To Do: Ride the Train

To Do: Ride the Train

I get a tiny bit of time off between jobs and it coordinates with a friend’s baby shower down south. So I’ve booked a ticket on the Coast Starlight.

In my mind, this is going to be amazing. A dining car with white tablecloths, atrium observation car, plenty of time to read and relax. I might just wear a tweed suit. Ah, rail travel.

I’m putting the very real chance for catastrophic delays – with which I have had personal experience – out of my mind. (Note to Amtrak‘s PR team: I’ll gladly tell you exactly when I’ll be riding if you’d like to pull some strings in my favor.)

Have you traveled by train recently?

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There are 17 comments for this article
  1. Jill at 11:29 pm

    Yes! I took Amtrak from Seattle to Bellingham. It was perfectly relaxing with gorgeous views of the Puget Sound! My husband and I enjoyed a picnic of crackers and cheese, avocado, strawberries and wine. Have a great time!!!

  2. Picky at 12:22 am

    Yep, I used to take the train between Boston and NYC pretty regularly. It was great — super easy (no security lines or checking baggage) and there was tons of space to spread out and work on projects. I loved it.

  3. PiGGieSandCoW at 3:30 am

    I have never taken a train before but I always have visions of elegant ladies in chanel suits dancing in my head!

  4. AEO at 1:54 pm

    One of my lifetime goals is to ride the train across Canada from coast to coast. I've seen a PBS show about it and it looked wonderful. I think you will have a great time!! Enjoy the scenery and the time spent reading- that extra time will be pure joy!

  5. Anne at 2:09 pm

    We just did an historic train ride for fun over the weekend.
    Hopefully soon we will have the option of rail travel in Columbus. It will be wonderful!

  6. Barbara C. at 2:29 pm

    Taking my two boys from Chicago to DC this summer, then the train to NYC, then the train to Boston. They will LOVE the train . . . so much to see and a whole car with snacks!

  7. L. at 2:55 pm

    Emily, have a BLAST. I love train travel, and I take Amtrak all the time between Portland and Seattle. But one of the last times I did, we were stuck on the tracks for nearly six hours, an hour or so away from Seattle. But it wasn't awful – just (I'm going to sound like a mom, but it was advice I was glad I headed) excuse yourself to the lav THE MINUTE a delay is announced, and then either book it to the dining car or make sure you have your own (emergency) food and water on board – our dining car ran out of food an hour or so in, then the Snack Packs they brought around ran out, and it was just a scene of famine. Or people were just cranky about missing out on free food.

    Have a blast, and I can't wait to read your recap – and Amtrak, hook Emily up! She is influential in the very best of ways.

  8. Amanda at 4:13 pm

    I got to take the Ski Train to the mountains last winter when I was living in Denver. *Heaven*

  9. Anonymous at 4:55 pm

    Did you see that "Sex and the City" episode where Carrie and Samantha took the train from NY to SF? They had the same kind of vision as you and it turned out very differently. Haha, your post reminded me of that.

    Have a good trip!

  10. Heather at 6:41 pm

    I'm dying to hear about your new job!!

  11. Maija at 7:12 pm

    Like L, I am also a veteran of the Portland-to-Seattle Amtrak (and stops in between, plus sometimes the extra leg north to Bellingham & a few times south to Eugene).

    I am a big Amtrak fan. I have been car-free for 8 years, so for out of town trips, I either take the train or rent a car. The train is my favorite option – it's so much classier and pleasant than Greyhound buses, obviously. And, unlike driving, I feel like my time is much better spent – I can sew or read or watch the movie or listen to podcasts, and so on. Driving – that's all you can do. And, on the train, you can dine!

    Ditto on the possible delays – then again, driving, you never know when you'll hit traffic or an accident. Just be prepared, which I believe you always would be. Bring a trashy magazine, as well as a few good books. They usually have outlets, so you can plug in a laptop or cell phone. Oh, and you usually meet really cool people on the train, too.

    I look forward to hearing about it!

  12. Emily W at 8:42 pm

    I am taking a fabulous train trip through Alaska next week!
    Please do a train inspired What to Wear! And have a blast!

  13. Anonymous at 5:01 pm

    I traveled from Raleigh to Washington, DC earlier this spring. I packed several good books I'd been meaning to read and a picnic basket of goodies to stow under my seat. It was so relaxing not having to worry about traffic, super-cramped seats, or security strip searches, and I got to chat with a very cute Irish exchange student the whole way back. 😉 Have a super trip!

  14. foobella at 7:54 pm

    Last August I took a 9 hour train ride from Southeastern Virginia to NYC. First time ever on an Amtrak. I had to much fun. It was so relaxing. The seats were sooo roomy and there was so much leg space that I hate the thought of ever getting on a plane again. To this day, I have never gotten out of my seat on a plane ride, even going cross country. I just can't do it! lol. Have to stay in my seat.

    Alas, there was no luxurious dining car with white table cloths. But the little cafe was too cute and just being able to walk up and down the roomy aisles and use the roomy lavatory was a joy. Did I mention how roomy the train was???

  15. VirtualVivian at 12:22 pm

    If you're into retro train stylings, you've got to check out VIA Rail's "Canadian" next! Enjoy your trip.

  16. Gretchen at 5:30 pm

    I took the Coastal Starlight about 3 yers back. Maybe 4. They had an awesome promotion for it so I took it from Seattle to San Fran with a friend. It wasn't tweed suits or table cloths. It was more like moving at 5 mph the entire trip, going to the snack shop for twinkies, hanging out in the observation car at 2am with Mr. & Ms. Mullet sharing cans of budwiser. It was an interesting trip. We moved so slowly through one of the wooded areas that we scared two deer trying to take a piss. They just stared at us.

    Too funny. I loved it though. Pack some good reads, snacks and if you can a bollywood film. And an open mind!