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  • Skyline of Los Angeles, California
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    Starting Point: Los Angeles, California

  • Walking through the desert in Tucson, Arizona
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    Experience the Southwest in Tucson, Arizona

  • Railway train at the station in El Paso, Texas
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    Stretch Your Legs in El Paso, Texas

  • Buildings along the River Walk in San Antonio, Texas
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    Missions and More in San Antonio, Texas

  • Jazz band on Jackson Square in New Orleans, Louisiana
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    Scenic Journey through New Orleans, Louisiana

  • Old vending machines in the Coca-Cola Museum in Atlanta, Georgia
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    Passing through Atlanta, Georgia

  • Capitol Building fountain in Washington, D.C.
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    End of the Line: Washington, D.C.

Railway through Western Louisiana
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Coast to Coast by Rail

By Miriam B. Weiner

  • Route distance:
    4828.00 km
  • Suggested Time:
    1-2 weeks

Peaceful and scenic train ride to take in the USA’s majestic vistas without stepping foot in car

The United States has a robust train rail system that traverses the country, transporting travelers directly to the hearts of major cities from coast to coast. Onboard amenities like complimentary Wi-Fi and sleeping and dining cars make these rides convenient and comfortable. Here’s just one of the transcontinental train trips that you can take – or customize your own with Amtrak, the national passenger rail company.

01
Skyline of Los Angeles, California
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People and palm trees on the coast of Los Angeles, California
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Interior of Union Station in Los Angeles, California
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Starting Point: Los Angeles, California

Start your cross-country journey in Los Angeles after flying into Los Angeles International Airport. Before hitting the rails, devote a few days to exploring the city billed as the “entertainment capital of the world.” The City of Angels, as it's also nicknamed, brims with stars and icons of the entertainment industry. Spend the day touring sites such as the Hollywood Walk of Fame, TCL Chinese Theatre, L.A. Live and the Grammy Museum. Be sure to stop at Griffith Park, where you can hike in the shadows of the iconic Hollywood sign. There’s also more to Los Angeles than Hollywood. Unwind before your cross-country trip by spending a few hours on the beach, perusing the funky shops of Venice Beach or riding the roller coaster at the Santa Monica Pier. Come sundown, mingle with the city’s most fashionable locals and visitors at the Standard Hotel’s rooftop pool and bar.

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785 km
9 hours by train
02
Walking through the desert in Tucson, Arizona
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Riding the train through Tucson, Arizona
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Experience the Southwest in Tucson, Arizona

When you are ready to go, pick up a ticket for Amtrak’s Texas Eagle line and hop on at Union Station. A good first stop is in TucsonArizona, located roughly halfway between L.A. and San Antonio. This Arizona city hosts a unique blend of Mexican and Native American cultural influences, and is an ideal spot for those who love the outdoors – don't miss nearby Saguaro National Park. Work up an appetite with a horseback ride or hike before sampling the state’s Southwestern-style cooking. 

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508 km
6 hours by train
03
Railway train at the station in El Paso, Texas
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Stretch Your Legs in El Paso, Texas

Hop off the train in El Paso, Texas to sample the city’s trademark fusion of American and Mexican cultures. Combine adventure and history by hiking the hills of Hueco Tank State Park to view the ancient pictographs left on the rock faces. In town, check out a host of options for al fresco dining, art galleries, museums and vineyards.

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887 km
12 hours by train
04
Buildings along the River Walk in San Antonio, Texas
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Missions and More in San Antonio, Texas

Next stop: San Antonio, Texas. This long train ride will afford amazing views of the colorful Southwestern landscape. Once the train pulls into central San Antonio, you’ll instantly get a taste of the city’s unique flair and blend of cultures. This scenic southern Texas city is home to one of the USA’s most famous historic landmarks: the Alamo, the Franciscan mission where the legendary battle took place in 1836. When you’ve had your fill of history, enjoy a refreshing margarita at one of the many Tex-Mex restaurants lining the undulating River Walk, also home to shops, hotels, restaurants and river views. Make time for a side trip to nearby Austin.

875 km
15 hours by train
05
Jazz band on Jackson Square in New Orleans, Louisiana
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Scenic Journey through New Orleans, Louisiana

Hop back onto the train east to New OrleansLouisiana (the ride features beautiful views of the Gulf of Mexico coastline and Louisiana’s bayous). The Big Easy, as New Orleans is known, grooves to the sweet sounds of jazz at all hours of the day and night. Walk through historic Jackson Square or the iconic French Quarter and you’re bound to encounter a set of musicians entertaining the crowd. Enjoy the music with an iconic beignet at Café du Monde or with a top-shelf cocktail at Maison Bourbon jazz club.

755 km
12 hours by train
06
Old vending machines in the Coca-Cola Museum in Atlanta, Georgia
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Passing through Atlanta, Georgia

An 11½-hour ride from New Orleans northeast through the Alabama countryside will land you in busy, bustling AtlantaGeorgia. This Southeastern city preserves a significant portion of the USA’s civil rights history. Pay a visit to the Martin Luther King Jr. National Historic Site, where you’ll learn all about the civil rights leader’s efforts to secure equality for blacks in the U.S. Take a tour of the World of Coca-Cola to learn about one of the most popular beverages in the world. Also devote some time to exploring the Atlanta Botanical Garden or scenic Woodruff Park.

1028 km
14 hours by train
07
Capitol Building fountain in Washington, D.C.
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End of the Line: Washington, D.C.

Washington, D.C. is a nearly 14-hour train ride from Atlanta through the rolling mountains and verdant forests of Georgia, North Carolina and Virginia. The U.S. capital impresses with its world-class Smithsonian museums and picturesque monuments around the National Mall – all of which can be enjoyed for free. Washington, D.C., is also home to a thriving food scene (experience a taste of it at the trendy Union Market), plenty of shopping, historic attractions and exciting nightlife. Take a short drive or a gorgeous waterfront bike ride south of the city to beautiful Mount Vernon, residence of the first American president, George Washington. From Washington, D.C., you can hop a flight home or continue your train journey from Union Station to other East Coast destinations like New York City; Baltimore, Maryland; and PhiladelphiaPennsylvania.