10 Breathtaking U.S. Train Trips Recalling the Golden Era of Rail Travel
Why just get somewhere when you can make the journey—slipping along the Mississippi, threading through Napa's vineyards, or thundering across the Grand Canyon—as glorious as your final destination.
Related: America's Most Romantic Cities
Grab your beau and your DSLR; it's time to take it slow.
Napa Valley Wine Train
There’s pretty much nothing more romantic than moon glow, which is why the Napa Valley Wine Train’s Moonlight Escape excursion probably beats most regular date nights. As you make your way through Napa Valley, enjoy a meal by executive chief Kelly Macdonald, along with (of course!) two glasses of wine.
Pullman Rail Journeys (Chicago-New Orleans)
While in Chicago, ask about the Master Bedroom suite in the Pontchartrain Club car, and take it all the way down to the Big Easy. On select trips, musicians from Chicago’s Old Town School of Folk Music serenade riders as they snake through the South.
Saratoga & North Creek Railway
If you’re starting in upstate New York, consider the old-timey Saratoga & North Creek Snow Train, which runs from January to March. As you look out the window across frozen Adirondack landscape, you can think of the lodge that’s waiting for you at the end of the journey in North Creek, New York.
Amtrak’s Northeast Corridor
On its way from the Connecticut shoreline town of Old Saybrook, the Northeast Corridor train affords couples the opportunity to watch passing sailboats on Long Island Sound, which is particularly beautiful as as the sun sinks below the horizon. For the complete experience, hop off in Mystic and stay at a local B&B to complete the experience.
Amtrak’s Pacific Surfliner
It’s really hard to go wrong with a day trip along the coastline of Southern California. Amtrak’s Surfliner takes passengers from San Luis Obispo down to San Diego, offering views of the Channel Islands and Santa Barbara, to name a few.
Grand Canyon Railway
This route takes riders across Grand Canyon Country—through the Ponderosa pine forest and expansive prairies, all the way to the South Rim. It’s worth booking tickets in the train’s Luxury Dome car, which provides a more intimate and down-tempo experience.
Amtrak Cascades service
Grab a ticket for the morning train from Seattle to Vancouver and you’ll be able to watch the sun rise over Puget Sound. As the train travels right next to the water, eagles, blue herons, and possibly an orca will be right outside your window.
Rio Grande Scenic Railroad
There’s perhaps no better way to experience Colorado’s San Luis Valley than via the Rio Grande Scenic Railroad’s Art Deco-style club cars. The sunset dinner ride offers cocktails and a meal, plus amazing views of Colorado’s peaks.
Maine Eastern Railroad
On this two-hour ride, get full view of the rocky landscape of Maine’s Midcoast region and the charming towns that populate it. As you glide along the water and through twee towns like Wiscasset, you’ll enjoy the views of Victorian homes and sailing vessels.
Sierra Dinner Train
Gorgeous vistas of Northern California’s Sierra Mountains surround passengers throughout this lunch train, which features a three-course meal and drinks. After lunch, make sure and head over to the open-air car, which is particularly great for photographers—no glass pane between you and the landscape!