. That can be important to you, especially if you are planning to explore off the beaten track.
America’s Amtrak network offers you 500 stations to visit. Of course, you won’t see all of these on a rail vacation. It is interesting to note that thanks to the rail network routes, you see parts of America that are inaccessible by road.
You also have the added convenience of not having to worry about reading maps or driving. You can watch the country roll past without a care in the world.
The better train journeys allow you to combine it with other tours. So you hop off the train, see a part of America you haven’t noticed, and then hop back on for the next adventure.
Train Route Ideas
Now you have an idea of how train travel in America works, and it is time to plan your trip. Here are some ideas to whet your appetite.
The Grand Alaska Railroad is an epic journey featuring miles of track covering one of America’s more rugged states. Every day, freight and passengers traverse the country by rail. It is the railroad that makes much of the state accessible.
There are several journeys you can take that either take you across the state or see part of it. It all depends on your itinerary.
Touring the Denali National Park is popular, especially as this allows you to take a whale watching tour from Whittier.
Virginia is one of America’s most beautiful states. That is especially true in the fall when the Allegheny and Appalachian Mountains feature Allegheny foliage, which is always a beautiful sight. It isn’t just about the colors of fall, however, as many opt for the New River Train.
That takes you through the forests of Cheat Mountain. The choice of a train has been well thought out. Different carriages either feature a theme like the 1920s, or they have been converted from freight cars. You may well find your locomotive is from the steam era as well.
California needs no introduction, and there isn’t a person alive that hasn’t heard of the Golden State. If you know America and California well, seeing it by rail gives you a new perspective. Some great routes take you to San Francisco, the Redwood Forest, and Sacramento.
Many combine their train tour with other excursions allowing them to see more of the country and to participate in activities.
Seeing the Pikes Peak Cog by rail is quite a fantastic experience. The route which runs between Hill City and Keystone sometimes hit gradients of 24%. That is an epic adventure, and the scenery is breathtaking. The mountains always make a spectacular sight.
Coast to Coast
There is plenty of beach to coast railroad holidays in America. It is a great way to see the country, and you can take in iconic cities and other destinations such as New York, Denver, Salt Lake City, Washington DC, San Francisco, to name but a few. That is arguably a trip like no other, and the itinerary is relatively straightforward to plan.
And with careful planning, you can combine this with other sightseeing trips allowing you to take in more of America.
The iconic road may have been decommissioned in 1986, but much of the route can be seen by rail. Route 66 connected Chicago to Los Angeles. Train tours take in St Louis, Albuquerque, and Williams, who is the gateway to the Grand Canyon. A great route to check out.
As always, in America, they have thought of everything. There are three choices of sleeper accommodation for when those long adventurous, romantic trips travel overnight. They are:
Family Bedroom – Perfect for most families, the compartment sleeps two adults and two children. The sofa converts into a double bed, and two births fold down from above. Bathroom fatalities are in the same car or carriage. The bedrooms span the entire width of the vehicle, and you are treated to two picture windows. All families need a space, and this space is great for a train vacation.
Bedrooms – Ideally, these are suited to couples but can accommodate three people if needed. They tend to work by the sofa converting into a bed with a new birth folding down from the ceiling. They have the bonus of having their bathroom facilities.
Roomettes – These are designed for one or two passengers and work by the long seats converting into beds. There is also a birth that can be unfolded at night. Bathroom facilities are nearby in the same car, and a beautiful big picture window is yours to gaze upon the land.
Train travel is often an overlooked vacation choice. Given the extensive dining options and routes, this may offer the best vacation as you see parts of America you wouldn’t usually see. If you are planning a vacation, take the time to check out the options. You may find a hidden gem and have the best vacation you’ve ever had.