The railways are viewed as a means of transportation, not a destination. The train ride is either the beginning of the trip or the end. Millions of people use trains to commute and to travel each year. However, fewer train riders experience the train ride as the vacation. In the USA, scenic train vacations blend history, nature and leisure (and sometimes a little drama) to provide a relaxing and unique vacation.
The Amtrak trains are an example of a train system used to transport between destinations. It is rarely seen as a way to spend one’s vacation. In truth, Amtrak has several eclectically named routes that crisscross the USA. For example, the California Zephyr routes it way from Chicago at the base of Lake Michigan through the Great Plains and Rockies to San Francisco on the Pacific Ocean.
The Amtrak trains are routed through scenic trails, passes and back country that is inaccessible by car. The Southwest Chief, Capitol Limited and Coast Starlight are other famous train routes, according to Amtrak. The fully staffed dining car and accommodations like sleeping berths, roomettes that sleep two and bedroom suites for four make the vacations comfortable for everyone.
American Rail Excursions
Their slogan is “Specializing in nostalgic North American private rail tours”. With their vintage trains, reinstated from their retirement by commuter services like Amtrak, is the nostalgia. The American Railways Excursions considers them hotels on the rails with a five star chef creating meals, a nightclub on board and an observation deck that allows for views of the scenic American byways, mountains, valleys, rivers and plains.
The trips are all themed. The Cherry Blossom Tour, for example, travels from St. Louis to Chicago to Washington D.C. and back again. The tour runs in April, giving passengers an opportunity to witness America in bloom. The eight-day trip is a vacation for those onboard.
American Rail Excursions Inc.
1701 Sauk Trail
Sauk Village, IL 60411-4955
The Mystery Dinner Train Getaway
This tour combines a scenic tour through the Smoky Mountains in North Carolina with a dramatic murder mystery, dinner, and lodgings off the train. The performance is a murder mystery that is interactive for passengers. Actors put on the show from the murder discovery to its solution. This tour is like several others that collaborate with local hotels to bring passengers a short trip, overnight stay (up to five nights on the Mystery Dinner Train Getaway) and a return trip to the depot. The trip is all-inclusive, with taxes and gratuities also factored in.
Charleston Inn B&B
208 Arlington Ave.
Bryson City, NC 28713