A coast to coast train trip from New York to San Francisco is quite popular among the adventurers who want to explore the pleasurable, relaxed, and scenic 3,000-mile route by train. On a train trip to San Francisco, you will be treated to the sight of shimmering lakes, majestic mountains, green fields as far as the eye can see, bustling cities, and sleepy towns—all the best parts of the great American landscape. Train Routes – New York to San Francisco There isn’t one single train route that goes straight to San Francisco from New York. Instead, it usually involves boarding an Amtrak train from Penn Station in New York—ones that ply the Cardinal or Lake Shore Limited routes, for example—then riding between 19 to 28 hours to Chicago’s Union Station. From Chicago, it’s a 52-hour ride to Emeryville, California, where a connecting bus will take you to San Francisco. The routes pass through several cities and towns that are home to some of the country’s historic and cultural attractions. Most travelers choose to make stops at Chicago, Washington DC, or Denver to explore the amazing attractions, sights and sounds, and things to do that these places have to offer. If you also intend to take a single or multi-stop journey from NYC to San Francisco then it is best to book separate tickets. Travegeo recommends at least a day-tour to explore each of these cities. While an overnight stay is recommended, do check the availability of the trains for onward journey to San Francisco the next day. Also, do not forget to book the accommodation in advance if you plan to stay overnight. New York to Chicago on Lake Shore Limited On this route, you will leave the Big Apple in the early afternoon and arrive in Chicago the next morning. Aptly named, it travels near the Great Lakes and Finger Lakes as well as the iconic Erie Canal’s locks. The mountains, orchards, and fields of the Berkshires and the shores of Lake Michigan are also some of the other sights you’ll be seeing outside the window. Two of the major stops on this daily route include:
- Buffalo, New York – The state’s second-largest city, Buffalo offers plenty of things to see and do. You can take the kids to see exotic and endangered wildlife at the Buffalo Zoo, marvel at ships, tanks, and aircraft at Buffalo Naval Park, or catch a waterfront concert at Canalside.
- Cleveland, Ohio – You don’t need to go far from the Cleveland Train Station to visit some of the city’s attractions. A short walk from the station will lead you to the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame museum, where you can spend hours amongst memorabilia associated with legends like the Rolling Stones, Elvis Presley, and more. Likewise, the FirstEnergy Stadium is also within walking distance. Besides being the home of the Cleveland Browns football team, it also hosts concerts and other events.
- Washington, D.C. – The nation’s capital offers a wealth of sightseeing destinations. Historic landmarks abound, including the Lincoln Memorial and the Washington Monument. And if you’re on a budget, you’ll be glad to know that there are plenty of free museums, too. Notable examples include the National Portrait Gallery and the National Air and Space Museum.
- Indianapolis, Indiana – Did you know that Indianapolis was the world’s first city to build a union station? The eye-catching Romanesque Revival building first opened in 1853 but has undergone several renovations since then. Close by, a good number of downtown’s attractions are within easy reach. You can catch a Broadway production at the Indiana Repertory Theatre, explore interactive drum and percussion exhibits at the Rhythm! Discovery Center, and shop ‘til you drop at Circle Centre Mall.
- Denver, Colorado – The century-old Denver Union Station is itself a major city landmark and houses a good selection of dining and shopping venues. Plus, it holds a weekly farmers’ market. It’s located in the vibrant downtown neighborhood of LoDo, close to many of the city’s attractions. The Museum of Contemporary Art, for instance, showcases modern artwork in rotating exhibitions. Also within walking distance is Confluence Park, where you can watch kayakers braving the rapids or bask under the sun beside the river.
- Reno, Nevada – Nevada’s third-largest city is also called the “biggest little city in the world.” It’s overflowing with seasonal and year-round attractions, so there’s always something to see and do no matter what time of the year you visit. You can admire classic cars at the National Automobile Museum, watch a performance by the Reno Philharmonic Orchestra, and watch a baseball game in Greater Nevada Field. And if you visit in winter, you’ll have plenty of opportunities to go skiing, snowboarding, and snowshoeing.
The train ride time is a bit long but as it can be used as a sightseeing tour of the cities, it will provide a great experience.
Coach class reclining seats are spacious with lots of legroom, comparable with business class on an airliner. Don’t worry if you can’t afford a sleeper, these seats recline to about 40 degrees, and are quite easy to sleep in, in fact if there is any train in the world where I wouldn’t much mind not having a sleeper, Amtrak trains are the ones I’d choose. There are 1 power sockets for laptops mobiles at each seat, and drinking water is available in each coach. Unlike in Europe, your reservation does not secure a specific seat in a specific coach, you can sit where you like once on board. An attendant looks after each seats car, and will place a ‘seat ticket’ above your seat to indicate that the seat is taken. You can either bring a blanket or buy an Amtrak blanket from the lounge car. Panorama photo of Superliner coach class .