I have had a lot of time to plan vacations during the last 2 years. There is a lot on my list and my sister and my friend better be prepared for all I have planned. My issue can become that like to go for 8-10 days at a time. Most people don’t have that kind of time to take off. I am sure we will be able to work it out.
So apparently Amtrak offers vacations packages. I shouldn’t have been surprised but it intrigued me enough to find out more. Amtrak offers trips all over the United States and Canada. You can travel to amazing cities, scenic landscapes and spectacular national parks with the option to depart from the more than 500 Amtrak rail stations across the country. Check out the video here.
If you know me… then you know I am pulling for high speed rail across North America. Trains… I am all for them. We are so behind. In the meantime… I am down for a train vacation. The issue here would be selling it to Leah and my sister. The good thing seems to be being able to start the vacation from anywhere… meaning the station that may be close to you. Doesn’t sound bad to me.
So I spent the good part of the day going to the website and looking through it. The website is pretty easy to use. They have the vacation packages broken down by:
- Most Popular
- National Parks
- Canadian Rockies
- Cross Country Train Trips
- Alaska Rail and Trail
- Sleeper Train Trips
- First Time Traveler Picks
I have made a list ( as I normally do…) of all the things I would love to do. So let’s hop into it. This one I am going to do by category. I think it will be easier like that.
- Niagara Falls New York Getaway Roundtrip from Chicago – I get to see Chicago and Niagara Falls with a train ride in between? I am with it. Roundtrip getaway for 5 days for $459 per person. Not bad. The trip highlights include Maid of the Mist Boat Ride… I don’t think that is available during the winter time. You also get 2 nights’ hotel accommodations; 2 nights onboard Amtrak® with Roundtrip transfers from Amtrak station to Niagara Falls, NY hotel. (https://www.amtrakvacations.com/trips/niagara-falls-new-york-getaway-roundtrip-from-chicago)
- Pacific Northwest – 8 days – I have always wanted to see the other side of the country. I know it is beautiful. I know a few people that used to live in the West and they loved it. Seattle, Portland, and San Francisco. Seems decent. But I can already tell, if I tell my sister and Leah that they will be on a train for 8 days… I will have a riot on my hands. But nonetheless…. The highlights include Fisherman’s Wharf, a hop-on, hop-off sightseeing tour of San Francisco that includes (Chinatown, the Golden Gate Bridge, North Beach, Union Square, Golden Gate Park, and the Civic Center.) There is also a hop-on, hop-off sightseeing tour of Portland. The stops include Pioneer Square, and the Oregon Zoo.
- Jazz, Blues and Rock & Roll – So this one is good for music lovers. The starts vacation in Chicago and explore its famous blues scene and all the popular sites. Then, enjoy a relaxing train ride as you head to Memphis. The last stop is New Orleans, the birthplace of jazz. They offer a jazz brunch at the famous Court of Two Sisters restaurant. (I can see myself doing this and possibly my sister but I am not sure she is a jazz fan like that.) Take in the picturesque sights of New Orleans and the French Quarter from the deck of an old-fashioned paddlewheel boat. I can see this being fun but it is a 9 day trip and that can take it’s toll on a person. What I did notice was that there were several variation of this same trip depending on where you want start from.
- The Grand Rail Experience – This is a fun one… for people like me. I am totally okay with seeing the country on a train…. (I don’t think the girls will want to be on the train that long.) This package connects Amtrak’s top train routes across the top of the country, the Pacific Coast, Amtrak’s southern route known as the Sunset Limited, and up through our nation’s capital. There is plenty to do at each stop. You will be traveling through the great northern plains, the Rocky Mountains, and passing by Glacier National Park. This will a great opportunity to bring my camera…. I really enjoy natural scenery. There are hop on and off sightseeing tours in Seattle, Los Angeles and New Orleans.
- Essential American Heritage – 8 Days and 4 locations. I enjoy being up North… It has a lot of history. Now that I am adulting… I can see all the sites. Many people live in places rich in history and never see any of it. So this is right up my alley. We can walk the famous Freedom Trail, stroll through Boston Common, or whatever. Then I would get to head into NYC… to take in spectacular views of Manhattan from the ‘Top of the Rock,’ or cruise out to the Statue of Liberty in New York. And then see the place where the US Constitution, our nation’s founding document, was brought to life in Philadelphia. And then head to DC … You will get visit the many fascinating museums and impressive monuments. Travel between destinations by scenic and comfortable Amtrak trains, making for a relaxing and memorable journey.
National Park Vacations – I have since added national parks on my bucket list. Amtrak seems to have a plan to help me with that. So I am down with that.
- Glacier National Park and Alaska Highlights with the Norwegian Encore – This one seems super fun… But you will need your passport for this. This one is billed as extraordinary landscapes, breathtaking wildlife and photo-worthy geographic landscape. Chicago is the start of the journey. You head to Glacier National Park and spend 2 days there. You can relax in the Observation car as you travel through the North Dakota plains and Big Sky Country. You stay at Great Park Lodge for 2 nights. Then you get back on the train and head to Seattle. Visit exciting destinations such as Pike Place Market, Seattle’s Waterfront to see the Great Wheel or to Pioneer Square, Seattle’s first neighborhood. Then you can spend of evening at sea… on the Norwegian at Sea. It has been billed some of the best and freshest seafood you’ll ever taste. (I will love this.) We head off to Juneau, Alaska aboard the ship. So you head to Skagway, Ketchikan and Victoria… So much to do and explore.
