All Aboard! Explore the U.S. by Train

Traveling by train can be a great family adventure!

It allows you to relax and enjoy the journey together instead of paying attention to the road or waiting in airports.

Whether you’re looking for a day trip, a weekend trip, or a more extended adventure, there are great options for exploring the U.S. by train, including visiting cities, National Parks, and entire coastlines.

We’ve pulled together a list of fun ways to make train travel part of a journey or the way to get around for an entire vacation!


Did you know Amtrak serves over 500 destinations across the U.S.? And there are over 200 National Park Service sites accessible by Amtrak.

Of course, you can enjoy great day trips by train, for example, from Washington D.C. to Philadelphia, or city break weekend trips to New York City, but what about these adventures…

Empire Builder Glacier National Park Adventure

Travel along portions of the Lewis and Clark trail as the Empire Builder travels between Chicago and the Pacific Northwest. You’ll head northwest from Chicago, cross North Dakota’s plains, and pass through Montana’s Big Sky Country.

Step off the train into Glacier National Park, called the “Crown of the Continent,” in Montana’s Rocky Mountains with more than a million acres of forest, 25 active glaciers, 700 lakes, including Hidden Lake, and 700 miles of hiking trails.

You can also continue the train adventure across Washington to Seattle or head down the Columbia River Gorge toward Portland, Oregon.

Southwest Chief Through the American West

Running from Chicago to Los Angeles, the Southwest Chief gives you a taste of the American West. Take in the landscapes of eight states from ranches and pueblos to mountains and deserts passing through curving canyon passages just wider than the train. Disembark in Flagstaff, Arizona, for a Route 66 or Grand Canyon Adventure. Or stop in Albuquerque and head north to explore Santa Fe. The train journey continues through the Mojave Desert and into Los Angeles.

Both of the above journeys feature Superliner Sleeping Cars, your hotel room on the train, with an assortment of private room accommodations (some even have adjoining rooms for big families). They also have Dining Cars with full menus and table service or have your meal delivered to your private Sleeping Car and their renowned Sightseer Lounge for spectacular views along the way.

There are lots of longer East Coast adventures as well. Take the Auto Train nonstop from outside of Washington, D.C., to Orlando, Florida. You can bring your vehicle on the journey without driving. You can book a Sleeping Car reservation and enjoy complimentary dining service in the Dining Car. Or take the Empire Service to New York’s Finger Lakes Region, Buffalo, and Niagara Falls.

Rocky Mountaineer’s Rockies to the Red Rocks

For over 30 years, Rocky Mountaineer has been providing fantastic train journeys through the Rocky Mountains of Western Canada. In 2021 they expand their routes to bring their spectacular trains and vacations to America’s Southwest with the inaugural season of their new route, the Rockies to the Red Rocks.

This 2-day adventure from the mile-high city of Denver, Colorado, to the red rock formations of Moab, Utah, has an overnight stay in Glenwood Springs, Colorado.

The luxurious onboard experience includes glass-dome cars, stellar service, storytelling by Onboard Hosts, and regionally-inspired cuisine.

The train winds along the Colorado River for much of its journey, through mountain ranges and past waterfalls and ancient rock canyons, as it travels at a slow pace of 30 mph so you can take in all the beautiful scenery.

Explore Denver on one end of your journey and Moab on the other end, including the breathtaking National Parks nearby like the Arches National Park, home to more than 2,000 natural sandstone arches.

Grand Canyon Railways Adventure

Just 30 miles from Flagstaff, Arizona, you’ll find Williams, Arizona, and the historic Grand Canyon Railway. Since 1901, it’s been taking passengers to the Grand Canyon, one of the Seven Wonders of the World.

The historic railway departs daily for the 2-hour, 65-mile trip to the Grand Canyon Depot, built in 1910, at the Canyon’s South Rim. You then have 3 hours to explore the Grand Canyon before the ride back.

The unique collection of historical railway cars, each has its own story, and you can choose from six different classes of service, from the Classic to the Luxury Observation Dome.

Onboard this trip back in time, you’ll be entertained by authentic Western cowboys and musicians who bring the Old West to life.

There are so many adventures to be had via train in the U.S. Get started planning your family’s memorable train vacation here.

Adventure Awaits!

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