Washington DC's Union Station, on a beautiful Saturday afternoon in May 2012.  This photo was taken on National Train Day.
Washington DC’s Union Station, on a beautiful Saturday afternoon in May 2012. This photo was taken on National Train Day.

I have been on many train trips in the past.  My Amtrak travels have taken me to and from many great places.  I’ve traveled on the Empire Service to Niagara Falls on the old Turboliner.  I have traveled aboard the Broadway Limited, the Northeast Regional service, the Metroliner, the San Diegan, the Acela Express, and the Vermonter.  I’ve even traveled as far south as Williamsburg, Virginia. There is one kind of trip I have always wanted to take.  I have always wanted to travel coast to coast, and back.  Hey, why not?

My trip would start at New York Penn Station.  From New York, I will take the Lake Shore Limited to Chicago via Albany, NY.  My train will depart Penn Station, and head up to Albany.  In Albany, the New York and Boston trains are joined together.  From there, I will continue my overnight journey to Chicago.

The next morning, the train arrives at Chicago Union Station.  Once off the Lake Shore Limited, it’s time to enjoy the city.  I will ride the L, stroll along the lake front, and visit the most famous skyscraper of all, the Willis Tower (f.k.a. Sears Tower).  Fifteen hundred and fifty-three feet above the city, I will try my nerves to stand in the Sky Box, the new glass feature they added to the Sky Deck.  There, you feel like you’re standing in mid-air above the city.

My next stop in Chicago is to visit my favorite sports arena, the United Center, home to my Chicago Bulls.  While I’m there, I will go to the box office to get seats for a game on the day I arrive  later in the week.  After visiting the United Center, I will move on to Michael Jordan’s Restaurant.  There I will have lunch, and mingle with fellow Bulls fans.  Then, it’s time to head back to Chicago Union Station, and wait until train time.

At the conclusion of the day, I will board my next train, the Southwest Chief, bound for Los Angeles.  It’s a two-night trip to Los Angeles, crossing the farmlands and dessert terrain.  While in Los Angeles, I will stay overnight and buy a ticket to a Kings or Lakers game at the Staples Center.  At some point, I will go to Hollywood and visit the famous Chinese Theater.  I’ve seen the one at  Disney’s Hollywood Studios in Florida.  It’s even more exciting to see the real thing. It will then be time to head back to Union Station, and continue my journey.

At Union Station, I will board my next train.  I will then board the Coast Starlight en route to Seattle.  This is definitely a train ride not to forget.  Traveling along side the Pacific Ocean would sure be an incredible experience.  The next morning, I will arrive at Seattle’s King Street Station.  There I will spend the whole day dining out a local restaurant and doing some sightseeing.  Later, it’s  time to head back to King Street Station.  It’s back on board to head back east!

My return trip home has begun.  At this point, I will be on board Amtrak’s Empire Builder, en route to Chicago.  This route I heard is absolutely incredible.  Speeding along, being surrounded by nothing but wilderness would be awesome.  The scenery would be nothing shy of splendid.  Two days later, the train will arrive at Chicago’s Union Station.  In Chicago, I will spend the night in a hotel nearby.  Once settled in my hotel room, I will go to the United Center to catch the Bulls game.  The United Center is always a fun arena to visit.  Chicago loves its Bulls.  Finally, it is then time to rest up and be ready to hit the second leg of my journey home.

Amtrak's Northeast Regional train #95, en route to Newport News, VA, arrives at Newark Penn Station on a brisk April morning.
Amtrak’s Northeast Regional train #95, en route to Newport News, VA, arrives at Newark Penn Station on a brisk April morning.

The second part of my journey home takes me to Washington, DC on board the Capitol Limited.  The train will travel southeast through Indiana, Kentucky, West Virginia, and through western Maryland.  On this leg of the trip, just like the Empire Builder, the train will be passing through the majestic mountain ranges, past crystal clear rivers, and some of the most picturesque scenery I’ve ever seen before.  The next morning, the train will arrive at the beautiful Union Station in Washington, DC.  Washington DC’s Union Station is my favorite railroad terminal of all.  Besides it being a busy train station, I love the mall inside.  I may be from New Jersey, but it’s one place where I definitely would love to spend a day Christmas shopping.  When done meandering around the station, it’s time for me to head home.  My last leg of my journey is about to begin.

All fun trips have to come to an end.  It’s time to finish the journey.  I will be traveling on board the Acela Express.  I’ve taken this train twice in the past.  That baby really covers some ground!  The Acela travels up to 150 mph.  On the way north to Newark, NJ the train races along like a speeding bullet.  The train will then cross the majestic Gunpowder, Bush, Susquehanna, and Delaware Rivers.  A short time later, my train will arrive at Newark Penn Station.  At Newark, I’ll get off the train and wait.  Ever since I was little, I always waved to the engineer as the train departed.  Once the rear unit of the train pulls past me, I’ll head towards the stairs.  Suddenly, I will hear the announcement that the next Northeast Regional train to Washington, DC will be arriving shortly.  Do you know what I was thinking?  I felt like turning around and doing the whole trip all over again.

After watching the Northeast Regional train arrive, I will wait a few minutes for that train to leave.  There’s an aura to watching passenger trains.  Even when my trip is over, I can never get enough of the action.  When the train finally slips out of the station, I will head on downstairs.  I will then walk out the station exit door and I find my family waiting to pick me up.  When they asked me how my nine day cross-country trip on the rails went, I said, “I so want to do that again. How many Guest Rewards points do I have?”.


About Author

David Kriso has been a travel writer since August 2011. He is a contributing writer for both of his hometown's newspapers, The Gazette, and The Observer. His articles focus on cruise and railroad travel. David is also published online at ProwsEdge.com, a cruise magazine based in Vancouver, Canada and at Amtrak's story site, Whistlestop.Amtrak.com. David also writes for the publication Examiner.com. On Examiner.com, he writes about cruise and rail travel. David is a long-time train traveler, avid cruiser, and a Disney traveler since age 4.

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