USA Rail Tour Overview
With some of the most famous rail routes in the world, rail holidays in the USA are a perfect way to explore the land of the free. If the exploration of a self or fly-drive holiday appeals to you but the driving doesn’t, a tailor-made or escorted rail tour is the perfect solution. Step off the train and leap into the sights and sounds of the American landscape, from great cities to quaint towns and amazing vistas.
Better still, discovering the USA has never been easier with the convenient rail routes offered by Amtrak (who operate all public services in the USA), serving over 500 destinations across 46 states. The Amtrak trains are roomy and punctual, day services have seats with plenty of legroom and wide picture windows whilst long-distance routes that incorporate overnight journeys provide comfortable sleeping compartments with private and public bathrooms plus showers. The majority of long-distance trains also have a dining car serving breakfast, lunch and dinner.
So sit back, relax, take in the beauty of some of America’s most breathtaking scenery, and let the train take the strain.
Popular Amtrak Routes
With Amtrak’s convenient rail routes, travelling the USA by train has never been easier. The routes below are the ones we use most frequently when tailor-making independent rail tour itineraries for our clients. Through the Amtrak connection services and thruway bus routes, it’s never been easier for us to mix and match routes to create your very own great American adventure on Amtrak’s national network. Step right from the train and onto the sidewalks of big cities and small-towns. Tour historic landmarks and national parks. Visit museums and mountains; coastlines and concert halls. Savour regional cuisine and immerse in local culture. Whatever moves you, Discover North America and Amtrak will get you there.
Boston > New Haven >New York > Philadelphia > Baltimore > Washington, DC
Superior comfort, upscale amenities and polished professional service at speeds up to 150 mph, Acela Express offers hourly service downtown to downtown during peak morning and afternoon rush hours between New York, Washington, DC, Baltimore, Philadelphia and other intermediate cities, as well as many convenient round-trips between New York and Boston.
Montreal > Albany > New York
The Adirondack travels daily from New York City, through the lush wine country of the Hudson Valley, into Montreal. Heading north, you’re scheduled to depart New York’s Penn Station in the morning and arrive in Montreal in the evening. 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.
Vancouver, BC > Seattle > Tacoma > Portland > Salem > Eugene
The best way to experience the great Pacific Northwest is on the Amtrak Cascades. From Vancouver, British Columbia to Seattle, Portland and Eugene, Oregon, past Mount St. Helens and across the Columbia River Gorge, you’ll witness some of our continent’s most distinctive cities and most spectacular natural attractions.
Chicago > Omaha > Denver > Salt Lake City > Oakland (San Francisco)
Experienced travellers say the California Zephyr is one of the most beautiful train trips in all of North America. As you climb through the heart of the Rockies, and further west through the snow-capped Sierra Nevadas, you may find it hard to disagree. The Zephyr runs daily between Chicago and San Francisco, coursing through the plains of Nebraska to Denver, across the Rockies to Salt Lake City, and then through Reno and Sacramento into Emeryville/San Francisco. Connections in to San Francisco and Oakland stations via Thruway Bus Service at Emeryville, California.
Washington, DC > Pittsburgh > Cleveland > Chicago
The Capitol Limited train runs daily between Washington, DC and Chicago. You’ll follow the historic B&O line on your journey through the Potomac Valley, past historic Harpers Ferry and the Allegheny Mountains into Pittsburgh. Cross into Ohio heading north to Cleveland, and then across Ohio and Indiana into the centre of Chicago.
New York > Washington, DC > Charlottesville > Charleston > Cincinnati > Indianapolis > Chicago
The Cardinal operates between New York and Chicago three days a week, offering unforgettable views of the Southeast’s stunning natural beauty. You’ll see gently rolling horse country, the Blue Ridge and Allegheny Mountains, the Shenandoah Valley, and the wild white-water rivers of West Virginia as they can only be seen by train. Heading westward, the train rolls along the banks of the mighty Ohio River — from the quaint towns of Ashland and Maysville, to the skyline of Cincinnati. From there, your journey continues to Indianapolis, and then northward to Chicago.
Carolinian / Piedmont
Discover the Traditional Southern Charms of a Thoroughly Modern State. Amtrak offers two routes for travellers who want to explore the many wonders of North Carolina. The Piedmont travels between the vibrant commercial centre of Charlotte and the state capital of Raleigh. The Carolinian covers the same route, with service extending up the East Coast to New York City.
