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Posted 18 January 2018 - 05:38 PM

The Cardinal is also a good option. It has spectacular scenery and goes via DC, so there is more flexibility for a stopover than with the Capitol. Taking the latter, the only logical stopover is D.C. (unless you want to change trains twice). With the Cardinal, you can take it non-stop or you have the option of stopping in any city between Alexandria and NY, as those offer transfers to the Regional.

It also bears noting that the OP can change their trip whenever they want, at no charge (other than any price difference). So if you change your mind about the preferred route, you can always change your ticket.


Posted 14 January 2018 - 10:18 PM

Let us know how it turns out. We all enjoy trying to help people, and feedback lets us know if our ideas are helpful. Lots of different people with different viewpoints, but that's why this is worthwhile. If someone wants a robotic response, they can always "ask Julie"

Posted 14 January 2018 - 06:53 PM

Thanks everyone for such a great set of ideas on what to do.  Chatting now with my son and making exciting plans for our trip.




Posted 13 January 2018 - 07:35 AM

Whichever route is taken, I am sure it will be an interesting experience for you both.


Train seats are very comfortable, much more leg room compared to plane seats.  You can walk around, and see new things outside your window.


It will give your son a chance to see a little of America away from the highways, and a chance to travel the way America did in the old days.




Posted 12 January 2018 - 01:01 AM



The Capitol's route is very scenic also, IMO!




And what exactly is the scenery along the route to look for?


The Youghiogheny River valley, Allegheny Mountains, and Potomac River valley offer great sightseeing, especially in winter with no leaves on the trees blocking the view.

Philly Amtrak Fan

Posted 11 January 2018 - 05:26 PM


The Capitol's route is very scenic also, IMO!




And what exactly is the scenery along the route to look for?

Bob Dylan

Posted 11 January 2018 - 04:28 PM

The Capitol's route is very scenic also, IMO!


And generally the Crews are friendlier, and the Food is Better!YMMV


Posted 11 January 2018 - 02:55 PM

Plus assuming the train is on time (again, snickers from AU regulars) you have to wait in WAS for two hours which is long enough to be annoying but not long enough to visit the city.


Two hours is enough time to see one sight or do a quick loop on the DC Circulator. If a roomette is booked, access to the Acela Lounge is included, which does have bag storage that I'd be comfortable with for non-valuable items (it's not under lock-and-key, but it's only accessible to those in the Acela Lounge.) Across the street is the National Postal Museum, which could comfortably be seen in an hour or so. The National Mall route on the DC Circulator costs $1/person and goes by most of the major attractions, and if they happen to have the SmarTrip card (previous visit to DC, maybe) you can hop on/hop off for 2 hours for no additional charge. Otherwise you'll have to pay $1 every time you hop on, but even with a stop or two that's only a few bucks.


Sure, you're not going to see the whole town in a couple hours, but there's definitely enough time to get a small taste of the city. There's also the option of using the multi-city option to book segment one as CHI - WAS and then segment 2 as WAS - NYP (or their ending station) and picking a later time if they want to fit in more of the city/lengthen their layover a bit. As long as the scheduled layover time is less than 23.5 hours (or so, it's either 23 or 23.5) the system will still give the deeply discounted rate on the connecting Regional train (only Regionals have the deeply discounted fare when connecting from a LD train, not the Acelas.)

Rail Freak

Posted 11 January 2018 - 02:50 PM

The Capitol's route is very scenic also, IMO! 


Posted 11 January 2018 - 02:28 PM

Personally, I'd take whatever train is the least expensive that includes a roomette on the overnight portion. Usually that's the Capitol Limited with a transfer to the Northeast Regional, but not always. Each train has its plusses and minuses, but I don't think any train has enough one way or the other for me to feel strongly one way or the other on it. I've actually never taken the Capitol Limited myself, but I plan to this year. I've enjoyed both the Cardinal and the Lake Shore Limited, and most people have enjoyed the Capitol, so I'd just do whatever's least expensive for your first trip. :)


One other advantage to the Capitol Limited (and the Cardinal to some extent): if your destination is closer/easier to get to from another Amtrak station, the Capitol Limited will transfer to the Northeast Regional that gets you there, and the arrival time will typically be quite a bit sooner than what the Lake Shore Limited has (Amtrak's transfer policy winds up kicking people to the 9:30 PM Regional train out of NY, whereas the transfer in DC is usually to either the 3 or 4 PM train, so you're arriving around 6-7 PM instead of 10-11 PM.) The Cardinal does also stop at a couple of the New Jersey stops, so that's an option.


One other thing to note: the Lake Shore Limited leaves Chicago at 9:30 PM, which means that there's not a whole lot of time to settle into the room before going to sleep (at least for me.) I'm looking forward to having some time to settle into the room on the Capitol Limited before having to go to sleep (it leaves at 6:40 PM, I believe,) as I think that will feel more relaxing.

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