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Discussion in 'Guest Forum for Amtrak Questions' started by Gavin Ross, May 3, 2019.

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  1. May 3, 2019 #1
    I am Planning a trip from the SF Bay Area to Miami, taking Amtrak there then flying home. I have 3 travel options, which both get me there on the same date. I am doing sleeper class either way, in a roomette, as well as taking Silver meteor (Train 97) because I would like to have the full diner. Cost is not a factor, or the amount of transfers. I am really looking for the most scenic route. Which routing should I do? The Itineraries are as follows

    First option:
    - Emeryville, CA to Chicago, IL (6 California Zephyr)
    - Chicago, IL to Washington, DC (30 Capitol Limited)
    - Washington, DC to Hollywood, FL (97 Silver Meteor)

    Second Option:
    - Emeryville, CA to Los Angeles, CA (11 Coast Starlight)
    - Los Angeles, CA to Chicago, IL (4 Southwest Chief)
    - Chicago, IL to New York, NY (49 Lake Shore Limited)
    - New York, NY to Hollywood, FL (97 Silver Meteor)

    Third Option:
    - Emeryville, CA to Portland, OR (14 Coast Starlight)
    - Portland, OR to Chicago, IL (28 Empire Builder)
    - Chicago, IL to Washington, DC Or New York, NY (50 Cardinal)
    - Washington, DC or New York, NY (97 Silver Meteor)
     
  2. May 3, 2019 #2
     
  3. May 3, 2019 #3

    bratkinson

    bratkinson

    bratkinson

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    Best scenery? I would definitely go with option 3.

    However, making a same-day connection from #14 to #28 is about 50% from my own observations, so I'd book a hotel there.

    And connecting from #8/28 to #50 is really 'iffy', based on past experience and observation. An overnight in Chicago is highly recommended for that connection.

    And the connection to the Meteor in WAS from the Cardinal...another 'iffy' connection in my book as well.

    The big advantage of spending time in each city is you get to do some 'touristing'. Or, if you're like me, joyride the commuter/light rail/street car/subway lines. All 3 cities have fantastic mass transit systems. The other advantage is not 'sweating bullets' about making a connection, or, worse, missing it and end up riding coach on the next days' train, screwing everything up thereafter.
     
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  4. May 3, 2019 #4

    Philly Amtrak Fan

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    Philly Amtrak Fan

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    The best scenery I've experienced is on the California Zephyr.
     
  5. May 3, 2019 #5

    Rail Freak

    Rail Freak

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    I've taken all these options. If this is a 1st time experience, I'd take Zephyr / Capitol Limited Option. It's scenic & safe connection to the Meteor. The only negative is the Boxed Meals on the CL!
    Have Fun
     
    Last edited: May 3, 2019
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  6. May 3, 2019 #6

    Rasputin

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    I would say that they are all good options although with option 1 and 2 I would try to take the Cardinal east from Chicago instead of the Capitol or the Lake Shore.

    I think the scenery would be best on the Zephyr but you would have a great variety of scenery on Option 2 and 3.
     
  7. May 3, 2019 #7

    Dakota 400

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    Dakota 400

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    I support this gentleman's suggestions. Breaking up one's rail journey by a day or two between connections helps to make the train trip more enjoyable for me. Also, not having to worry about "tight connections" prevents stress when "just traveling" by any mode of transportation can cause stress.
     
  8. May 27, 2019 #8

    Gary Behling

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    Gary Behling

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    Without a doubt---Option 3---- BUT---substitute the part where you go to Chicago on The Empire Builder via The Coast Starlight and take the California Zephyr directly to Chicago instead. Always consider a hotel stay at each connection to compensate for late train arrival. North of Emeryville, the Coast Starlight does not hug the coast and there are no views of the Pacific Ocean
     
    Last edited: May 27, 2019
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  9. May 27, 2019 #9

    junebug

    junebug

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    That's a toughie. The Coast Starlight for about 4 hours hugs the ocean in California. Spectacular. But that's before San Francisco. The rest of the trip once it goes inland isn't that exciting. As everyone said, the California Zephyr is breathtaking. It would be great if you could go one way there and a different way back. If you could, I'd take the Southwest Chief to L.A., then the Coast Starlight back up the California coast. The Empire Builder is one of my least favorite routes.
     
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  10. May 27, 2019 #10

    Dakota 400

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    Dakota 400

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    If you would try this route in the Winter leaving from Seattle, with rain changing to snow as the train ascended into the Cascades, snow falling through the night, and the snow reaching Glacier National Park the next morning, you might change your mind. The scenery was magnificently beautiful!
     
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  11. May 28, 2019 #11

    caravanman

    caravanman

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    The best scenery is seen from the Zephyr, between California and Denver. Just superb! Although I live in the UK, I have ridden most of the long distance trains in America, and have no doubts about the best one.
    All the trains have interesting sights, but the views down from the train windows passing through the mountains are fabulous, and the views up to the cliffs and mountains as you travel through the river valleys are stunning too.
    No contest, that's why I have taken the Zephyr at least half a dozen times, over the years!

    Ed.
     
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  12. Jun 1, 2019 #12

    junebug

    junebug

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    That sounds very nice. I did Seattle to Glacier National Park in the summer. I wasn't too impressed. And brrr, I am glad I brought a warm jacket! The park was gorgeous. After a couple of days there, I took the Empire Builder from Glacier National Park to Chicago I think it was pretty much at night. It sounds like it would be lovely in the winter!
     
  13. Jun 2, 2019 #13

    FreeskierInVT

    FreeskierInVT

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    I echo the suggestions to take the California Zephyr, which has a bit of a leg up over the Empire Builder and Southwest Chief in terms of scenery.

    I might suggest flying to LA and taking the northbound Coast Starlight back up to the San Francisco area; the run along the coast on that section of the route is absolutely breathtaking.
     
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  14. Jun 3, 2019 #14

    crescent-zephyr

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    crescent-zephyr

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    I've personally taken the Zephyr and the Starlight / Builder connection (both the same day connection in Portland and the overnight in Seattle) multiple times. The Zephyr is by far the best scenery I've ever seen on a Long Distance train. I personally think it's better than the Canadian but I know many disagree with me. So my vote is definitely for the Zephyr.

    I wouldn't worry too much about an Amtrak Guaranteed Connection... I've never missed one and have even made some super tight non-guaranteed connections in Chicago and DC. Anything can happen to alter your travel plans with any mode of transit so be prepared with an alternate plan either way...
     

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