You "Hobby" of collecting trains, and sharing with us how you used to travel by train with your Grandfather prompted this post. With travel costs going way, way up, the trains represent a great alternative for travelers!
While I don't have time to list all the many options available, I hope you can share some real "Time and Money Saving" options with other MRI!
I would like to share a favorite of mine! STL to Chicago! The Renaissance in STL, is very close to depart from, and in Chicago, you have wonderful choices along The Miracle Mile!
Coming into a "Glorious" Chicago is wonderful on AMTRAK!
the 'Sears Tower" is a welcome sight!
Bye-Bye Chicago! This is leaving the Chicago Station. A few days of fun! The AMTRAK R/T was about the same price as ONE DAY of parking in Chicago!
This picture is NOT from the train, but it passes right in front of the ARCH. Welcome back to St. Louis!
How about sharing your train story to/from your Marriott property!
Kansas City to St. Louis is a nice trip and cost effective when traveling alone. My daughter could usually take the train for about $25 each way when visiting friends in the area. Herman is a nice stopover. This route also connects two of the few remaining classic train stations. Check out Pierponts restaurant/ bar in KC station.
You reminded me how much I am going to miss Kansas City, the great barbecue at Gates and other restaurants, and our favorite Italian restaurant : Jaspers Marco Polo (tableside Mozzarella) near Overland Park. I grew up in Cincinnati, lived in Chicago, Indianapolic, and St. Louis but have to admit I like KC the best overall. Pierponts also has a nice bar to enjoy a glass of wine or good local microbrew while waiting for the train.
Gates is my favorite, and there is one, just up the street from the KCMO train station. It is close to the WW1 Museum. Pierponts is a great steak house. I am going to take that AMTRAK trip R/T, STL to/back KCMO, business class for under $100! A great way to spend a day, and enjoy some BBQ!
If you Amtrak into Chicago, is it easy to get to the 'L' system from the Amtrak station (probably a dumb question)?
Amtrak has so many wonderful routes. It's really a great way to see America. I didn't even realize that there was a southern route that stops in Kingman(!) Arizona, until Chris F. mentioned it. Now I know of about three. I think that Amtrak offers a line from Boston up to Portland that's supposed to have great scenery.
For a west coast tour, one can take the Amtrak from San Diego all the way up to Seattle (Mariners), stopping along the way in places like Irvine (for an Angels game), then Los Angeles (Dodgers), Santa Barbara, San Luis Obispo, Salinas (for Monterey Peninsula), Oakland (Jack London Square) for access to San Francisco (Giants), Sacramento (and it's wonderful train museum), and Portland. I think a great way to discover the west coast.
From the train station in Chicago, you have easy access to everything! There is even a "Free Trolley", just outside the station that will take you around.
Great idea on The West Coast trip along the The Pacific Ocean! That would be a wonderful way to relax.
You have the California Zephyr from Chicago via Denver to San Francisco! What an experience that would be!
Good luck with your "Train Collection" as well! The family will really enjoy that set-up during the Winter Holidays!
Yes, the California Zephyr, the Southwest Chief and the Texas Eagle (which goes through St. Louis) all lead to Chicago. I think my folks did the California Zephyr one year, and it turned out that living on the train wasn't their cup of tea (I did a sleeper car once from Paris to Venice, boy was that an experience!). I am wondering if a round trip ticket for these routes would include hop on, hop off privileges, so that if one preferred, one could sleep in a hotel if desired. I think that would be my preference. Can you imagine trying to shave on a train, especially on the top deck? Ha!
After doing the research for my "almost" trip to Chicago that was supposed to have happened last week (where Chris and Ann Marie were), I am really stoked about a Chicago visit now. It's high on my list. I wonder when the earliest in the year one can go without it being too cold there (like below 60)? And the category of the Renaissance there on the river (the one everyone seems to like) is remaining the same. Well, the truth is, I probably won't be doing much training until I retire and have more time. In the meantime, dream away.
A couple of things:
Early May would be a great time to visit Chicago!
The California Zephyr is expensive, especially if you get a "Sleeper"! I think it would be cheaper to fly. There is no "ON/OFF" availability on The California Zephyr. One should consider taking The Canadian Railway for this. They have a plan where you travel by day and stay in a hotel each night. The Canadian Rockies are especially beautiful this way!
Pluto, if you could arrange to travel by rails on a "Private Car"! This is the way to travel. There are a number of "Private train cars available!"
