5 Fun, Affordable Train Trips


Trains are not only a huge part of our history and economy, but they make for scenic, relaxing, and enjoyable travel. Next time a three-day weekend rolls around, try going on one of these five fun, affordable train trips.

1. California: Pacific Surfliner

This beachy train runs daily from the heart of the Central Coast all the way down to San Diego, past many of California’s most beautiful beaches. Expect to see lots of everyday train commuters, college kids headed home for the weekend, and vacationing families on their way to Legoland. Two great times for people-watching are on the week of San Diego Comic-Con International, where you can meet tons of comics, movie, and TV celebrities on their way to the convention; and on opening day of the Del Mar race track, when men in suits and women in their most colorful fineries and elaborate hats turn the whole train into a party.

Price: As low as $61 per adult ($30.50 child) one way, for the full route.

2. Colorado: Durango-Silverado Mining Trail

Any frontier history buff should have this mining trail train on their bucket list. The Denver-Rio Grande Railway Company founded the railway to haul tons of ore through the Colorado Rockies back in 1880, but the route was (and still is) so scenic that it was immediately in use for passenger trains as well. The Durango-Silverado trains are vintage models indigenous to the route, and there are plenty of literature, tours, and adventures to accompany the trip. Great for the adventuring prospector in all of us and great for kids, too.

Price: As low as $85 adult ($51 child) per roundtrip.

3. New York: Ethan Allen Express

Live near NYC and want an unforgettable Walden-esque scenic experience? The Ethan Allen railway is one of the prettiest railroad routes in America, stretching over 271 miles of verdant Northeastern mountain ranges such as New York’s Adirondacks and Vermont’s Green Mountains. Try going during early autumn, when the leaves turn into that famous red and gold foliage and apples are ready for picking. Rutland, Vermont, the end of the line, is also well-known for its Halloween celebrations. Bring the kids!

Price: As low as $72 per adult ($36 child) one way.

4. West Virginia: Cass Scenic Railroad

Let this route take you into the Appalachian mountains and back in time, when the Cass company railway opened in 1902. It was used to transport lumber to the Cass sawmill. Now you can gaze upon the old mill surrounded by lush, overgrown wilderness from the open air passenger train. There is also a museum and a tour through the old company shop that built and maintained the lumber trains. A must-see for Americana and railroad fans alike, with lots of activities for the kids.

Price: As low as $35 per adult ($24 child) roundtrip.

5. Arizona: Grand Canyon Railway

Ready to savor the Grand Canyon, but not necessarily the hiking type? The Grand Canyon Railway is a wonderful way to travel the South Rim comfortably and in style, as did many U.S. presidents such as Roosevelt, Taft, and Eisenhower. Another historical gem, there are stories of all the train’s most notable passengers since its opening in 1901 throughout the tour. The train will provide a four-hour stopover, where you can stretch your legs, walk around the rim, or sleepover in a nearby lodge. A great trip for a family with older children ready experience the Old West.

Price: As low as $65 per adult ($29 child) per trip.

Have you taken a family vacation by rail? How was it?

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Guest's picture
Ted J.

It's the Durango - Silverton Narrow Guage Railroad, not Silverado. Runs from Durango to the old mining town of Silverton along the Animas river in the San Juan Mountains of Colorado.