The Showcase Magazine - Articles

by Erik R. Slagle

You CAN Get There From Here: 4 Ways to Explore Amtrak This Year, Starting in the Garden State

What if you could take a cross-country trip without leaving the ground, one that wouldn’t log thousands of miles on your car? One where you could enjoy the view of America from eye-level, in a comfy seat, through broad windows? You can thanks to Amtrak, and your trip starts at Newark’s historic Penn Station. Take the Gladstone Branch or Raritan Valley Line to Newark, and then settle into an Amtrak recliner (these aren’t airline seats!) for a geared-down journey to some incredible destinations. You may not be going “by the exits,” but you’ll make amazing memories and meet terrific people along the way.

Silver Meteor/Silver Star to Florida. Sure, you could fly – but if you’ve got the time, a slow chug down America’s eastern seaboard sure beats the hassle of airports and 2020’s cramped, nickel-and-dime flight experiences. Leave Newark today, get to Florida tomorrow morning. These lines run all the way to Miami (with an optional detour in Tampa on Florida’s gulf coast), but if Magic City isn’t on your bucket list then hop off in Baltimore, Raleigh, Savannah, Jacksonville, Orlando, or another of the couple dozen stops from here to there.

Pennsylvanian to Pittsburgh. Want some truly beautiful countryside views you won’t get from driving Route 78 or I-80? The historic Pennsy line will get you to Pittsburgh in about 9 hours. From there, you can explore Steel City or connect to Chicago – a key Amtrak hub that can be your gateway to all points west. En route to Pittsburgh you’ll pass through Amish country near Lancaster, the state capital at Harrisburg, and the iconic Altoona Curve: maybe the only place in America where you can watch your own train coming and going!

Cardinal to Chicago. Or D.C., or Charleston, or Cincinnati, or Indianapolis … you’ll find options aplenty when you check out the Cardinal’s schedule. The ride all the way to Chicago takes a little more than 24 hours, but you’ll arrive at Union Station in time for a late breakfast. The countryside through West Virginia and Kentucky is some of the most stunning to be seen in the eastern U.S. but heading west you’ll pass through these parts in darkness. If you do the route in reverse, though, you’ll see all of this from the window of your dining car while you enjoy breakfast.

Crescent to New Orleans. The Crescent originates in New York right after lunch and reaches Newark a short time later. After that, you’ll pass through Washington D.C. as the sun goes down, and roll through Virginia and the Carolinas during the night. You’ll have breakfast around Atlanta, lunch in Alabama, and enjoy a late afternoon roll through Mississippi before reaching the Big Easy just after dinner. A great way to see some of the “deep south” on a train that matches Dixie’s easy, meandering pace.