Train Travel in the USA
See nothing of America at 35,000 feet, so come down-to-earth and see world-class scenery from an Amtrak train across the US. You can travel from coast to coast for as little as $278 if you book well enough in advance. It is one of the world's greatest travel bargains. The USA has an excellent rail network for visitors even though it's only a skeleton network by European standards, it should take you to almost all the towns and cities a visitor wants to see. Long-distance trains in the USA are operated by the National Railroad Passenger Corporation better known as Amtrak.
There are longer distance transcontinental roots for example from New York to Florida which runs two trains a day in New Orleans to San Antonio to Los Angeles which runs three times a week. There are important short distance roots for example Washington-New York-Boston or Los Angeles-San Diego have inner-city services.
One can travel coast-to-coast 3,397 miles from New York to San Francisco in three days by train, a journey of a lifetime for as little as $278. What you would miss when you fly would be the scenery and Colorado's canyons. This 3000-mile journey across the US by train is one of the world's greatest travel experiences; it's easy, comfortable and safe and affordable alternative to flying. The 3000-mile coast-to-coast train ride takes three nights without stopovers. One can choose for five different routes each with their own character. By all means stop off on the way, but remember that a separate ticket is needed for each leg.
It takes one night from New York, Boston or Washington DC to Chicago where you change trains, then two nights from Chicago to Los Angeles, Denver San Francisco or Seattle on a superb double deck Superliner train.
You can also travel coast-to-coast via New Orleans, but it takes an extra night, as you need to spend a night in New Orleans.
If you book online at www.amtrak.com fares from New York to Los Angeles, San Francisco or Seattle started $278 in a spacious reclining seat. A private sleeper for one or two people can be added to your booking, the extra cost is hefty but the sleeper room charges includes all meals in the dining car as well as tea, coffee and fruit juice throughout the trip. Amtrak spacious trains also have dining cars and lounge cars open to both seat and sleeper passengers.
Don't book any tight connections because these trains run for over 2000 miles and although they can arrive on time, they can also sometimes arrive an hour too late.
The route that stands out as the most spectacular for both scenery and historical significance is the California Zephyr from Chicago to San Francisco. It is one of the world's greatest train journeys and in around 48 hours you across the farmlands of Nebraska, scale the Rockies beyond Denver while you eat egg and bacon for breakfast in the diner, snake through Rocky River valleys in Colorado and pass through the Sierra Nevada mountains to reach Sacramento or the San Francisco Bay Area. The root covers much of the very first historic transcontinental railroad route.
Another route is the Southwest Chief and will take you from Chicago to Los Angeles over the famous Santa Fe railroad alongside the famous Route 66, through Navajo Indian country and a stop off at the Grand Canyon.
The Superliners train from Chicago to Seattle Portland national Park to the mountains of Washington State. The New York-Chicago daily takes the scenic route up the Hudson River out of New York, with train tracks running right alongside the river, past West Point Military Academy. Try to get a seat on the left-hand side.
All the trains offer checked baggage. All passengers are entitled to check up to two large items of luggage free of charge plus any additional two large items for $20 each. Maximum 50 pounds per item and a name and address label must be attached. You can buy Amtrak tickets online at www.amtrak.com. Any ticket will be mailed to you. Booking opens 11 months in advance. You can also call Amtrak 24 hours a day at 1-800-USA RAIL.