Weekend Wanderlust

This is a new series I'm trying out where I highlight specific trips I want to take.

Train travel in the US is something that I think is underrated as a form of vacationing. Yes, it's much slower to get to your final destination versus flying or driving, but it lets you enjoy the journey considerably more. Leg room, ability to get up and move around whenever you want, no luggage weight or size or number restrictions, plenty of outlets and wifi, and views for days (literally) all contribute to a comfortable trip across the country. I also just really like trains.

There are two specific train trips I want to take, one in the summer and one in the early fall. I would book a sleeper berth in both instances (Amtrak runs a lot of upgrade sales that I would take advantage of) to have some privacy and have meals included.

The summer trip would involve first taking the Empire Builder (about 3 days) from Chicago to Seattle. This route hugs the northern border of the US and passes by Glacier National Park. In Seattle, I would stop for a few days to see friends and do some national parks here and in Portland. Then, I would head south from Portland down through California on the Coast Starlight (about 2 days) to Santa Barbara. In Santa Barbara I would hop on the Pacific Surfliner (about 6 hours) to San Diego, then see friends in LA and San Diego before flying home.

The fall trip, which I would want to do around September to take advantage of high elevation fall foliage colors, would take me on one of the most beautiful train trips in the world on the California Zephyr (about 3 days) from Chicago across the Rockies and into San Francisco. In San Francisco, I'd rent a car, see friends, and head to Napa for a few days during the harvest season before flying home.

Have you done either of these trips or taken a long train trip in the US? I have done several tourist train rides and commuter-style travel on Amtrak that lasted several hours, but no overnights. In Europe, I rode the train basically everywhere, including the most fantastic overnight between Moscow and St Petersburg in Russia. There are lots of routes across the US that I want to take, but these two sound the most fun and scenic to me right now.
Weekend Wanderlust Weekend Wanderlust Reviewed by Maria on 4:19:00 PM Rating: 5

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