In 1988, I took a 6-week trip from Washington DC to Seattle taking Amtrak’s southern route. I stopped in New Orleans, San Antonio, Dallas, San Francisco and Seattle and then flew back to DC. I had the time of my life looking out the windows and exploring cities during layovers. Since then I’ve taken Amtrak from DC to NYC numerous times and also for fall foliage trips to Burlington VT, Saratoga Springs, NY and Montreal.Now I’m looking for a new adventure. I plan on going the northern route from DC to Portland Oregon and returning using the route that goes through the middle of the country. On a 45-day pass, I get 18 stops and I’m interested in any advice or recommendations.For example,which stops are most scenic or more importantly, which stops I can definitely skip. If there are stops that are worth spending a couple of nights and renting a car, those recommendations are also welcome.
Fans Pick Best Places to Visit in 2014
When we vowed to retire the term “staycation” in 2014, you responded in a big way. Hundreds of you shared all the best places to visit by train in the New Year using the hashtag #Amtrak2014, and we’re excited to announce that the results are in!
Here are the top 10 places Amtrak fans & followers are going in 2014:
This historic city also made our list of best places to go in 2014. Fans from across the country chimed in on Facebook and Twitter to let us know they’ve got big plans for Bean Town. While there, make sure to get your fill of historic attractions like the Freedom Walk. It consists of 16 historically significant sights along a 2.5-mile brick walk. Oh, and the most obvious: Make 2014, the year you catch a fly ball at Fenway! (unless you’re a Yankees fan, of course.)
Routes: Acela Express, Downeaster, Northeast Regional
Denver was the No. 1 Colorado destination among fans, and our California Zephyr can get you there! With a Super Bowl-ready football team and mountains that were made to move you—Colorado promises to be worth the journey for adventure lovers. When you go, check out the Aspen X Games or the famous Denver Art Museum. Most importantly, don’t forget your camera!
Route: California Zephyr
8. Washington, D.C.
Politics aside, lots of fans agreed that it’s the nation’s capital that’s on their list of destinations for the New Year. For first-timers, attractions like the Lincoln Memorial and the White House are essential stops. For more seasoned travelers, try visiting during the world-famous Cherry Blossom Festival in the spring or the National Christmas Tree Lighting in December.
Route: Acela Express, Northeast Regional, Carolinian, just to name a few!
There’s more than wind in Chicago, and you’re ready to see it all for yourself. Chicago was the No. 1 Illinois destination, but Springfield also made the list. For fans interested in experiencing the Land of Lincoln, make sure to check out one of the nation’s best architectural achievements—Union Station’s Great Hall. No matter where your trip originates, it’s easy to get to Illinois because Chicago is the hub for many of our trains—11 different routes, in fact!
Route: Capitol Limited, Michigan Services, and California Zephyr, just to name a few!
6. New York City
Many of you will be drawn to the bright lights of Broadway and Times Square this year. But don’t let the classic tourist destinations keep you from experiencing hidden gems like Cronuts for the foodies and Yankees games for the sports fans. In the busiest city in the U.S., there’s something for everyone. And in February all eyes will be on New York as it hosts Super Bowl XLVIII. (psstt, we can even get you to that, too!)
5. New Orleans
Maybe it’s the fun of Mardi Gras or you’re really craving some beignets, but Amtrak fans are making a B-line for NOLA this year. The Louisiana city isn’t just the inspiration for our City of New Orleans route, it’s steeped in a history of influences from Europe, the Caribbean, Africa and beyond. From Bourbon Street to the NBA All-Star Game, New Orleans has a lot to offer visitors of all kinds. What are you waiting for?
Routes: Crescent, Sunset Limited & City of New Orleans
4. The Auto Train
This train is proof that the journey is the destination. It’s our premier service where customers can hop on in Northern Virginia (with their car!) and travel straight through to Sanford, Fla., just north of Orlando. It’s a family favorite, and you don’t plan to miss it in 2014. Be sure to book a roomette if you’re traveling with little ones. Not only are all meals included, but it gives you your own space and allows for better sleeping for you and the kids.
Route: Auto Train
You’ve got some serious 12th Man Syndrome happening in 2014! Lots of customers said they’re planning trips to Seattle this year. While it’s too early to tell if you’ll be traveling to a Super Bowl championship city, there are lots of sights to take in. One of our favorites? The beautiful and newly restored King Street train station. Oh, and of course, the original Starbucks location!
Routes: Empire Builder, Coast Starlight, Cascades
It might be the Polar Vortex talking, but many of you are booking trips for sunny Florida this year. Perhaps it’s the wonderful average temperature of 74 degrees or the glitzy clubs of Miami that have you inspired to go south for 2014. Whatever your inspiration, make sure to check out some of the state’s best attractions: theme parks, Art Basel and beaches!
Routes: Silver Service, Auto Train
Your top travel destination in 2014 is the Golden State of California! From Oakland to LA to beautiful San Diego, it seems like everyone’s got their sights set on the West Coast this year. In addition to the traditional attractions, our Los Angeles Union Station is a must-see. It's been in movies like The Dark Knight, The Italian Job and Blade Runner. If you prefer outdoor adventures, hop on the Pacific Surfliner and head down to San Diego (named the No. 1 place to visit in 2014). That train has tons of beachfront views and just as many Instagram opportunities!
Routes: California Zephyr, Coast Starlight, Pacific Surfliner, Capitol Corridor, and four more!
Where will you be going in 2014? Tell us in the comments below or use the special hashtag #Amtrak2014 on Facebook or Twitter to join the conversation!
Our 4 year old grandson asks when we're going back to "Floridelphia" on the train...he has over 25000 Amtrak miles under his belt, and chose to celebrate his recent birthday by traveling to Galesburg IL with grandma, grandpa, aunt and cousin for a quick day trip!
I will be going to San Antonio, TX to visit family this summer and will be taking the Sunset Limited out of New Orleans...I live near Mobile, AL and really wish the Sunset Limited service would be restored to Mobile and points East...I have become an avid Amtrak traveler and would love to be able to leave out of Mobile instead of having to get to New Orleans by bus first...
I'm sorry you neglected to mention that the Sunset Limited serves New Orleans. It's the best way to get to NOLA from the West Coast.
@AbbieWatters Thanks for catching that, Abbie! We've added it. How many times have you traveled that route?
We've done it a couple of times. We travel between Texas and Seattle, so we have a choice between LA and Chicago as the place to turn the corner. Children live in New Orleans and Chicago so a visit with them gets added into the mix. Empire Builder and Texas Eagle or City of New Orleans is our usual route, but I love the Coast Starlight and Sunset Limited. I really wish the Sunrise Limited would be reinstated.