When you think of traveling via train, your mind instantly goes to Europe. In one day, you can travel by rail and see several countries, and it doesn’t cost an arm and a leg. In fact, you can see more than two dozen countries in Europe for around $300, making it a massive bargain. In North America, however, and the United States specifically, traveling is done mostly by vehicle or airplane rather than a train.
One of the biggest reasons why passenger cars aren’t more popular in the United States is that most of the rails are owned by freight companies, making it difficult to schedule passenger cars without being a logistical nightmare or constructing a whole new set of rails. Still, there are some places in the United States that you can reach by train rather easily, with these five being the top spots.
New York City
New York City is the largest and most popular city in the United States, and one of the easiest to get to when traveling by car or plane. Therefore, it shouldn’t come as much of a surprise to know that getting there by train isn’t too difficult, either. New York City is easily reachable from other major hubs in America’s northeast, and the local rail scene makes it so that you don’t need a taxi to get around.
The Big Apple has the largest local rail system in the country, and it isn’t even close. More than 2.7 billion (yes, billion) people ride the rails of the New York City Transit Authority each year, which offers around 250 miles in track length. With nearly 500 stations, you can visit Yankee Stadium, Times Square, the Statue of Liberty, and more all easily within the same day.
Outside of New York City, perhaps the only other city where you could get away with absolutely never needing to drive a car in your life is Chicago. Chicago offers the third-largest local rapid transit system in the country with over 218 million riders per year and over 100 miles of track that take you from airport to airport and baseball stadium to baseball stadium.
Getting to Chicago via train isn’t all that hard, either, as pretty much every railroad eventually leads to Chicago. Outside of New York, it’s one of the biggest hub cities for rail transportation, serving as the midwest’s de facto train capital. Whether you’re coming from Detroit, St. Louis, or Milwaukee, any long train trip will connect through Chicago.
The Pacific Northwest is a bit of an outlier when it comes to any sort of travel in the United States as it serves as basically the only major hub of travel in the area. Whether you’re in Southern California or in Minneapolis, there’s a railway that leads to Seattle.
It can be a bit tricky to get there if you’re heading from the southwest as you have to make your way to Sacramento to get to the northbound train that heads to Seattle, but you’ll be glad that you made the trip. You’ll also get to stop in beautiful Portland, Oregon along the way to spice up the deal.
The nation’s capital is known for gridlock traffic from outsiders, but it should get a lot more praise for its public transport. Washington D.C. offers some of the best in the country, allowing those that live in the city the opportunity to get anywhere without needing to get stuck in some of the nation’s worst traffic jams.
Even getting to Washington D.C. is easy as it serves as the major hub of the east coast for national travel. Cincinnati, Jacksonville, Atlanta, Cleveland, Philadelphia, and more all make their way to D.C. so you don’t have to fly.
Cleveland, Ohio is a fantastic city that serves as the connector for railways that are heading from the Atlantic coast to the Chicago hub. Washington D.C., Boston, Albany, and Pittsburgh connect from the east while Chicago feeds in from the west.
Though the local rail system isn’t one that gets a lot of love from around the world, it’s still one of the largest (ranking in the top 15). Starting at the Airport, you can travel by train to landmarks including the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.