Riding the Amtrak across the country is hands down the most underrated way to travel! It’s not glamorous or luxurious by any means, but wow did we have SO MUCH FUN! We’ve driven and flown to New Orleans multiple times so we were looking for a different kind of adventure and we definitely found it on the City of New Orleans train #59! We departed from Union Station in Chicago. We decided to book “sleeper” rooms on the train instead of coach seats so that we would have a little more room and privacy while traveling and also have the option to lay down and sleep if we wanted, since the train ride was overnight. When we arrived at Union Station we were directed to a hospitality room (the Metropolitan Lounge) reserved for those travelers with sleeper cars. It was really nice! The lounge consisted of two stories of multiple, separate seating areas with TVs, couches, chairs and even a snack and drink bar that was complimentary. The lower level even had a small cash bar. The upper level was reserved as a quiet room for those travelers interested in napping or reading. We had a few hours to wait so we just hung out and enjoyed being away and not having to be responsible for anything or anyone but ourselves. At one point, a gentleman even came around with complimentary, delicious chocolates on a tray; very fancy for train travel I thought!
I never actually took any pictures of the Metropolitan Lounge apparently, but you can check it out here if you’re interested 🙂 Metropolitan Lounge in Chicago Union Station
We departed on the City of New Orleans train at 2005. After we settled into our room, we were served dinner in the dining car. If you purchase a sleeper room, then your meals are included in the price of your ticket. The food was surprisingly good for being on a train. haha
There are a couple different types of sleeper cars; we actually had a roomette. Check out this Amtrak blog post for more information and photos. (Amtrak Roomette) There’s two large seats that face each other with a giant viewing window to watch the countryside as it passes by. The seats fold down into a bed and there’s an upper bunk that folds down as well so there’s enough room for two adults to sleep comfortably.
The train ride is 19 hours and 42 minutes per the Amtrak schedule, so it arrives in New Orleans around 1547 the next day. We stayed up late into the night watching out the window as the train made its way south toward the bayous of Louisiana. When we finally decided to hit the hay, we slept better than we thought we would. The rhythmic movement of the train was actually pretty soothing. The next morning, breakfast was included but we decided to sleep in and skip it since we stayed up late. We just had coffee instead which is also complimentary. There’s a small drink station at the end of the sleeper car where they have water, coffee and sometimes juice.
There’s also a really neat viewing car with top to bottom windows for maximum scenery viewing and tables for playing cards or games. We spent some time relaxing in there because it was a gorgeously sunny day and well…we had nothing else to do. haha As we approached Louisiana and the bayous, we moved back to our roomette to take in the views out of our own window. The train travels right between Lake Maurepas and Lake Pontchartrain! It was so awesome to see the homes along the lakes and throughout the bayou. However, one of my mom and I’s favorite sights when traveling to NOLA are the cypress trees covered in Spanish moss. Nothing says southern Louisiana bayou to me more than that gorgeous view. (Unfortunately I didn’t get a picture of the trees as I was too busy taking it all in.)
We arrived at New Orleans Union Station around 1530 and couldn’t wait to immerse ourselves in the delicious food, drinks, music, architecture and friendliness of the people that we have come to know and love. NOLA definitely gets in your soul, and there is no place like it in the world. I would highly recommend travel by Amtrak! You will have the experience of a lifetime. Stay tuned for my next post about the French Quarter and Jazz Fest!