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9 Roundtrip Train Journeys You Need to Take Now

By Amtrak Vacations Monday, May 17, 2021 Read time: 6 minutes

Summer is right around the corner, and with it, the next train to your favorite city or bucket-list destination! The beauty of taking a roundtrip train vacation on Amtrak is that you can start and end your journey at ANY of the 500+ Amtrak stations across the United States. So whether it’s the small station closest to your hometown, or a major station in one of your favorite cities, like Chicago, Washington, DC, or San Francisco, you can start and end your vacation where and when you want. Below, we present nine of our most popular roundtrip train vacations for inspiration. Plan for the coming warm weather and take one of these trips, or let one of our Rail Vacation Experts help you customize your own journey!

1. Rails to the Grand Canyon

Los Angeles > Williams Grand Canyon National Park > Los Angeles

Get ready for a scenic trip of a lifetime from the City of Angels to the majestic Grand Canyon! Board Amtrak in Los Angeles and enjoy the picturesque scenery of the great American Southwest as you venture over to Arizona. Your next stop is the magnificent Grand Canyon, one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World! Go where no automobile has ever gone before aboard the Grand Canyon Railway and travel down into the Canyon's South Rim for a guided tour of many lovely sights. Spend another full day exploring everything this amazing wonder has to offer and bask in the fresh mountain air and gorgeous scenery. This is one trip you will be talking about for years to come!   

2. Northern Rail Experience

San Francisco and Golden Gate Bridge from Beach
Chicago > Seattle > San Francisco > Chicago

Venture from the breathtaking great plains of the Midwest to the serene waters of the Pacific Coast on this scenic rail journey from Chicago to San Francisco, with a stop in Seattle. Enjoy the landscape as you travel along major portions of the Lewis and Clark trail. Explore Seattle on a hop-on, hop-off sightseeing tour. Discover the sights of San Francisco. Spend some quality time in two majestic parts of Northern California: Muir Woods and Sausalito. And, then you'll head back to the “Windy City” on board one of most beautiful train trips in all of North America! 

3. Glacier National Park Getaway Roundtrip from Chicago

Chicago > Glacier National Park > Chicago

Board Amtrak’s® famous Empire Builder® for a leisurely ride to Glacier National Park! Enjoy views of the North Dakota plains and prepare to head into Big Sky country as you make your way into Montana. Spend some quality time exploring a natural gem, Glacier National Park on this 6-day getaway to one of the most gorgeous parks in all of North America. Your Glacier National Park Getaway includes an exhilarating boat cruise in the scenic Two Medicine Valley; a breathtaking ride along the Going-to-the-Sun Road; and a tour of the lush Lake McDonald Valley. You’ll also get a chance to explore the park on your own. This getaway promises amazing scenery and lots of relaxation!

4. Niagara Falls Getaway Roundtrip from New York City 

New York City > Niagara Falls > New York City

Visit one of the Natural Wonders of the World on this 3-day roundtrip getaway. After traveling from New York City up to Niagara Falls, you will get a once-in-a-lifetime experience. Travel to the top of the Skylon Tower where you can enjoy expansive views of the Falls and the surrounding area. You will also get to travel right up to the Falls on a sightseeing boat cruise that will allow you to feel the mist of the rushing water. This is an exciting way to experience the wonders of Niagara Falls. 

5. Grand Rail Experience Roundtrip from Los Angeles

Los Angeles > New Orleans > Washington, DC > Chicago > Seattle > Los Angeles 

This sightseeing- and adventure-filled rail journey goes from coast-to-coast across America, with stops in some of the nation's most iconic cities:

  • Los Angeles, CA
  • New Orleans, LA
  • Washington, DC
  • Chicago, IL
  • Seattle, WA

It also features some of the most popular Amtrak train routes, like the Crescent, Sunset Limited, Empire Builder, and more. Get ready to check one off the bucket list with this epic rail journey! 

6. Arches and Canyonlands Getaway Roundtrip from Denver

Denver > Grand Junction > Arches National Park > Canyonlands National Park > Denver 

This quick Arches and Canyonlands Getaway is a journey not to be missed! It will introduce you to a couple of the most remarkable national parks in North America. As if sculpted by an artist’s hand, the sandstone arches that dot the landscape of Arches National Park in Moab, Utah, will take your breath away. The defining features of Canyonlands National Park—vast mesas, soaring rock columns, Native American cave paintings—provide a wealth of scenery and picture-worthy moments. Stop at Dead Horse Point State Park on your tour and take in the gorgeous views of the Colorado River and Canyonlands. 

7. New Orleans Ultimate Getaway Roundtrip from Chicago

Chicago > New Orleans > Chicago 

Begin your journey with a scenic train ride through the heart of America. After passing beautiful farm country, crossing lazy rivers, and traversing the bayou, you will arrive to New Orleans. The city is a fascinating blend of cultures and styles. Spend some time exploring the French Quarter and let the festive jazz music serenade you. Savor a sightseeing cruise on the Mississippi River aboard the Creole Queen Paddle Wheeler. Experience the timeless beauty of Southern Louisiana on a swamp boat. Your getaway also includes a New Orleans VISITicket Multi-Day Power Pass, which gives you access to more than 25 popular “NOLA” attractions, like the Audubon Aquarium. New Orleans is an endless source of adventure! 

8. Grand Tetons and Yellowstone Roundtrip from San Francisco

San FranciscoSalt Lake City > Jackson Hole > Grand Teton National Park > Yellowstone National Park > San Francisco

Embark on a trip that you’ll remember for years to come! America’s most beautiful natural landscapes are yours to discover on this eight-day roundtrip rail journey from San Francisco. En route to Salt Lake City, enjoy scenic desert vistas before reaching Jackson Hole and taking advantage of your time in Grand Teton National Park. Its sublime beauty and abundant wildlife is a picturesque wonder. Continue to Yellowstone National Park, where you’ll have the opportunity to catch Old Faithful’s eruption or grab your binoculars and head to Lamar Valley for your best chance of viewing elk and bears. 

9. Charleston & Savannah Roundtrip from Washington, DC

Washington, DC > Charleston > Savannah > Washington, DC

Visit Charleston and Savannah—two of the most popular and charming Southern cities in America—on your six-day roundtrip rail vacation! A visit to these captivating destinations is not one you will soon forget. Visit notable attractions in Charleston. Take a tour of the Magnolia Plantation, stroll along streetscapes lined with Spanish moss-draped oak trees, and learn about its colorful past along Rainbow Row. In Savannah, you’ll visit the Andrew Low House and the popular River Street. Walk the squares, get out and eat in the historic district, and stop and enjoy a mint julep along the way! 

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