The Forgotten Vacation: How To Travel The U.S. By Train

Once upon a time, trains were the primary mode of travel for those folks looking to make some long trips. America’s highways weren’t developed to the extent they are today, so traveling by car or bus would usually take much longer than most folks were willing to be on the road. Air travel was too expensive for many Americans. Sadly, the development of our highway systems and advances in technology have made cross-country train travel almost obsolete.

However, you can still find some really great train trips, and it’s sure to be a change of pace from the typical vacations you’re likely used to. Travelling by train is far more relaxing than crossing the country in your car and while train tickets will cost you more than typical bus tickets, it’s still cheaper than traveling by air and you’ll find the seats on a train far comfier!

To get you started, check out these notable train routes across America.

To start off, if you’re not quite ready to jump into an overnight trip, consider taking a day trip. One of the more notable and scenic options is the Grand Canyon Railway. You’ll feel like you’re in a classic Western movie as you take off from Williams, Arizona and head toward the Grand Canyon’s South Rim. You’ll get a ton of history about the area from the staff on board the train and the scenery is amazing. The whole excursion will take about 4.5 hours, roundtrip, and tickets are right around $70.

Another great day-trip option is a trip along the Cape Cod Railway. At only $25, this 27-mile trip is an affordable way to take in all of the historic sites of Cape Cod, from the sand dunes to the Cape Cod Canal. Don’t plan on riding in the winter, though, as the train only runs from May to October.

Day trips are fine, but if you’re looking to experience the classic, cross-country train trip, there are none better than the San Francisco to New York City run. You’ll spend almost 80 hours riding the rails across America, with stopovers in Salt Lake City, Denver and Chicago before finally arriving in New York City. Tickets on board an Amtrak train will cost you less than $200 if you want to go bare bones. A sleeper cabin will cost you more, but in either case, you get access to a dining car for a truly nostalgic experience.