City of New Orleans
Chicago > Memphis > New Orleans
Your journey on the City of New Orleans takes you 900 miles through the heart of our nation’s musical heritage — from Chicago with its world-class Chicago Symphony Orchestra and still vibrant electric blues scene, to Beale Street in Memphis. Then, travel the history-laden musical crossroads of Mississippi to New Orleans — the birthplace of jazz. You’ll be riding in the shadows of giants of American music like Louis Armstrong, Robert Johnson, Muddy Waters and Elvis Presley.
Seattle > Portland > Sacramento > Los Angeles
A Grand West Coast Train Adventure, en route daily between Los Angeles and Seattle, the Coast Starlight train passes through Santa Barbara, the San Francisco Bay Area, Sacramento and Portland. Widely regarded as one of the most spectacular of all train routes, the Coast Starlight links the greatest cities on the West Coast. The scenery along the Coast Starlight route is unsurpassed. The dramatic snow-covered peaks of the Cascade Range and Mount Shasta, lush forests, fertile valleys and long stretches of Pacific Ocean shoreline provide a stunning backdrop for your journey.
New York > Atlanta > New Orleans
Convenient Daily Trips from the Big Apple to the Big Easy. With service from New York City to New Orleans, the Crescent gives travellers a unique window to the beauty and heritage of the American South. You can tour Monticello or enjoy a wine tasting in the charming Virginia college town of Charlottesville. Or enjoy a stroll through the vibrant shopping and dining scene of Underground Atlanta. As you travel further south, you’ll reach New Orleans, where you never run out of things to do. From jazz clubs to Cajun restaurants to Mississippi riverboat rides, the city was simply built to entertain.
Brunswick > Portland > Boston
Make getting there part of the experience with a trip on the Downeaster. With five round-trips daily between Boston and Portland, and two round-trips to Freeport and Brunswick, the Downeaster is your car-free connection to exciting New England destinations all year long. Travelling along the Downeaster’s route, you’ll find historic colonial cities offering beautiful beaches, a thriving arts and entertainment scene, world-class shopping — and the best seafood in the world.
Chicago > St. Paul/Minneapolis > Spokane > Portland/Seattle
Experience the rugged splendour of the American West. Travelling daily between Chicago and the Pacific Northwest along major portions of the Lewis and Clark trail, the mighty Empire Builder 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. Skirting the Missouri, you’ll cross into the Big Sky country in Montana, passing by a travelers favorite, Glacier National Park. From Spokane, you can continue on to Seattle or head down the Columbia River Gorge toward Portland for spectacular views of Mt. Hood and Beacon Rock.
New York > Albany > Syracuse > Rochester > Buffalo > Niagara Falls
With frequent daily trains between NYC and Albany (and others that continue to Buffalo and Niagara Falls), business and leisure travel has never been easier. You can do almost anything in New York City, but when it’s time to get out in the country, head north to the Hudson River Valley for a holiday in the wine country. Take the Empire Service to the Finger Lakes region or continue all the way to Buffalo and Niagara Falls.
Oklahoma City > Fort Worth
The Heartland Flyer connects Oklahoma City to Fort Worth, TX daily and also connects travelers to the cowboy state of mind that lives on in the West. At Fort Worth, connections are available to Dallas, Chicago and San Antonio via the Texas Eagle.
New York > Philadelphia > Harrisburg
Frequent daily service between New York City and Harrisburg by way of Philadelphia. Discover the wide variety of things to see and do in the Pennsylvania Corridor — from the ambiance of Pennsylvania Dutch country, to historic Philadelphia, to the big city excitement of New York City. History, art, shopping and recreation all come together on the Keystone Service. Keystone Service is financed in part through funds made available by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.
Lake Shore Limited
New York/Boston > Albany > Chicago
Daily service between Chicago and New York City, through South Bend, Cleveland and Buffalo, along some of the prettiest shorelines of the USA. You’ll travel along the south shore of Lake Michigan, the Mohawk River, and the Erie Canal, following a famous Native American Highway.
Toronto > Niagara Falls > Syracuse > Albany > New York
Go international onboard the Maple Leaf from New York City to Canada’s equally urban metropolis, Toronto. Along the way, you’ll travel through the beautiful Hudson River Valley, New York’s wine country, and the incredible gorges of the Finger Lakes region near the dramatic spectacle of Niagara Falls, where the Maple Leaf crosses the US/Canadian border.
