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Travel The US By Train: Here’s How Much A Coast-To-Coast Train Trip Will Cost

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Summary

  • Amtrak offers an East Coast to West Coast train package that allows travelers to explore the United States by train, providing a scenic and relaxing experience.
  • The package includes a planned itinerary crossing the northern route of the country, with stops in cities like Chicago and San Francisco, as well as visits to attractions like Glacier National Park and the Golden Gate Bridge.
  • The trip costs between $1,250 and $3,000 per person for 10 days and 4 destinations, but considering the inclusions, it offers excellent value for a cross-country journey.

The United States may not be the first place people think of when it comes to train travel. However, there is a rather extensive network of interlinked destinations via train, thanks to Amtrak. Not only is there an array of reachable destinations by train, but it’s possible to travel from coast to coast.

Amtrak offers an east-to-west coast train package that allows travelers to experience the expansive contrasts of the United States all by train, and it could be a truly scenic and relaxing way to discover the heart of the U.S.

Amtrak’s East Coast To West Coast Train Experience

Amtrak offers a tour package from DC through Chicago and ending in San Francisco


Photo by:Bruce Fingerhood from Springfield, Oregon, USCC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Amtrak’s Coast Starlight crossing the North Fork of the Willamette River at Westfir, OR.

For those seeking the adventure of a lifetime, traveling by train could present the ultimate way to discover the unexplored pockets of a country with so much to offer. Much is often missed by travelers coming to the United States, where planes are the most common way to get between the east and west coasts.

This experience could be considered one of the best ways to see the U.S., thanks to the modern amenities and comforts Amtrak offers onboard their trains.

The East Coast to West Coast Rail Experience is a package tour that offers passengers a planned itinerary crossing the northern route of the country. Starting in the U.S. capital of Washington DC, the train will embark on an overnight journey to Chicago.

Travelers will then get to spend the night exploring the great city and have the chance to indulge in some of Chicago’s famous deep dish pizza.

The following day, the train runs across the great plains, through the Rocky Mountains, and even passes by the beautiful Glacier National Park.

Passengers will spend two more nights onboard, enjoying Amtrak’s comfortable cabins and complimentary meals provided in the dining car, all while soaking up the stunning scenery.

Related: 10 Best Historic Hotels In Chicago You Should Book

Arriving in Seattle the next morning, passengers will get to spend the whole day and night in the Emerald City, which has so much to offer (including free adventures), with some iconic foods to try at the famous Pike Place Market.

From Seattle, passengers will board the Coast Starlight train, Amtrak’s line between Seattle and Los Angeles. The journey will continue for one more night through its final stretch to San Francisco, California.

What makes this experience truly unique is, it doesn’t end there. After a night exploring the great city of San Francisco, the tour includes a day trip, crossing the Golden Gate Bridge, into the Muir Woods National Monument to experience the serene redwood forest.

From there it continues to the quaint seaside village of Sausalito, where visitors will get to have lunch and explore the lovely town with beautiful views of the bay, before taking a 30-minute cruise back to Fisherman’s Wharf for one last night in San Fran.

For the ultimate U.S. experience, travelers could fly into New York City and take the train down to Washington D.C. before embarking on the coast-to-coast train adventure. To go a step further, after landing in San Francisco, travelers could continue on the Coast Starlight down to Los Angeles before flying home.

How Much Does The Coast-to-Coast Train Cost (& What Is Included)

For 10 days and 4 destinations, travelers can expect to pay between $1,250 and $3,000 USD


The westbound Blue Water approaching Union Station against the Chicago skyline, as seen from the front window of an inbound Metra train
Joseph GageCC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The westbound Blue Water approaching Union Station against the Chicago skyline.

Because of what is included in this epic package deal, the price may seem high, but it comes down to an excellent cross-country value.

Passengers can expect to pay between $1,249-$3,000 USD per person for the entire trip, depending on the time of year. This may sound like a hefty sum, but it’s worth considering what the price includes on this ten-day, four-destination, 3,565-mile journey across the entire country.

Itinerary:

  • Day 1: Journey begins in Washington DC
  • Day 2: Overnight Onboard Amtrak
  • Day 3: Overnight in Chicago, IL
  • Day 4: Overnight Onboard Amtrak
  • Day 5: Overnight Onboard Amtrak
  • Day 6: Seattle, WA
  • Day 7: Overnight Onboard Amtrak
  • Day 8: San Francisco, CA
  • Day 9: Muir Woods & Sausalito
  • Day 10: Journey Ends in San Francisco.

Related: 10 Scenic Train Rides Throughout East Coast With The Best Views

What’s Included:

  • One-way Amtrak in Coach accommodations from Washington, DC to Chicago; Chicago to Seattle; Seattle to San Francisco on the Capitol Limited, Empire Builder and Coast Starlight
  • 5 nights’ hotel accommodations; 4 nights onboard Amtrak

Highlights:

  • Monuments by Moonlight tour in Washington, DC
  • Architecture cruise in Chicago
  • Admission to the Space Needle and Chihuly Garden & Glass Exhibit
  • Hop-on, hop-off sightseeing tour of San Francisco
  • Sightseeing tour of Muir Woods and Sausalito with Bay Cruise

Onboard:

  • Accommodation: Private sleeping rooms
  • Meals and Dining: Complimentary meals
  • Accessibility: Provides additional services for those with disabilities

Booking the Trip:

To book the trip, travelers can visit Amtrak’s website to select the desired day and month of departure, as well as fill out the details of all specific needs and desires for the trip.

Amtrak will then send a quote of how much the total cost will be.

  • Passengers also have the option of speaking directly with one of Amtrak’s travel advisors by calling: 1 (800) 268-7252.

Other Possible Cross-Country Routes In The US

Amtrak offers northern, central, or southern coast-to-coast routes


Amtrak arrives downtown at Union Station, San Diego, California
Shutterstock

Amtrak arrives downtown at Union Station, San Diego, California

While the East Coast to West Coast Rail Experience makes the whole traveling process easier and more convenient, it is possible to travel by train coast-to-coast via other routes.

For those wanting to be more independent and see different areas of the country, the Amtrak Network crosses through 46 of the 48 contiguous states, opening up an array of desirable destinations, with Chicago serving as the major hub.

Related: These Are The Cheapest Scenic Train Rides To Take Around The U.S.

From Chicago, routes are available across the central United States, passing through Colorado, Utah, and into San Francisco. Another possible route dips down through the heart of the southwest through enchanting New Mexico, across Arizona, and ending in Los Angeles.

The last possible coast-to-coast route is the southernmost route. From Chicago, the train heads into the heart and soul of the deep south, landing in the great city of New Orleans, where travelers can continue westward through Texas, ending once again, in Los Angeles.

If planning on traveling coast-to-coast independently, tickets will have to be booked separately for each leg of the journey.

Related: 10 Things That Are Actually Worth Buying On The Amtrak Train

From getting to see some of the country’s most stunning scenery to exploring some of the best cities, while sampling an array of the best food the country has to offer, The East Coast to West Coast Experience is the ultimate way to discover the United States.

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