When you think summer travel, what first comes to mind? Beach-side cocktails, outdoor excursions, all-inclusive resorts, family-friendly trips and, simply put, time away from work and all things responsibilities. It’s a time to kick back and enjoy some much-deserved rest and relaxation.
Road trips have become increasingly popular, most recently being spurred by the pandemic, but day trips and long-weekend vacations are inevitably here to stay. When you think road trip, you automatically envision a car packed full of luggage, friends or family and, of course, snacks.
What you may not consider when planning a road trip is the potential to explore some of the same locations and must-see destinations without ever putting your hands on the wheel.
Wondering how you can plan a road trip without being on the road? That’s where we come in! Welcome aboard, Railquip readers! Train trips and railroad reservations are coming right up!
Let’s start local! Being based in Georgia, and after more than 30 years in the business, we know that there’s endless opportunities to explore everything from mountainous terrain to historical sites to resort-like settings all within our great Peach State.
Here’s some of the best-kept secret railway trips in GA:
- Blue Ridge Scenic Railway: This 26-mile journey alongside the Toccoa River is serving up views for days! Site see throughout the journey, and enjoy a layover in McCaysville, located on the Georgia state line. Who would have thought you could see some of the best peaks without twisting and turning in your own vehicle?
- Okefenokee Swamp Park: Depart the station in Waycross and enjoy a journey that can’t be replicated! You’ll even stop at Pioneer Island along this unforgettable ride.
- Pine Mountain Gold Museum & Scenic Railroad: Family-friendly or perfect for two, this scenic trek is great for educating everyone along the ride about the gold rush in West Georgia, panning for gold and gemstones, viewing farm animals at available exhibits and exploring trailers within the 27-acre park in Villa Rica.
- SAM Shortline Railroad: Hop on into this historic Shortline Railroad car that has stops planned in Cordele, Americus and Plans. You won’t be able to get enough of these small towns with big attractions!
- Southeastern Railway Museum: This option is set in Duluth and showcases 90 pieces of railway history. Although you won’t necessarily be on-the-move, this option is a hit amongst locals and visitors alike!
- Stone Mountain Park: Did we save the best for last? This short railway is just one of the many ways to explore Stone Mountain and takes you on a sub-one-hour adventure throughout beautiful areas inside the Park.
Now, it’s time to start dreaming big and then some! Take your adventure outside the state for some big views and even bigger fun. Here’s some of the nation’s best options for railroad escapes should your upcoming travel allow you to venture outside Georgia’s state lines.
- Cascades (Eugene, Oregon to Vancouver British Columbia): Ride through America’s Pacific Northwest and gaze about evergreen forests, Seattle’s gorgeous views, Puget Sound and more! This four-hour journey is just picturesque!
- California Zephyr (Chicago, Illinois to Emeryville, California): Retrace the pioneer’s trails on this American West adventure! For those seeking a much longer journey, this 50-plus hour ride is simply incredible to view sights from Denver to Utah to San Francisco Bay.
- White Pass & Yukon Route (Skagway, Alaska): Now this is our version of a cliffside retreat! Complete with three excursions, you’ll see glaciers, lakes, waterfalls and more as you journey through Carcross, Yukon and Lake Bennett. There’s also an option to enhance the ride through Bridal Veil Falls and Dead Horse Gulch to White Pass Summit, some of the country’s most breathtaking sights.
- Cape Cod Central Railroad (Hyannis to Buzzards Bay, Massachusetts): Let’s take a trip back to the east coast and take in the sheer seaside beauty of California. You’ve probably considered venturing to Martha’s Vineyard, but this is an entirely new way to take in Cape Cod and some of its best-kept secrets!
- Grand Canyon Railway (Williams, Arizona): Doesn’t the name give it all away? But, just in case you’re not sold yet, take a gander at the Grand Canyon on this picture-perfect adventure in Arizona. You’ll see high desert, Native American reservations, elk, bald eagles and some of the most beautiful peaks and mountainous terrain you’ve ever laid your eyes on.
- Coast Starlight (Los Angeles, California to Seattle, Washington): We’re back to the west coast on a different route with this unique Pacific coast ride. See cliffs along the PCH, Mount Shasta, the San Francisco Bay, Oregon’s Cascade mountains, Mount Rainier and Puget Sound. Sounds like wins all around the board!
- Sunset Limited (New Orleans, Louisiana to Los Angeles, California): This route surely peaked your interest! Imagine journeying from Louisiana’s bayou country to Texas, New Mexico, Arizona and California without setting foot on the gas pedal! This is truly a one-of-a-kind adventure!
- Adirondack (New York City to Montreal): Imagine leaving the bustle of the city only to see the skyline shift towards gorgeous views of the Hudson River Valley and then transform to the mountainous terrain of the Adirondack Mountains. This 10-hour (one way) trip is breathtaking from start to stop and then back again.
Have we given you enough of a reason why you should ditch those rentals and hop into a railway car?! There are so many overlooked and unknown pathways throughout the United States that you may be drawn to via car or plane but have never given thought to seeing via train.
If you’re inclined to see the states via highway or planeside, then you can certainly take your railroad dreams outside the border to explore countries near and far! Some of the world’s most well-known monuments and historical sights are best seen via rail. Start planning your next trip, and let the trains do the rest!