Chicago > Grand Rapids/East Lansing > Port Huron/Detroit > Pontiac
Three convenient train lines for getting around the Wolverine State and beyond. The Pere Marquette connects Chicago and Grand Rapids, MI, revealing the natural beauty of Michigan’s West Coast. Stop along the way to enjoy the area’s wonderful beaches and rich Dutch heritage. Or head east to the shores of Lake Huron aboard the Blue Water. Passing through the famous cities of Kalamazoo, Battle Creek and East Lansing, the Blue Water ends in Port Huron, one of Michigan’s oldest cities and a place rich in the maritime history of the Great Lakes. There’s also plenty to see along the route of the Wolverine. Peer out over Lake Michigan as you head east from Chicago to visit the “Motor City” — Detroit, MI. There you can learn how the automobile changed America at the Henry Ford Museum, relive the famous Motown sound or even catch the excitement of a Red Wings hockey game.
San Francisco Bay Area / Sacramento > Bakersfield / Southern California
The San Joaquins provides a great way to connect your travel throughout California and the San Joaquin Valley. The San Joaquin Valley is California’s premier agricultural region, bordered on the west by the coastal mountain ranges, and on the east by California’s magnificent Yosemite, Kings Canyon, Sequoia, and Death Valley National Parks. The San Joaquins runs multiple times daily between the San Francisco Bay Area (or Sacramento) and Bakersfield, where Amtrak Thruway buses connect you to great Southern California destinations.
Silver Service / Palmetto
Let the Silver Service take you to Florida’s golden sands. The Silver Meteor and the Silver Star connect New York City and Miami with stops at dozens of exciting destinations in between. Whether you’re heading for the beach at Fort Lauderdale, taking the family to Busch Gardens or looking for alligators in Okeechobee, the Silver Service makes getting there a breeze. At the end of the line, be sure not to miss the beautiful beaches, colourful neighborhoods and Latin-influenced food and music of Miami.
Chicago > Kansas City > Albuquerque > Flagstaff > Los Angeles
Take in the grandeur of the American West on an adventure between Chicago and Los Angeles. The Southwest Chief runs daily between Chicago and Los Angeles, through the vast expanse of the fabled American West. You’ll be mesmerised by this region’s beauty and allure. The train will take you across the mighty Mississippi through eight states — past wheat fields and ranches, missions and pueblos, mountains and deserts. Carving through curving canyon passages only a few feet wider than the train itself, you’ll see spectacular landscapes and pristine vistas not visible from interstate highways.
New Orleans > San Antonio > Tucson > Phoenix > Los Angeles
Travel between Louisiana and California along this southern-most route. While onboard the Sunset Limited, settle back and watch the Bayou Country, Mexican border, southwestern deserts and California mountains pass by your window. Three trains depart weekly in each direction with an enhanced schedule and departure times for westbound trains. You can also make connections to additional Amtrak trains, including the Texas Eagle, Coast Starlight, Pacific Surfliner and San Joaquins.
Chicago > St. Louis > Dallas > San Antonio > (Los Angeles)
Ready for a real adventure? Let Amtrak take you deep in the heart of Texas. Hop aboard the Texas Eagle, traveling daily between Chicago and San Antonio, through major cities from Austin to Dallas. Connecting service between San Antonio and Los Angeles is available three times a week via the Sunset Limited. Wind through the Land of Lincoln, across the Mississippi River, and through the Ozarks to Little Rock and the piney woods of East Texas. Onward to colourful, cosmopolitan Dallas, through Austin (home of the University of Texas), and finally to San Antonio, where the legend of the Alamo and the Riverwalk attract people from all over the world.
St. Albans > Essex Junction (Burlington) > Springfield > New York > Washington, DC
Daily service between Washington, DC and St. Albans in northern Vermont. Your journey north on the Vermonter begins in DC and runs through New York City to Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Vermont. Vermont is renowned for the longest ski season in the East. Its world-famous ski resorts include Killington, Mount Snow, Smugglers’ Notch, Stowe, Sugarbush and Stratton. Experience the Green Mountain State’s scenic vistas and New England charm any time of the year. Treat yourself to a trip southward to one of the great cities of the eastern United States. New York City, Philadelphia, Baltimore and Washington, DC, are all stops on the Vermonter’s daily journey south.