Is there anything better than a summer vacation? Spending time with the family, soaking up the sun, exploring exciting destinations - it's no wonder that so many Americans set out for an incredible summer vacation each year. The hardest part is deciding where to go. The United States has no shortage of fantastic summer vacation spots to visit by rail, ranging from serene parklands to incredible cities that illustrate the country's diversity and varying landscapes. From national park adventures to big city explorations, here are the top summer vacation destinations in the USA.
Experience the untamed landscapes of Big Sky Country when you vacation in Montana. The state's crowning jewel is Glacier National Park, a 1-million acre respite that is all glacier-carved valleys, snow-capped mountain peaks and crystalline lakes. Glacier National Park is one of the best vacation spots in August because while the rest of the country is sweltering, Glacier rarely tops 70 degrees. Join our Glacier, Yellowstone and Jackson tour to journey to Glacier National Park aboard Amtrak's Empire Builder, stay at the park's historic lodges, ride along Going-to-the-Sun Road aboard vintage 1930s Red Jammer Buses, cruise lakes surrounded by forested peaks, hike and enjoy nature's stillness during your summer trip.
New York City
If there was ever a place that exemplifies the "American melting pot," it is the Big Apple. There is so much to see, from the culture-filled neighborhoods, where languages, food and tradition overflow into the streets, to Manhattan's exquisite buildings and colorful Times Square. Visit Central Park, one of the most filmed locations, and re-enact your favorite rom-com movie moment, or seek out famous landmarks and museums to explore the city's history. Join our New York, Niagara Falls & Washington D.C. tour to experience the Empire City as part of a three-city extravaganza connected by rail travel on Amtrak's trains.
Home to the "Mighty Five," Arches, Bryce Canyon, Canyonlands, Capitol Reef and Zion National Park, Utah is a great summer vacation destination for outdoor activities, awe-inspiring scenery and adventure. See the highest concentration of hoodoos, unique sandstone formations that give the landscape an otherworldly feel, at Bryce Canyon National Park. Hike to Delicate Arch, an impressive free-standing arch that's 46 feet high and 32 feet wide, at Arches National Park, or explore the pristine wilderness and Navajo Sandstone that erodes into dome-like structures at Capitol Reef National Park. Join our Great Parks of the Southwest featuring the Grand Canyon to visit four of the mighty five with spectacular sightseeing, a jetboat ride, a canyon cruise and an overnight rail experience on Amtrak's Southwest Chief.
If you want a destination with fantastic restaurants, thriving art scenes, breathtaking scenery and loads of history, Colorado should be amongst your top contenders for summer vacation spots in the USA. Vibrant cities, such as Denver and Colorado Springs, are framed by incredible views of the Rocky Mountains, and thrilling outback adventures are at your fingertips. If mining history piques your interest, join the Colorado Rail Experience to ride heritage railways, visit old boomtowns and explore nature at the Garden of the Gods.
Set in the heart of the Midwest, Chicago is one of the prime summer vacation spots for couples and families. Treat yourself to a deep-dish pizza aside Lake Michigan or peruse the shops along the Magnificent Mile. Guided touring unveils famous attractions, like the Bean, Willis Tower and Millennium Park. The city's central location makes it an excellent launch - or stop-over - point for rail vacations around the country, including those that venture to other metropolises, such as the Lake Shore Limited Experience - Chicago to New York, and those that seek the wilderness, such as the Glacier National Park Escape - Chicago Roundtrip.
For a wild addition to your summer vacation ideas list, consider America's Last Frontier. Indigenous culture collides with bountiful nature to create vacations filled with excitement. Float between cities, including Anchorage, Talkeetna and Fairbanks, journeying on the Alaska Railroad, or set out beyond the bounds of civilization to Denali and Kenai Fjords National Parks. Immerse yourself in some of the best scenery Alaska has to offer as our Alaska By Day rail vacation takes you from tidewater to Alaska's "Golden Heart."
History buffs, look no further than the nation's capital city for one of the top places to travel in the summer. Monuments, grand architecture and museums galore lie ahead as you spend your days wandering Capitol Hill and the National Mall. Visitors flood this destination for the famed sites and stay for the charming neighborhoods and exceptional cuisine. Join your time in D.C. with excursions in other cities east of the Mississippi with our Chicago, New Orleans, Washington DC & New York City tour. This vacation offers transit aboard Amtrak's overnight trains and time to experience each locale.
The beauty of choosing from this list of places to go this summer is that there is no wrong answer, only the one that is right for you. Grab your camera and your sense of adventure; it's summertime.