Four of Amtrak’s Most Scenic Routes

Get your camera ready for that Insta-worthy post as you relax in observation cars aboard one of Amtrak’s many celebrated scenic routes. Some of the most memorable train rides across the U.S. are just an Amtrak away.

1. Coast Starlight

A train adventure spanning from Washington to Southern California, the Coast Starlight is a daily route between Los Angeles and Seattle that passes through beautiful Santa Barbara, the San Francisco Bay Area, Sacramento and Portland. This route offers one of the most scenic experiences when traveling by train through California. From the striking snow-clad summits of the Cascade Range to the expansive stretches of the Pacific Ocean coastline, the observation car offers a magnificent panorama.

Don't just take our word for it: follow the #coaststarlight tag on Instagram to see what photo-savvy explorers are saying (mood spoiler: pure bliss).

Amtrak scenic train ride California shoreline

2. California Zephyr

Amtrak train ride snowy terrain view through window

Step on the California Zephyr in Chicago and step off in sunny California. There’s no better way to see the Midwest than traveling through while capturing memories of Omaha, Denver, and the Great Salt Lake along the ride. Experience the highs and lows of Nebraska’s Great Plains and the Rocky Mountains in Colorado. No coastline, no problem — on this route you’ll also witness Donner Lake nestled amidst the captivating scenery of the mountains. 

What's better than a single blog writer's endorsement? How about tens of thousands of gorgeous endorsements on the #californiazephyr Instagram tag?

3. Empire Builder

From the Windy City to Big Sky Country, behold the magnificent skylines and natural beauty of America on one of Amtrak’s most scenic routes: The Empire Builder. This legendary route offers views of natural wonders including the Mississippi River, Glacier National Park, the vast North Dakota Plains, and wildlife throughout Montana. From Spokane, your options expand along two tracks, allowing you to either continue to the vibrant city of Seattle or venture down toward Portland where passengers can witness the majestic Mt. Hood. 

This route's reputation for beautiful views is also no stranger to praise — as you can see from the #amtrakempirebuilder tag on Instagram.

Amtrak scenic train station in California

4. Pacific Surfliner

Amtrak scenic Superliner train with beachside views

All aboard the Pacific Surfliner — one of the best-loved train rides in California and an unmatched way to see LA. This scenic route hugs the Western Coastline with stunning views of the Pacific Ocean and rolling California hills with daily routes running between Santa Barbara, Irvine and San Clemente. Spend your time kicking back, enjoying the views and bypassing the traffic of the 405. This train stops at many beaches and renowned amusement parks for the perfect stress-free adventure.

Last but not lease, the #pacificsurfliner tag on Instagram shows off the full array of seasons, weather, time of day and all of the inspiring views you'll see along this coastal gem of a route.

If a picture tells a thousand words, then a video tells an exponential, incalculable amount — here's a solo traveler's Pacific Northwest adventure aboard the Coast Starlight with bonus Sightseer Lounge footage.