Here's a nice "Private car" for hire in Chicago!
This is the private car, a 1948 pullman, that I have taken to Marriott's in Chicago, Kansas City and Washington DC. It is inexpensive (R/T to WDC $600), and you can sleep on it, right in the "Heart of Town"! Not for everyone, only one shower, and it's pulled by AMTRAK! It is still a lot of fun, but really more so for guys!
To me, traveling by train provides a chance to unwind and enjoy America on my way to my destination. After having the stress of business travel for many years, I try to travel by train for at least one of our vacations each year. Seeing the country (without driving) is part of our travel enjoyment. I've been fortunate to combine train travel with several enjoyable Marriott and MVC vacations over the past several years.
CA Zephyr: Denver to Salt Lake City for our Marriott Mountainside weeks in Park City. Leaves Denver in am and gets into SLC late evening
Usually stay in Denver night before. Best scenery in the USA and doesn't require night on train.
Southwest Chief (primarily the route of the famous Santa Fe Superchief): We took this twice from Topeka (when we lived there) to Flagstaff for our week at Canyon Villas in Phoenix. Flagstaff is great location for Grand Canyon or Sedona. Marriott properties include Courtyard, Springhill Suites, and Fairfield Inn
Southwest Chief from San Bernardino to Topeka returning from a week at Shadow Ridge in Palm Desert.
Flew to Portland, ME for 5 nights at Wentworth by the Sea (last spring prior to the first of 2 MR category increases), took Downeaster from Portland to Boston for 3 nights at MVC Custom House, returned by train from Boston-Chicago-Kansas City.
This spring, we took the CA Zephry from Omaha to Martinez, CA for a wonderful stay at the Renaissance Club Sport in Walnut Creek.
Next year, we've already planned to take a train from Chicago to Portland (Empire Builder), connecting on the Coast Starlight to LA for our week at Newport Coast Villas.
Nothing is more relaxing than enjoying a good bottle of wine in our sleeper while watching the wonderful scenery of the USA go by. I highly recommend sleeping accommodations whenever traveling overnight. Roomettes are affordable and OK for one night trips, but I recommend a bedroom for longer ones. Keep in mind that roomettes/bedrooms include all meals for 2, and the food is actually pretty good (depending on the dining crew). Keep in mind that trains can have major delays (just like flying), so do not make time sensitive plans. We only experienced one delay over 2 hours during our trips, but major delays can occur due to flooding or rerouting.
I am very happy that I converted my Continental miles to Amtrak prior to the merger. I hate United Airlines, and am able to redeem my Amtrak points for free travel (20k for one way roomette for 2 from Chicago to West Coast). The service on Amtrak can vary by crew (after all it is a Govt agency), but most of my experiences have been very positive. I highly recommend travelling by train to really see the USA.
My biggest challenge now is that we are moving to Columbus, OH and there is no Amtrak service here. We will need to fly to Chicago to pick up trains there.
Wow, what a wonderful post and that's a lot of information, let me share some experiences with you:
I love Topeka, and was in the Kansas National Guard out of Holton, Kansas, about 30 miles North of Topeka. I still stay at Marriott Properties on the West side of Topeka! Been to almost every city in Kansas.
Great idea, taking the train to SLC from Denver, I love Park City, and have been staying at Summit Watch, but Mountainside is a beautiful property!
Want to go on both the Empire Builder and California Zephyr, but have not to date. Thanks for recommending how to handle multiple overnights!
Great idea to take your own vino on the train. I do it all the time and it is so relaxing to have your own snacks!
Thanks again for such wonderful information! Please let me know if your train rides get you to STL, would love to show you Union Station!
I highly recommend the CA Zephyr. The scenery from Chicago to Denver is pretty boring, so you can save time by flying to Denver. The scenery from Denver to SLC is spectacular, and you go through scenic Donner Pass if you travel to the bay area. If I fly to Denver, I like to stay at the Renaissance which is midway between the airport and downtown. They have complimentary limo service from the airport, and it is about a 15 minute taxi ride to downtown. The rates are usually much lower than the downtown hotels, but I don't think there are any platinum benefits on weekends. The train stops in Sacramento and Martinez is about a 15 minute taxi ride to Walnut Creek. I like this location because it is easily accessible to SF on BART and is only about 30 minute drive to Napa. You can rent a car at the Walnut Creek Hertz for the days that you need a car.
