With the summer vacation season nearly upon us, families across the U.S. are preparing for their annual excursions. Whether their plans are for a familiar, relatively- local getaways, or for a lengthy “road-trip” adventure, consider taking the family on one of the nation’s many luxury train rides that provide sightseeing opportunities and unique experiences not possible to adequately appreciate via any other mode of transportation. Following are several luxury train rides guaranteed to educate, entertain and inspire every member of the family.
Strasburg Railroad — Strasburg to Paradise, Pa.
The oldest continuously-active rail line (1832-present) in the U.S. is the historic Strasburg Railroad which takes passengers on a nine-mile tour through the picturesque rolling hills and fertile countryside of Pennsylvania’s Dutch Amish Country. Outfitted with luxurious Gilded Age-era cars, this leisurely adventure makes for an unforgettable experience that feels like almost like a trip back in time.
California Zephyr — Chicago, Il. to Emeryville, Cal.
For a true Wild West adventure, the California Zephyr train tour gives passengers an idea of what the early pioneers experienced during their westward migration (minus the covered wagons.) Beginning in Chicago, this historic venture travels across the Great Plains, Denver, the majestic Rockies, Utah’s beautiful Red Rocks country, Salt Lake City, the spectacular Sierra Mountains and Reno, on through the infamous Donner Pass before arriving at Emeryville in the San Francisco Bay region.
Pullman Rail Journeys — Chicago, Il. to New Orleans, La.
Another luxury train tour originating in Chicago are the popular Pullman Rail Journeys. For this nineteen plus hour adventure, passengers ride on an impressively refurbished Art Deco-styled train through the iconic American South all the way to the “Big Easy” city of New Orleans. A symbol of the Golden Age of railroad travel, a Pullman car stands alone regarding railway opulence, craftsmanship, and style.
Grand Canyon Railway — Williams to Grand Canyon, Az.
In operation for over 100 years, the Grand Canyon Railway tour offers a meandering, sometimes dizzying trip through some of southwest America’s most awe-inspiring, beautiful and diverse natural scenery. From lush, old growth forests, colorful desert panoramas and ancient, towering canyons, lucky passengers are even more rewarded at the end of an eight hours-plus journey when they arrive at the legendary Grand Canyon, one of the world’s great natural wonders.
Amtrak Cascades — Eugene, Ore. to Vancouver, B.C.
Often overlooked and vastly underappreciated, the incredible natural beauty of the Pacific Northwest is available in all its splendor from aboard an Amtrak Cascades train tour. From majestic, breathtaking mountains to spectacular oceanside scenery to towering woodlands, a Cascades adventure is certain to be an experience not soon to be forgotten, claiming extraordinarily high “return visit” numbers.
Great Smoky Mountains Railroad — Bryson City to Nantahala Gorge, NC
America’s most visited National Park is perhaps best experienced via a four hours-plus sightseeing adventure aboard the Great Smoky Mountains Railroad. Running alongside the picture postcard-like Nantahala and Tennessee Rivers, passengers will be regaled by bluegrass music and unique, entertaining Appalachian folklore, all while surrounded by the ever-present beauty of the matchless Great Smokies, especially during the autumn months when the fall season’s colorful foliage nears its peak.
Cape Cod Central Railroad — Hyannis to Sandwich, Mass.
Serving New England since 1848, the Cape Cod Central features immaculately refurbished cars that provide luxurious comfort for passengers as they experience a relaxing two-hour journey through historic Cape Cod’s almost endless natural beauty. The landscape offers amazing diversity, ranging from thick forest canopies, cranberry bogs, marshland, dunes, and the Atlantic Ocean.
Napa Valley Wine Train — Napa to Saint Helena, Cal.
Wine aficionados aren’t the only visitors guaranteed to enjoy a train tour through the historic Napa Valley. For three hours, passengers will be in awe of the natural beauty of the region’s lush rolling hills dotted by its many world famous vineyards. As an additional feature, passengers are treated to a gourmet, multi-course dining in lavishly appointed dining cars.
Cumbres & Toltec Scenic Railroad — Chama, NM to Antonito, Colo.
A regular fixture among Best Scenic Train Ride surveys, the Cumbres & Toltec Railroad offers an authentic coal-powered steam engine train adventure through 64 miles of some of the rugged West’s rarely glimpsed scenery. As you are chugging through high desert, you see vibrant green meadows bursting with native wildflowers, winding through impossibly steep mountain canyons. C&T passengers ride in Victorian elegance through some of New Mexico and Colorado’s most normally unseen wilderness.
Coast Starlight — Seattle, Wash. to Los Angeles, Cal.
The Coast Starlight train is approaching its 50th year of continuous service and travels 1,377 miles from the Great Northwest to southern California, making 28 stops. Operated by Amtrak, the Starlight services all major cities along the route and features all of the most popular and historically significant Pacific Coast points of interest, including Tacoma, Vancouver, Portland, the Cascade Mountains, Crater Lake, Klamath Falls, Mount Shasta, Sacramento, Oakland, the Simi Valley and Los Angeles. The scenery is breathtaking, the accommodations luxurious and the experience is truly second to none.