- America’s National Parks with San Francisco – I have always wanted to visit San Francisco. So there is an appeal to start a train trip where I end up in San Francisco. Leah and Mariah better be ready. Here is a 12 day trip. But this trip covers 3 National Parks: Yellowstone, Arches, and Canyonlands – as well as time in the great cities of Salt Lake and San Francisco. We can visit the Rockies on an exhilarating full-day tour of Rocky Mountain National Park. Then you spend time in Utah for a full-day tour of two spectacular national parks: Arches and Canyonlands. Then we end up and San Francisco for 3 days.
- Scenic North America: Canadian Rockies and the Grand Canyon – Here is a downside… This is a 25 day trip…. There is no way I could do this with my sister and Leah. Who has that kind of time to take off from work? But I still would like to do it. The trip starts in Vancouver. You journey across Canada on VIA Rail, (I have always been interested in VIA rail. I may even do a separate post about it… Although it can be too expensive.) Canada’s impressive rail system, taking in the beautiful alpine towns of Jasper and Banff before heading east to Toronto and Niagara Falls. Then make your way across the US, from New York City to Los Angeles, with memorable stops in Chicago, Williams, and the iconic the Grand Canyon. Plenty of opportunity to explore and for photo ops. And I am so down for that. (In another post, I will tell you all about my want to make memories.) (https://www.amtrakvacations.com/trips/scenic-north-america-canadian-rockies-and-the-grand-canyon)
- Heart of Yellowstone National Park Discovery – So this one is a 7 day train ride… but it looks like it either starts in Montana or Utah. (https://www.amtrakvacations.com/trips/heart-of-yellowstone-national-park-discovery) Maybe I will fly in… You can board a sightseeing city tour of Salt Lake City that will guide you to such important sites as the Salt Lake Temple, Brigham Young’s Governor’s Mansion, and the Mormon Tabernacle. After Salt Lake City, enjoy the scenic drive up to Yellowstone National Park! There you will enjoy a fully guided tour that will bring you to Old Faithful Geyser, Yellowstone Lake, and the Fountain Paint Pot Nature Trail. I can just imagine the kinds of pictures I can get there.
- Grand National Parks of the West – Here is a great 12 day trip… 12 days seems long enough that I won’t lose my mind. 6 national parks seems like enough… I smell photo ops galore… LOL. I can imagine my nieces and nephews hating having to take all the pictures. You will be visiting the Rocky Mountains, Arches and Canyonlands, Grand Teton, Yellowstone, and Yosemite. In Denver, we get to board the California Zephyr toward Moab. Known as one of the most picturesque train rides in all of North America, this route climbs through the heart of the Rockies. There is nothing more that I look forward to. (https://www.amtrakvacations.com/trips/grand-national-parks-of-the-west)
- Grand Pacific Coast Rail Journey – This is only 21 days. No biggie. I am down to do it. You start in Vancouver and ride the rails to Seattle, Portland, San Francisco, Yosemite National Park, Napa Valley, Santa Barbara, Los Angeles and San Diego. All right up my alley. They have a Napa Valley Wine Train Tour that sounds exquisite. There is also the CityPass in both Seattle and San Francisco. No downside. Now to convince my sister and Leah… THIS IS DEF HAPPENING.
So needless to say… there is a lot to be planned in the next few years. There is a lot of time to made up for. I know that in order to pass this off to my friends and family… we have to be able to get on and off the train. And I think there is more than enough opportunity here. There also needs to be some accommodations and Amtrak has a few. (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6REgSk0QOoE&t=5s)
- Roomette -Roomettes feature two comfortable seats by day and upper and lower berths by night. Each room includes a big picture window, fresh towels and linens, and access to a private restroom and shower.
- Bedroom – Bedrooms provide twice the space as a Roomette and feature a sofa and separate chair by day transformed into upper and lower beds by night. Each room includes a big picture window, newly upgraded bedding, pillows, towels, linens, an in-room sink, restroom, and shower.
- Bedroom Suite – Bedrooms Suites combine two adjoining Bedrooms featuring two sofas and two separate chairs by day transformed into four beds by night. Each suite includes two big picture windows, newly upgraded bedding, pillows, towels, linens, two in-room sinks, restrooms, and showers.
- Family Bedroom – Family Rooms span the width of the car with ample space for two adults and two children. Each room features seating for four by day transformed into two upper and two lower beds by night, plus two big picture windows, newly upgraded bedding, pillows, towels, linens, and access to a private restroom and shower in your car.
Meals & Dining
Amtrak offers a variety of meals and dining options.
- Traditional Dining – Traditional dining service is provided in the Dining Car on the Auto Train, California Zephyr, Coast Starlight, Empire Builder, Southwest Chief, Sunset Limited, and Texas Eagle. Breakfast, lunch, and dinner are served. As an exclusive offering, customers in Private Sleeping Rooms enjoy complimentary meals throughout their journey.
- Cafe Menu – Most Amtrak routes offer Café service, with a variety of meals, snacks, and beverages for sale. The Café features roomy tables and comfortable seating for having a bite, taking in the view, playing cards or a board game, or just sharing time with friends, family, and new acquaintances.
- Flexible Dining – As an exclusive and complimentary offering for Sleeping Car customers, flexible dining service on the Capitol Limited, Cardinal, City of New Orleans, Crescent, Lake Shore Limited, Silver Meteor, Silver Star, and Texas Eagle (between Chicago and San Antonio) includes: A menu with hot, ready-to-serve choices for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Complimentary room service provided by the Sleeping Car attendant. And Flexible dining times without the need for reservations. (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=36-rW_CxXes)
I can see myself taking a train trip at least once a year… for the next few years. So here’s to hoping.