I’ve always been fascinated with trains. I’m sure that part of that interest stems from our country’s history of westward expansion brought upon by the Transcontinental Railroad and it’s meeting point at Promontory, UT, or maybe it’s because I’m distantly related to the infamous train robbers and outlaws Frank and Jesse James. Either way, I enjoy traveling by train (legally that is.) Short train rides up to a seaside city or through an orchard satisfy my train indulgence, and it’s an inexpensive way to travel quickly and comfortably.

A City by the Sea

I’m lucky to live on the Pacific Coast and can catch a local train that can transport me within an hour or three to Santa Barbara or San Diego. Not only is the view spectacular, it’s easy to haul my bikes on the train’s normally empty baggage compartment. Train travel is really comfortable compared with plane travel; the seats are large and spacious and there’s plenty of leg room. You can also walk around the cars to stretch your legs.

My last Amtrak trip cost under $75 for two people and took about the same amount of time as it would have by car. It also allowed me to take my bikes. And it was great not having to worry about parking or enjoying a few drinks relieving me of worrying about who would be the designated driver.

Scenic Train Rides

Another great train option not far from my home is theme based scenic train rides. About an hour north of me is a town called Fillmore. The town itself is nothing to boast about, but its one tourist attraction are its trains. Most of the trains are historic and offer hour rides, three hour rides, and theme based dinners. Last Fourth of July I took an hour train ride in an open-air compartment through an orchard. It was a great way to see the mountains and valley and a fun afternoon activity. Throughout the year they also offer theme based dinners; both mystery and holiday train rides.

Cross Country Tours

An option I’ve looked into, but unfortunately don’t have the time for, is cross country train trips. Instead of flying to New York or Chicago, I could take a 2- to 3-day train trip instead. It’s much more comfortable, however the drawback is it isn’t any cheaper than flying and takes more time. But, for those with flight anxiety, it could offer a comfortable alternative.

Have you traveled by train? What are the benefits or disadvantages?