Looking for a vacation idea this summer that doesn't involve added baggage fees and airport delays? Considered train travel? Train trips don't have to take days either, there are plenty of appealing destinations within a few hours of many major cities And with reasonable Amtrak fares and added discounts, it can be affordable too.
Here are a few examples of trips within three hours of a major city or airport. Plus, details on a partnership between Amtrak and the National Park service that brings the great outdoors onboard:
- Portland, Maine: Hop the Downeaster from Boston and be in Portland in about two-and-a-half hours. Each train has free Wi-Fi, though there's also plenty of scenery to take in as you pass through the cities and towns of New Hampshire and Maine.
- Santa Barbara: The Coast Starlight and the Pacific Surfliner connect Los Angeles to Santa Barbara. Multiple daily departures make the two-and-a-half hour ride along the beautiful California coast easy to fit into any schedule. The Santa Barbara Car Free website lists car-free packages and discounts, and even has car-free maps to make getting around a snap.
- Springfield, Illinois: Aboard the Texas Eagle, Springfield is a three-hour journey from Chicago. And since the bicentennial of the birth of Springfield's most famous son, Abraham Lincoln, runs through 2010, there are plenty of reasons to visit. Events such as festivals, talks, exhibits, and house tours commemorate the anniversary.
If you're as interested in the journey as the destination, check out Trails and Rails, a joint program of Amtrak and the National Parks Service. Educational programs led by national park guides are available on a dozen routes around the country.