People Say This Is The Most Gorgeous Train Ride In the U.S. And It Costs Less Than $100
Marilyn Caylor 8/31/2017
Nothing is more synonymous with the adventure and intrigue of epic train journeys, than the infamous Orient Express. At the start of the 20th century, during a time when travel was still rough and dangerous, this long-distance passenger train linked together exotic locales like Paris and Constantinople. Passengers who were wealthy enough to book a ticket could have found themselves in the company of kings, courtesans, smugglers, big-game hunters, diplomats, and of course - spies.
Sadly, the Orient Express is no longer in service, and it now only exists as a dreamy memory from yesteryear. The good news is that you can still capture the mystery and intrigue of the old Orient Express in modern-day America. Although you won't be dining in a private car with royalty, you can embark on this adventure for less than $100.
Passenger train use has fallen by the wayside, especially in the vast empty stretches of the American West, but it's still one of the cheapest ways to travel. Ironically, it turns out that the American West holds the key to one of the most gorgeous train rides in the country!
Let me introduce you to the Coast Starlight route. Amtrak is even tooting their own horn on their website:
"Widely regarded as one of the most spectacular of all train routes, the Coast Starlight links the greatest cities on the West Coast."
Based on the stunning photos below, it's certainly hard to dispute that claim. This looks incredible!
According to USA TODAY, the Coast Starlight has been around since the 1940's, but not many people know about this hidden gem. On the surface, it connects Los Angeles with Seattle, with stopovers in major cities like Santa Barbara, San Francisco, Sacramento, and Portland.
Of course, there are plenty of other departure points along the way, where you can hop on for the ride of a lifetime. Regardless of your starting point, the fabulous views are guaranteed to take your breath away.
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On a deeper level, this slow-motion journey connects your soul to the incredible natural beauty of the western US. You'll have plenty of time to sit back, relax, and smell the proverbial roses. During the spring, you may even spot a few wild roses blooming in the yonder meadows.
Amtrak actually makes it easy to spot all sorts of bloomin' eye-candy, since they've outfitted their Coast Starlight trains with special observation cars. It's decked out with floor-to-ceiling windows and super-comfy seats, giving passengers panoramic views of snowy mountain ranges, fertile valleys, pristine beaches, and lush forests.
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Since the Coast Starlight passes by a few National Parks, Amtrak has partnered with America's National Parks system to create a unique Trails & Rails program. That means you can make your train ride to your adventure, an actual adventure in itself! Budding gold diggers should definitely check out the Klondike Gold Rush National Historic Park between the Portland to Seattle segment.
From start to finish, the entire journey takes 35 hours. Although locomotion is much slower than a jumbo jet, what it lacks in speed it more than makes up for in comfort. For starters, you won't get a rude pat down at the security checkpoint. And, unlike coach travel on a plane, you won't be packed together like sweaty sardines.
The meals are also made fresh to order, and just like a pizza parlor, it's conveniently delivered right to your seat. Plus, if you reserve a sleeper car, you can take a quick catnap after lunch, or settle in for a longer overnight snooze. Don't forget to grab a pillow, because on a hazy day, it's easy to get lulled into a sweet, hypnotic trance.
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If full-service dining is more your thing, the Coast Starlight also has its own first-class section, known as the Pacific Parlour Car. According to Amtrak, this luxury car serves everything from cheese and wine tastings to tasty continental breakfasts. Or, you can also just kick back with a glass of ice tea, and soak in all the splendid glory.
Although there's free Wi-Fi in first-class, why would you want to stare at your phone, when you can gaze straight into the heart of mother nature?
By carefully planning your itinerary ahead of time, you can actually create a mini vacation based off of the Coast Starlight's route. Where else can you visit secluded beaches, sky-high mountains, and gigantic redwood forests all in one go? Be sure to book several smaller segments of the journey beforehand.
For example, you could spend the day sight-seeing in a small picturesque town, enjoy the comforts of a cute little bed and breakfast at night, and then hop on the next train that rolls through town.
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So how deep will America's most beautiful train ride reach into your pocketbook? Well, depending on your starting point, the journey can cost as little as $97. Oh, and seniors get a super sweet discount!
A trip-planner can be found on Amtrak's website, and will provide the exact price. Anyone who has been lucky enough to embark on this epic train ride will tell you it's worth every penny.