6 Best Train Trips in the US and Canada

North America is filled with breathtaking landscapes, vibrant cities, and unique towns. One of the best ways to explore both Canada and America is by train. Forget missed turns, traffic, and long hours behind the wheel. Exploring through train gives you the opportunity to take in the diverse landscapes across the US and Canada without the hassle that comes with driving.

If you’re ready for a one-of-a-kind learning adventure, it’s time to look into train vacations. Below, we curated a list of the best train trips in the US and Canada, whether you’re looking to learn about America’s historic music scene or discover the mountainous regions of Canada’s Rockies. Explore the best train trips in North America below to find an adventure that speaks to you.

1. Amtrak’s Coast Starlight

America’s West Coast is known for its sandy beaches and palm-tree-lined boardwalks. One of the best train rides in the US and Canada is through Amtrack’s Coast Starlight. The Coast Starlight starts in Los Angeles, California, and ends in Seattle, Washington. Along the way, you’ll travel up the Pacific Coast until San Luis Obispo, California, before going inland through the Cascade Mountains that wind through Northern California, Oregon, and Washington. Whether you’re looking to get a glimpse of giant Redwood’s or take in the vistas of iconic beaches like Santa Barbara, the Coast Starlight offers it all.

2. Alaska Railroad’s Coastal Classic

Explore The Last Frontier on Alaska Railroad’s Coastal Classic. Alaska is home to magnificent wildlife like elk and grizzly bears, massive glaciers, and breathtaking mountains. On the Coastal Classic, you’ll be able to take in the sights between Anchorage and Seward, and explore Alaska’s landscape all in one day.

3. Amtrak’s California Zephyr

Another one of the best train trips in North America is on Amtrak’s California Zephyr, which takes passengers from San Francisco, California, to Chicago, Illinois. What makes the California Zephyr train ride so popular is the breathtaking views you get along the way. With a total time of 11 hours, this train ride brings you from the Pacific Coast through the snow-capped Sierra Mountains. 

From there, you’ll ride through the deserts of Utah and the Rocky Mountains of Colorado. Passengers also have the option to make stops along the way, such as in Salt Lake City, Utah, or Denver, Colorado, if they’re looking to make an extended trip out of their voyage from California to Illinois.

4. Canada’s Rocky Mountaineer

Canada’s Rocky Mountaineer is dubbed one of the best train trips in the US and Canada, and for good reason. Passengers can start their journey in Vancouver and travel through the Canadian Rockies, which are even more imposing than the American side of the range. A highlight is Banff National Park, known for its icy blue waters, dense forests, and alpine mountains.

5. Amtrak’s City of New Orleans

The American Midwest is known for its culture, most notably its impact on music. Urban centers throughout the Midwest have been heavily influenced by African Americans who introduced music forms like jazz, gospel, and blues. If you’re looking to learn more about America’s Heartland, hop aboard Amtrak’s City of New Orleans train ride. 

The City of New Orleans train brings you from Chicago to New Orleans, with a stop along the way in Memphis, Tennessee. Through this experience, you can enjoy a night at the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, walk down Beale Street in Memphis to visit various venues, and learn the history of music giants like Louis Armstrong and Elvis Presley in Louisiana and Mississippi.

6. Grand Canyon Railway

The Grand Canyon is one of America’s most famous National Parks, and its reputation holds up. Venture on a National Park tour by booking a trip on the Grand Canyon Railway. Start in Williams, Arizona, and end in the Grand Canyon while traveling on restored rail cars. Once you arrive, you’ll be able to take in the stunning vistas of the red and orange cliffs that make up the Grand Canyon. Even better, this train ride can be completed in a day, making it the perfect adventure for those looking for an adventurous day trip.

Tips for Traveling By Train

Now that you know some of the best train rides in the US and Canada, it’s time to get prepared for your next adventure. To ensure your educational travel in Canada or America goes smoothly, consider these tips:

  •  Arrive early to ensure you have time to find your platform and secure a seat
  •  Pack snacks and beverages to keep hunger and thirst at bay
  •  Bring comfortable clothes and accessories like blankets and pillows
  •  Pack chargers for your phone, laptop, and camera to stay connected
  •  Move around the cabin to get food from the snack car, meet new people, and take in the scenery
  •  Review baggage rules to ensure you’re permitted to bring an overhead bag with all of your essentials, such as clothes, gear, and accessories

Traveling by train is an exciting and unique way to explore the world. With these tips on hand, you can make your journey comfortable and stress-free.

Exploring By Train With Road Scholar

At Road Scholar, we have a wide range of train trips to choose from in our collection of educational travel programs. In addition to our selection of the best train trips in the US and Canada, just as journeys through New England, Eastern Canada, and the American Southwest, we have train trips across the world. You can discover new destinations by train in areas like Switzerland, France, Africa, Australia, and beyond.

What makes our train treks remarkable is their versatility. Train trips make for popular trips for seniors and children alike, allowing all passengers to learn about new areas and enjoy small towns and cities along the way. No matter the learning program you choose, you’ll be immersed in the culture of your destination and learn from local experts about the history, traditions, and environment. 

If you’re ready to make lasting relationships, learn more about the world, and form lasting memories, book your next educational train trip with Road Scholar today.

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