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Old 02-08-2010, 07:50 AM
 
69 posts, read 284,293 times
Reputation: 51

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Has anyone here taken the Train from Chicago to New York? I am thinking about taking a vacation to new york this summer and since my wife hates to fly I was thinking a train. Anyone have any good or bad experiences with Amtrak for a long distance? Are there any other passenger train options? Would you recommend getting a room on board?

Or is a train not worth it and driving would be easier?

Knat
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Old 02-08-2010, 08:01 AM
 
Location: Not where you ever lived
10,852 posts, read 15,182,199 times
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A train is expensive. A berth is very nice if you can afford it as you have a private bath. It is an excellen way to see the USA and you don't have to fight the traffic to get into the city. You wont be dog tired when you arrive. The downside if you won't have a car, but you won't need one.

The advantage to a car is you can stop whenever and where ever you want. You do not have to drive only on Interstate roads. You can explore the USA - not just see if from the Interstate. NYC is not any cooler in the summer than Chicago.

You might consider going in the fall when it is cooler and the foliage is coloriful. All of the things you want to do should still be open.

Just my two cents as a long distance driver/traveler.
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Old 02-08-2010, 08:40 AM
 
Location: Avondale (Chicago, IL)
83 posts, read 297,190 times
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Consider driving - if you split the trip up into 2 days - you can reach Niagara Falls in 8.5 hours from Chicago. Spend some time in beautiful upstate NY and from there, NYC is about 6.5 hours. It would be helpful to add a day or two to your total stay, but it's worth it, especially if you're going in the summer or fall to peep scenery and foliage.
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Old 02-08-2010, 08:55 AM
 
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Is there any other places your would recommend stopping besides Niagra falls?
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Old 02-08-2010, 09:26 AM
 
357 posts, read 736,235 times
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I've done a Chicago to NYC roundtrip on Amtrak, a couple years ago.

The train is great. Price is competitive with flying, gives some welcome (to some of us) downtime, takes you straight from downtown to downtown.

You didn't say where you're going. If NYC, driving would work but you should have some idea in advance where you're gonna stash your car. Your options are pretty much find some outlying area to leave the car in and take a commuter train in, or pay up to $50/day to park it in the city. If you're visiting the rest of New York, having a car is almost necessary, although you may be able to manage without one while visiting Buffalo, Niagara Falls or Albany.

The two options for you basically are the Lake Shore Limited from CHI to NYP, or the Capitol Limited from CHI to WAS, transferring to a Regional for a couple hours to get to NYP. The latter option actually winds up being notably faster, particularly eastbound. Sleepers are also a lot cheaper on the Capitol Limited. The seats and sleepers are both sold by bucket pricing, like the airlines, so for the lowest fares book as far in advance as possible.

A couple of resources. Amtraktrains.com is a site, unaffiliated with Amtrak, where you can you find out a lot more. By reading their forum or posting this question there, you can find out pretty much any practical travel info that there is to know about this trip. Also, amtrakdelays.com compiles and presents the OTP for most any train at any station. Amtrak has a terrible reputation for being late with the general public, but it varies a lot depending on the route (and changes over time). Some of them are fine. Fortunately, a glance at that site shows that both trains from Chicago to the East Coast are recently running on schedule for the most part.

One last thing. You will enjoy Amtrak the most if you don't set your expectations too high. Some people expect the Orient Express, and then bitterly complain on the Internet about their disappointing experience afterwards. Amtrak is, essentially, public transportation, and is chronically underfunded. For me, I find it a pleasant, at times teriffic, way to travel long distances when it fits my schedule and my needs for a particular trip.
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Old 02-08-2010, 09:38 AM
 
Location: IL
2,303 posts, read 2,166,017 times
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~3 years ago my wife, 2 year old, and I went by train from Chicago-NYC, as my wife was pregnant and didnt want to fly. We had a room with two beds, which was nice...it was very small, but we expected that. The nice thing was that we had beds to sleep in, so we all slept pretty good and were ready to experience the city right when we arrived. The food was fine, not great, but fine. I showered on the train, too, which again was cramped but functional.

The only part I had a problem with was more due to me than the train. At the end, I just wanted to get home, so the trip back felt like it took forever. Trains and driving both have advantages, just think about what you want to get out of your trip. We just wanted to visit NYC, we have been to Niagara Falls, Cleveland, and South Bend many times and we had limited vacation days available.
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Old 02-08-2010, 10:22 AM
 
Location: Avondale (Chicago, IL)
83 posts, read 297,190 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by knat_2 View Post
Is there any other places your would recommend stopping besides Niagra falls?
The areas in and around Ithaca (finger lakes region) is beautiful. Here's some resources to get you started:

Finger Lakes - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
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Old 02-08-2010, 12:15 PM
 
8,467 posts, read 7,078,205 times
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If you don't need to stop anywhere, the train is a good option. When you consider the cost of hotels and tolls, and parking in NYC, driving could easily cost more. I did it years ago. The scenery is better, especially along the Hudson division. I recommend getting a room. And reserve early: Summer trains are sold out months in advance.
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Old 02-08-2010, 02:15 PM
 
Location: Saint Louis, MO
1,676 posts, read 2,321,205 times
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I've done the train from Chicago to Buffalo before, and my boyfriend several times as he's from there. As much as I hate flying, I'd rather get there in an hour and a half and deal with the stress of flying than be on the train for forever.

Remember, the freight trains take priority over the passenger trains, so many times the Amtrak train will need to pull over, wait for the freight train to pass (I've waited an hour per freight train before), and then it'll continue. If the time spent traveling doesn't matter to you, then it's a fine option.
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Old 02-08-2010, 02:52 PM
 
29 posts, read 129,939 times
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You could take an airplane and get there quicker and cheaper, but if you want to do the train for the experience I say go for it. Like someone else said, the train will take you from downtown to downtown, which an airplane can't do. It is expensive to take a cab (or even a subway) from one of the airports to Manhattan. The Amtrak sleeper cabins are a nice luxury, but the trip is doable with out one if you want to save money. One of the trains will stop in Washington D.C. then you'll need to transfer to another train to get to NYC. You can take the "high speed" Acela train from there if you want (it is faster but it also costs more). There is lots of stuff to see and do in D.C. if you can plan for it. Even if you only have a couple of hours between trains you can buy a ticket for one of their sightseeing trolleys that will take you around and teach you stuff about the Capital. When I went a few years ago they had a room at the train station in D.C. where you could check your luggage and have them watch it for you so you can go explore the city in between train rides. Which ever you decide to do, bring LOTS of money for when you get to NYC, you will need it.
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