Excellent post. Thanks for the tip on bedrooms vs. roomettes, and that the meals are or at least can be included. I absolutely concur that train travel is a great way to unwind. I live about a 4-6 our drive from both sets of my folks, and I have always tried to take the Amtrak (as opposed to car) about every other trip when heading down for a visit. While it adds a couple of hours to the journey (transfers and such), it is so much less stressful than driving, and saves wear and tear on the car. When I used to go with the kids, Amtrak often had (still has?) kids ride free promotions, and even now with gas prices in recent years, it's actually less expensive than driving. And again, much more relaxing.
Hello! I have a couple of questions that you may be able to answer. If one were to spend a week in London, and hoped to take a couple of side trips to say Bath, Stratford-upon-Avon and Stonehenge, is it possible to do by train?
I may have answered one question. Looks like Stonehenge (80 miles from London) can be visited by train (London Waterloo to Salisbury, trains running every half hour.) From Salisbury, take a bus (or the Wilts and Stonehenge Tour Bus) or taxi the 10 miles to Stonehenge. Or the double decker Stonehenge Tour Bus picks up at the Salisbury train station and runs every 30 minutes and every hour. Getting There | Stone Henge
Do you know if there is a direct train from Stratford-upon-Avon to Bath (with no connections)?
Also, for Stratford-upon-Avon, would you recommend lodging in S-a-V or perhaps Birmingham, and for Bath, would you recommend lodging in Bath or Bristol (or Swindon)?
I am sure Arkwright of sg, will proved better details than I can, but I know you can take the train to each of these places. What I don't know is from what London Train Station. Will check it all out next week and provide information for you!
I hope the station is Waterloo. That is a short walk from C-H, and would really make it easier and less expensive!
Will let you know!
Jerry's correct. Let me try to fill in a few of the gaps, and respond to your related questions.
1. London to Bath: very regular service, taking approx 90 mins, from (London) Paddington Station. This takes the route of one of the most iconic of our train routes - created by Brunel in the 1840s, to link London and Bristol and later extended on to the West country.
2. London to Stratford upon Avon: again a good service, either from (London) Marylebone taking approx 2hrs or (London) Euston taking approx 2hrs 30 mins. I'd go for the former, partly because it is quicker, partly because Marylebone has been renovated recently and is good to use.
3. London to Stonehenge: you've already accessed a lot of the key data, but here's a link that might help too - http://www.stonehenge.co.uk/arrive.php#2.
4. Stratford to Bath: yes, but very lengthy and tortuous. You'd be routed via Birmingham and Bristol, changing at each stop.
Where to stay:
1. Stratford (for Stratford) - but prepare yourself for a very busy tourist location, with hotel prices to match. That said, I'd go a million miles to avoid staying in Birmingham. If you suspect "prejudice", you are totally correct:-)
2. Bristol (for Bath): first, it is a pleasant city itself; second, there are two Marriotts there, one of which - the Royal - I've always enjoyed; third, it is easy to access by train from Bristol.
A website I find very useful for sourcing and booking trains in UK is www.thetrainline.com
Hope this helps a little,
Thank you for you input. It's of great help. Regarding the torturous pilgrimage from Stratford to Bath, that's what I feared, but was hoping there might be some super-secret skinny regarding a direct line. I might have to re-think doing a circular (by train, anyway) of London, Stratford, Bath, Stonehenge and back, but it does look like we could easily train from London to Bristol/Bath, then down to Salisbury and back again, without hiring a car. It looks like there is a month (or year) of Sundays worth of places/things to explore just in and surrounding Bristol. I also noticed that there is a bike trail from Bristol to Bath. The train station shows being 1.2 miles from the Royal. I wonder if there might be lockers at the train station in Salisbury for caching luggage.
How about a trip from The County Hall in London via The Eurostar to The C-E in Paris? Now that is a lot of fun!
This is a view from the lounge at County Hall Marriott, London.
Leaving from St. Pancras on the Eurostar is memorable! Stay at the Renaissance there if you like!
I bring my own, but if you like enjoy the snack bar, on The Eurostar!
Paris is always wonderful to visit!
Enjoy the C-E with a friend! What a place!
thanks for sharing all these wonderful photos and info! I have taken the Eurostar from Paris to London in 1999, and have travelled a little by rail in Japan. I'd love to one day travel throughout the UK, France, Italy, Japan, US East Coast, maybe US West Coast, and definitely Canadian Rockies by rail! One day... I hope...