Why Your Next Family Vacation Should Be On a Train

Seattle to Whitefish, Montana, on Amtrak
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Brian Schott / Explore Whitefish2/5

Seattle to Whitefish, Montana, on Amtrak

You may think of Amtrak as the overcrowded-oft delayed-commuter train whisking worker bees throughout the Northeast Corridor. Not so for the long haul. Yes, Amtrak has in-house travel agents, dining and sightseeing cars, sleeper cabins-roomettes, and a limited amount of larger family bedrooms (all convert from seating into sleeping berths). The trains may not be Four Star, but they have comfortable little efficiencies with hundreds of routes south and west of Washington and west of Chicago and New Orleans, with one Auto Train option that runs from outside of Washington, D.C., to Orlando. Note: When booking a sleeper cabin, meals on board are included, and kids (2–13) pay half fare. For alternate overnight trip itineraries, try Amtrak’s 800 number.

Our first favorite is from Seattle to Whitefish, Montana. The 14-hour trip careens through stunning Pacific Northwest scenery, depositing you at a tiny depot (car rentals available) just 45 minutes from Glacier National Park (buy passes in advance), where you can hike through gorges and wildflower-blanketed meadows, cross the famous Going-To-The- Sun road, spot waterfalls, and enjoy abundant wildlife sightings. [A family bedroom for two adults and two kids (including meals), from $226, amtrak.com]

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