Urbanvacations’s Weblog

May 24, 2020

#USAbyTrain #FriendsTravelWestHollywoodCa90069 #JessKalinowsky JESS@FriendsTravel.com

Who remembers the old jingle “See the USA in your Chevrolet?” We now you can do it train. Take your time!

Loop from Boston to California and back on the ultimate

US train trip – begin and end in any city along the route!

THERE REALLY IS something special about traveling by train. Softly moving side to side while the world whizzes by your window, reflecting upon the wonders of nature. You have free WiFi, knocking out some emails and scrolling through social media. and gazing out the window! Whatever your train activity of choice, it is a magical way to see places you never would by car and typically only see from above in an airplane.

It is also a fantastic way to see all — or almost all — of America as trains can take you to all four corners of the nation and every point in between. The bus-and-train-travel experts at #FriendsTravelWestHollywoodCa90069 has planned a spectacular itinerary that loops around the lower 48, taking you through deserts, mountain ranges, great plains and great lakes, with dozens of cool stops along the way. It doesn’t hit every state — just over half, actually — but it does show you just how big our country really is, and how beautiful. And it may be the most efficient way to see it all. We take care of all of your train travel arrangements, your local hotel arrangements, local sightseeing, ground transportation where needed, everything, from A-Z!

Leg one: Boston, Massachusetts, to Washington, DC

Length: 8 hours, 11 minutes

Though you can really begin your journey anywhere along this route,  we are starting in the far northeastern corner of the country in a little town called Boston, Massachusetts. Here, you will board the very un-glamorous Northeast Regional, a commuting favorite for business travelers connecting all the major cities of the northeast.

The trip will take you through seven states on your way to the nation’s capital, when you have got some time you might want to step off and check out Providence, Rhode Island, on the way. It has one of the best Little Italys in America, plus five colleges and universities right in town. You should also definitely take a few hours and get off at Penn Station in Manhattan. Because what is a trip around the US without at least one photo in Times Square? Catch a few Broadway Plays [we have the ticket connections!]

Leg two: Washington, DC, to New Orleans, Louisiana

New Orleans, Louisiana, USA street cars

Length: 26 hours, 2 minutes

The first long leg of your journey takes you from DC deep into the heart of Dixie aboard the Amtrak Crescent. It’s a 26-hour trip, so if you’re planning to plug straight through, we recommend booking a roomette or bedroom. Then again, compare that to the price of getting a lay-flat seat on an airplane, and this seems like a bargain.

The ride takes you through seven southern states — Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, and Louisiana — before dropping you in the Crescent City. If you’re keen to get off the train, make a stop in Greenville, South Carolina, and eat your way through the best small food city in America. And spend a couple of days exploring Atlanta before heading west. Charlotte, Greensboro, and Birmingham also have stops when  you want a real southern tour. Stop-over in any city along the way.

Leg three: New Orleans, Louisiana, to Los Angeles, California

Length: 46 hours, 35 minutes

The Amtrak Sunset Limited is probably the best way to take in the sprawling desert-scapes of the American Southwest. It’s also a fantastic way to learn how big Texas is, exactly, as you’ll spend nearly an entire day of this leg rumbling through the Lone Star State. This is another ride where it’s worth the value for the sleeper cabins, but if you’re looking to break the trip up, you’ll find plenty of cool stops along the way.

Houston, San Antonio, and El Paso all have stops along the Sunset Limited, as do Tucson, Arizona, and Palm Springs. Though you just want to gaze out the window at the red rocks and blue sky, nobody’s going to blame you.

Leg four: Los Angeles, California, to Seattle, Washington

Length: 29 hours, 1 minute

Driving up the Pacific Coast Highway is one of the great scenic American road trips. Of course, assuming you do crazy stuff like keep your eyes on the road when you drive, it can sometimes be tough to truly appreciate the grandeur of everything you’re driving through. Hop aboard the Coast Starlight and you will get the majesty of California with no road to focus on as your train travels up the coast through green mountains dropping into the crashing Pacific.

Once you’ve cleared the central coast you may want to take a day and explore Sacramento, one of the more underrated restaurant cities in the US. And get out in Portland and bike along the Willamette River before cruising through a few of its famous breweries. From there, it’s a few short hours to Seattle’s King Street Station. When you want to take a little bonus ride, jump on the Amtrak Cascades up to Vancouver, BC, for even more spectacular northwest scenery.

