train trips USA

The 7 Best Train Trips To Take In The US

While you might think of traversing across America on an epic road trip or just hop on a plane to your destination, you’d be missing out on a unique way to see parts of the country you never otherwise would. Sit back, take in the amazing scenery and travel in comfort on one of these great train trips in the USA.

From cruising along the Pacific Coast in a luxe carriage to cutting through glaciers in Alaska, travelling by train is a must.

The Best Train Trips to Take in the US

1 .Coast Starlight

Route: Los Angeles – Seattle

Few things could ever come close to the scenery along the Pacific Coast. Over 36 hours, you will have a front-row seat to the stunning Cascade Mountains, rolling hills, glaciers and spectacular ocean cliffs. The most scenic route departs from Los Angelas and finishes in Seattle. Don’t miss the chance for the train of a lifetime.

best train rides USA

2. The California Zephyr

Route: Chicago – San Francisco

You’ll start your journey in Chicago, travelling 3,924km west, climbing through the breath-taking Rockies and snow-capped Sierra Nevadas, before you arrive at your final stop in San Francisco.

3. Amtrak’s Empire Builder

Route: Chicago – St. Paul/Minneapolis – Spokane – Portland/Seattle

This 46-hour journey takes you on an exciting adventure through majestic wilderness, following the footsteps of early pioneers. From Chicago, you’ll have magnificent views of the Mississippi and see the glowing night skyline of Minneapolis and St. Paul. Awake the next morning as you cross the North Dakota plains and travel over the spectacular Gassman Coulee Trestle.

Empire Builder Train | Amtrak

4. Southwest Chief

Route: Chicago – Kansas City – Albuquerque – Flagstaff – Los Angeles

The Southwest Chief runs daily between Chicago and Los Angeles, through the vast expanse of the legendary American West. Carving through curving canyon passages only a few feet wider than the train itself, you’ll see spectacular landscapes and views not visible from interstate highways.

Amtrak #3 at Apache Canyon, NM | Amtrak train #3, the eastbo… | Flickr

5. Great Smoky Mountains Railroad

Route: Bryson City, North Carolina

Enjoy stunning North Carolina scenery from the comfort of your seat with GSMR Nantahala Gorge train ride. In 4 1/2 roundtrip, you’ll be led 44 miles to and through the Natahala Gorge. Book your trip on a historic steam train here for one of the best train trips in the USA.

best train rides USA

6. Alaska Railroad’s Coastal Classic

Route: Anchorage – Girdwood – Seward

This beautiful route is a local favourite: convenient day trips from Anchorage to Seward with amazing scenery. You have about 7 hours to spend in Seward, the perfect amount of time to enjoy a Glacier & Wildlife Cruise into Kenai Fjords National Park. Or, opt for a visit to The Alaska Sealife Center and trip out to Exit Glacier.

train trips USA

7. Amtrak Adirondack

Route: New York – Montreal

The Amtrak Adirondack train travels daily from New York City, for a 10-hour journey through the wine country of the Hudson Valley, into Montreal. Board the southbound train anywhere along the line and arrive in mid-town Manhattan in time to enjoy dinner and nightlife in New York City. Convenient connecting trains at New York extend your reach to Philadelphia, Baltimore and Washington, DC.

train trips USA

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Sarah Clayton-Lea
Sarah Clayton-Lea

Co-founder of Big 7 Travel, Sarah created the company through her passion for championing the world's best food and travel experiences. Before her career in digital media, where she previously held roles such as Editor of Food&Wine Ireland, Sarah worked in the hospitality industry in Dublin and New York.

Contact [email protected]

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