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Inspirational Train Trips You Can Take Close to Home

f you have ever spent any time in Europe, you have probably been impressed with their efficient and comprehensive train service. Traveling by train in Europe is a great way to get around and see Europe while letting someone else do the driving. I always love watching the Swiss train conductor, standing on the platform, pocket watch in hand and, exactly as the clock strikes the hour of departure, he closes the door and off we go. My Type A personality loves that kind of precision and efficiency. The great news is: you don't have to go to Europe to enjoy the unique blessings of train travel. In this article, we give you several of our favorite US train trips - each one promising outstanding views and a chance to enjoy our beautiful country in a relaxed and unhurried manner.

The Alaska Coastal Classic

You already know that the views in Alaska are absolutely breathtaking. While taking a cruise is often the first thing people think of when deciding to visit Alaska, you might want to consider taking a train to really enjoy its magnificent wildernesses. Hop aboard the Coastal Classic and ride the 114-mile journey from Anchorage to Seward. You’ll have to plan your excursion because the train only runs from mid-May to mid-September. Be on the lookout for bald eagles and whales as the train takes you past the Chugach Mountains and along the Turnagain Arm waterway. Then it's off into the wilds of the Kenai Peninsula backcountry for fantastic views of ancient glaciers.

The Coastal Starlight - Seattle to LA

When we lived in Seattle, we had friends who lived in San Diego and would come to visit their children and grandchildren in Seattle by taking the Coastal Starlight. They had the joy of enjoying the scenery and arriving rested and refreshed and ready to play with their grandkids. This train takes you through some of the most gorgeous venues out west. Driving the Pacific Coast Highway is an iconic American road trip, but to really get the full effect of the stunning seaside cliffs, take what many call Amtrak's most beautiful train ride in the United States, the Coastal Starlight. It will take you 36 hours to take the 1,377-mile trip, but you’ll hit all the highlights such as San Francisco Bay, the snow-covered Cascades, the sapphire blue Crater Lake and Puget Sound. If you want to travel in style, get the upgraded package with a private sleeper car.

The California Zephyr- Chicago to San Francisco

What began in 1949 has become the transportation choice for thousands of travelers today who want to see America’s heartland. The Zephyr comes complete with four vista domes that provide passengers with breathtaking scenery as you pass through the Rockies, across the desert country of Nevada and Utah, and the snow-capped Sierra Nevada mountains in California. This scenic and historic train route promises to showcase the heart of Gold Rush country on its two-day, 2,800-mile rail journey.

The Southwest Chief

Want to see the Grand Canyon, the red cliffs of Sedona, the Rocky Mountains and some of Arizona’s missions all on the same trip? Here is your perfect train trip. At one time it was called the “Train of the Stars,” because the Southwest Chief was America’s first all-Pullman sleeping car train. Today, you don’t have to be a celebrity to take the same route between the Windy City and L.A. You can still enjoy a sleeping car and get some amazing pictures for your Facebook page.

The Grand Canyon Railway

You’ll definitely get a feel for the “Wild West” as you take a ride on the restored cars of the Grand Canyon Railway. The 65-mile trip will take you across the high desert to the South Rim of the canyon, offering terrific views of America’s most iconic, natural landmark. The trip features Old West entertainment complete with authentic characters passing on folklore and musicians providing a hand-clapping and foot-stomping good time.



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