Amtrak in Chicago: 20 popular train destinations with travel times

To Trains sign in Chicago Union Station

Chicago is a great place to start an Amtrak trip. There are many destinations to choose from all around the country. Here are some of the most popular trips with travel times. Destinations are listed in alphabetical order.

Chicago to Bloomington

Bloomington, Illinois is just over two hours from Chicago via Amtrak train. Multiple trains travel between the cities each day. Choose between the Lincoln Service route or the long-distance Texas Eagle train, which has roomettes and bedrooms.

Chicago to Boston

The Lake Shore Limited train travels between Chicago and Boston daily. It’s an overnight trip with a travel time of about 21.5 hours.

Chicago to Champaign

The location of University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Champaign is about a two-hour train ride from Chicago. Choose from the Illini or Saluki Amtrak routes for coach seats, or book tickets on the City of New Orleans route if you prefer a roomette or bedroom.

Chicago to Denver

The California Zephyr travels between Chicago and Denver daily. This is an overnight trip with a travel time around 18 hours.

Chicago to Flagstaff/Grand Canyon

Head to Flagstaff on the Southwest Chief to see the Grand Canyon and other sights. Travel time is almost 32 hours and you’ll spend one night on the train.

Chicago to Indianapolis

The Cardinal train travels between Chicago and Indianapolis three times per week, with Chicago departures on Saturday, Tuesday and Thursday. Trip time is about 5 hours.

Chicago to Kansas City

Kansas City is about seven hours away from Chicago on Amtrak’s Southwest Chief route.

Chicago to Los Angeles

Amtrak travels between Chicago and Los Angeles daily on the Southwest Chief. It’s two nights on the train with a travel time around 43 hours.

Chicago to Michigan

Three trains depart Chicago and go to Michigan: Blue Water, Pere Marquette and Wolverine (which stops in Detroit). Popular destinations in Michigan with Amtrak stations include Ann Arbor, Detroit, East Lansing, Flint, Grand Rapids, Holland and Kalamazoo. Travel time ranges from two to six hours.

Chicago to Milwaukee

Chicago to Milwaukee is a quick 1.5 hour train ride on Amtrak’s Hiawatha train. There are multiple trains each day.

Chicago to Minneapolis

Amtrak’s Empire Builder route travels between Chicago and Minneapolis daily. Travel time is almost eight hours.

Chicago to New Orleans

An overnight 20-hour trip from Chicago, New Orleans is an easy getaway. The City of New Orleans train travels between the two cities and sleeping accommodations are available.

Chicago to New York City

Travel between two of the largest cities in the United States on Amtrak’s Lake Shore Limited or Cardinal routes. Trip time is around 20 hours on the Lake Shore Limited and 27 on the Cardinal. To view the beautiful New River Gorge, choose the Cardinal. Otherwise, both routes have sleeping accommodations and require a night on the train.

Chicago to Omaha

Omaha is nine hours away from Chicago via Amtrak’s California Zephyr train. It’s a day trip, but you can book a roomette or bedroom if you want private seating.

Chicago to Portland

Book tickets on the Empire Builder for a journey out to Portland, Oregon. Travel time is about 46 hours with two nights on the train.

Chicago to St. Louis

St. Louis is 5.5 hours away from Chicago on Amtrak. Choose from the Lincoln Service or Texas Eagle trains. The Texas Eagle has roommettes and bedrooms if you prefer privacy.

Chicago to San Francisco

San Francisco does not have an Amtrak train station, but Amtrak provides bus service from Emeryville, California. If you choose San Francisco as your final destination when booking your tickets, the bus transfer is included in your fare. Train travel time on the California Zephyr to Emeryville is about 52 hours and the bus ride is about 30 minutes to San Francisco. It’s a long trip, but the scenery is amazing along the way.

Chicago to Seattle

The Empire Builder train travels between Chicago and Seattle daily. Trip time is about 46 hours with two nights on the train and travel through the Montana Rocky Mountains.

Chicago to South Bend

South Bend and the University of Notre Dame is 1.5 hours away from Chicago via Amtrak train. You can book tickets on the Capitol Limited or Lake Shore Limited routes.

Chicago to Washington D.C.

The Capitol Limited route travels between Chicago and Washington D.C. daily in about 17.5 hours. You can also choose to travel through the New River Gorge via the Cardinal train. Trip time is longer however, about 23.5 hours.

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