Now’s the time to book that overnight train ride.
If the idea of ditching the plane for a train ride across the United States appeals to you, now’s the time to book it. Amtrak is having a two-for-one sale through December 11, 2018, on its roomettes—the small private rooms that up to two people can sleep in each night—for travel between January 7 and May 23, 2019.
While Amtrak’s roomettes are a far cry from luxury train travel, they do have enough room for two seats facing each other that convert into a bed at night, with another bunk that folds down from the ceiling for the second guest. Roomette fares also include all meals in the dining car, access to hot showers, coffee and room service in the morning, and turn-down service in the evening. It may be a cozy way to travel, but it’s also one of the best ways to take in some of the most beautiful U.S. scenery without having to do any of the driving yourself.
Although the roomette sale is available on all Amtrak routes that offer overnight accommodations, including the Capitol Limited from Washington, D.C., to Chicago for as low as $275 and the City of New Orleans from Chicago to New Orleans for as low as $269, below are the overnight train journeys considered to be the most scenic in the nation, which you should consider if train travel is on your mind.
The Coast Starlight
This 35-hour journey from Seattle to Los Angeles has been called the most beautiful train ride in the United States—and for good reason. As you make your way from the Pacific Northwest to Southern California on the Coast Starlight, you pass through the Cascade Range, see Mount Shasta’s snow-capped peak, and take in mile after mile of the California coastline.
We found two-for-one fares in January 2019 for $378, making the one-way trip just $189 per person. Considering that also includes your accomodation for one night and your meals, it’s quite a deal.
The Empire Builder
If you’re looking to travel cross-country instead of down the coast, one-way fares are available on the Empire Builder between Portland and Chicago for just $448 for two people in February 2019. (Bonus: It’s one of our favorite winter train rides.)
As you make your way through the Columbia River Gorge and out of Oregon up to Spokane, Washington (this train also departs from Seattle), you’ll pass by Glacier National Park before crossing North Dakota’s plains. From there, you’ll get fantastic views of the Mississippi River and the Minneapolis skyline before reaching your destination in Chicago.
We found fares from Chicago to the San Francisco Bay Area for just $490 on the California Zephyr for two people in April 2019.
You could make the same journey by plane in under five hours, but the California Zephyr lets you experience the plains of Iowa and Nebraska before heading up into the Rockies and crossing over the Sierra Nevada before arriving in Emeryville, California, just across the bay from San Francisco.
This article originally appeared online in June 2018; it was updated on December 4, 2018, to include current information.