FREE BONUS: When stopping over in Los Angeles we will host you to a fine dining restaurant, where you might see some “Hollywood stars”, no guarantee, but possibly!

Leg five: Seattle, Washington, to Chicago, Illinois

Length: 45 hours, 15 minutes

Though it would be hard to pick a scenic highlight of a train trip around the US, the second day of this leg is hard to beat as the Amtrak Empire Builder goes headlong into Glacier National Park. It’s as close to a train trip through Switzerland as you’ll find in the US, with your train barreling past snow-capped mountains and vast alpine lakes before dipping into the flatlands of North Dakota and Minnesota.

When you are looking to break the trip,  we suggest spending a couple of days in Fargo, a city that offers far more than its namesake film would suggest. When you are lucky enough to go during fall, you absolutely must tailgate a North Dakota State football game. Even during other times of the year, Fargo is the epitome of Midwestern hospitality and has some fantastic beers you’d be hard-pressed to find elsewhere.

Leg six: Chicago, Illinois, to Cleveland, Ohio

Length: 6 hours, 5 minutes

After your massive trek from the West Coast, take a few days and enjoy the Windy City with all its diehard baseball and artery-clogging food. Once you’re sufficiently stuffed, jump aboard the second-shortest leg of your trip, a scant six-hour ride aboard the Amtrak Capitol Limited to Cleveland. You’ll roll over Lake Erie as you venture into Cleveland, narrowly missing Michigan but getting a second Great Lake along your tour.

Once in Cleveland, you’ll find a surprisingly vibrant city where you can eat at James Beard award-winning restaurants or traditional Polish cafeterias. When you are doing this trip during summer (highly recommended along the Great Lakes), catch a beachside concert at Edgewater Park. And check out the brilliant turn-of-the-century architecture in Playhouse Square, and in downtown’s many arcades.

Leg seven: Cleveland, Ohio, to Albany, New York

13 iconic landmarks to see in 13 US cities

Many call this the most beautiful state capitol in the country, if not one of the most beautiful buildings, period. It was the most expensive government building of its time, costing $25 million to construct between 1867 and 1899. Visit the Million Dollar Staircase, the War Room, and the Senate Chamber, and you will see what the Versailles-level fuss is all about.

Trivia fodder: Which four New York governors went on to become President?

Greyhound station: 34 Hamilton St, about a 15-minute walk from the capitol

Length: 8 hours, 41 minutes

Your tour of the Great Lakes continues as you roll along Lake Erie aboard the Lake Shore Limited. The ride to Albany is only about eight and a half hours, but once you’re up this way you would be remiss if you didn’t stand among the mist at Niagara Falls. Stop in Buffalo, scarf some wings, and take the half-hour trip to the falls. Be sure to bring your valid passport you can even head over into Canada and do some wine tasting.

Other stops of interest include Rochester, NY where you can enjoy a leisurely lunch at the Genesee Brewhouse before launching into a tour of the Northeast’s best beer town. After that, you’ll enjoy the rocking motion of the train as you nap the rest of the way into Albany.

Leg eight: Albany, New York, to Boston, Massachusetts

Length: 4 hours, 47 minutes

When you Are hard-pressed to do this trip as quickly as possible, you can just stay on the Lake Shore Limited another five hours, roughly, and take it all the way to Beantown. But we suggest taking some time in Albany, if for no other reason to make a trip out to Cooperstown and the Baseball Hall of Fame.  This is the shortest leg of the trip, and after traveling 6,500 miles and spending 175 hours on trains, it might be nice to complete the loop.

Traveling in the least expensive class of service and following this route, you will see 27 states across seven different Amtrak lines, all for under $1,500. Which is likely less than a road trip would have cost and certainly less than flying.

We strongly recommend the sleeping accommodations. In most cases the meals are included! Great Value!

So if this summer the great expanse of America is calling your name, a big train trip may be just what you are seeking!

#USAMotorcoachTours #FriendsTravelWestHollywoodCa90069 #JessKalinowsky JESS@FriendsTravel.com


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