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I've done this a couple times and they are some of the most amazing life experiences. I've also taken the Indian Pacific from Sydney to Perth.
Amtrak's Southwest Chief from Los Angeles takes you to Chicago. There aren't any trains that run between New York and points west of Chicago. Everything goes through Chicago on Amtrak (unless you can figure out how to connect through New Orleans - I never did that).
The Southwest Chief operates via Flagstaff Arizona, Albuquerque New Mexico, across Kansas and eventually into Chicago. The Lake Shore Limited is Amtrak's direct train from Chicago to New York, it stops in places like Toledo and Cleveland Ohio, Buffalo NY (near Niagara Falls) and works its way across New York and down the Hudson Valley into New York Penn Station.
Today I prefer the flexibility of driving across country. I can stop and see people I haven't seen in many years. I can visit places I've been wanting to see. I can eat what I want to eat, more flexibility.
You could drive out of Los Angeles and spend a day in Las Vegas, it is worth seeing the place. Then head up to Interstate 70 and cross the Rocky Mountains. There are some beautiful national parks in Utah. Stop in Vail Colorado or Denver. East across the Great Plains. I find crossing Nebraska very interesting. You may wish to stop in Chicago. It really depends whether you're interested in National Parks, fine dining, art museums, scenery, native American things, etc.
It is a great way to see America and it is a real life experience. Please let us know if you have questions.
Sorry - between Los Angeles and NYC
Hi 3 Aussies !!!
A great experience, going cross country. As More FF says, go south and west during that time of year. Great scenery, Parks, wildlife, a wonderful experience.
This is a good link for driving in the USA.. You can send for a free map as well.
How much time do you have for this trip??
I thinks it's a great idea depending on certain factors. As already mentioned, weather will be a factor in certain states. Depending on time you have to do this another option might might be to fly to from LAX to - somewhere - and then pick up a car or take the train from there on into NYC (or a combo of both).
Are there any parts of the country that you'd REALLY LIKE to see? That would help to know as well.
I second bilmin's suggestion of driving the coasts. If you have the time and inclination, you could always fly to any spots in between. My parents brought my daughter two different summers (about age 8-9) on two week driving vacations first up the west coast and then up the east coast. Really scenic areas, very different parts of the country as far as food and climate, more cities and scenery in shorter driving distances, more bang for your buck so to speak. My daughter would come home from school saying how cool it was that she had actually visited the places she was studying about.
I live in the South and there are some very long, desolate stretches, particularly through the Southwest where you will drive for many hours seeing very little. It's not so much that it's any less scenic, but it's more of a how much you can see in a limited time kind of thing.
Sounds like the trip of a lifetime for your daughter, she's quite fortunate!
We drove from Virginia to Phoenix and had the most amazing trip marveling about the geographical changes, visiting famous places, and in just in general admiring the beautiful USA. Wonderful experience! My only concern would be the weather in November. Check the weather forecast for your planned itinerary before you leave. Wouldn't want you to get stuck in snow and ice anywhere.
Ooooh, I love both train travel and long road trip, so I'm envious of your tentative plans -- and the USA offers such a variety of landscapes and terrain, your idea of not confining yourselves to seeing just the two coasts is one I'm sure you won't regret!
Amtrak does offer rail passes; more info about those here, but whether they are worthwhile for you can't really be determined until you have a better idea of where you might wish to go by train o & can more meaningfully "crunch the numbers" by comparing the pass prices to the cost of tix without a pass:
It's too far in advance to have a sound idea of what other Amtrak deals there might be for you, but bookmark this page for future reference; it's updated frequently & I've always found it reliable:
These couple of pages from (oddly enough) BidOnTravel do a nice job of neatly capsulizing the various Amtrak routes with tips on booking:
RailPassengerUSA offers more in-depth Route Guides which will give you an even better idea of what you can expect to see & recommended "photo op" points en route. Don't miss reading the current and some past issues of the Newsletter.
Sylvia & Ted Blishak, Train Travel Consulting/Accent on Travel USAreceive consistently high marks for the itineraries and bookings, for rail travel and related side trips/accommodations, they put together; they've been doing this for 30 years so offer a wealth of experience & expertise. Note that they are not group tour operators/vendors (and I consider that a big plus). Even if you end up not booking a trip with them, it should be very useful to consult with them and compare their prices to whatever else you might consider.
Roadside America is a fun compilation of offbeat tourist attractions, which will liven up any leg of your motoring travel with some real Americana, and Jane & Michael Stern's Road Food -- their web site and/or the latest edition of their book -- will enrich your travels in more ways than one:
The online version of Arthur Frommer's Budget Travel magazine isn't as easy to navigate as it could be, but there are some wonderful itineraries and excellent recommendations to be gleaned from these sections:
P.S. TripAdvisor is likely to move this out of the NYC Forum to the Road Trips forum.