Amtrak trains that depart from Boston can take you up and down the coast or as far west as Chicago. There are multiple options for day or weekend trips, so you don’t have to travel far to have a fun rail adventure. To get started, here are the best Amtrak trips from Boston with good arrival and departure times that don’t require train transfers.
Only 50 minutes away from Boston on the train, Haverhill is an easy day or overnight trip on Amtrak’s Downeaster route. Ski Bradford is a top attraction for skiing and snowboarding. In warmer months, check out Willow Springs Vineyards and John Greenleaf Whittier’s birthplace.
There are multiple trains to choose from each day, with departure from the North Station. If you need to rent a car, an Enterprise office is in walking distance from the Haverhill Station. You can also walk to multiple restaurants and the Passaqua Playground. Otherwise, use Lyft or Uber to get around.
Explore charming towns, history and outdoor activities in Connecticut via Amtrak’s Northeast Regional route. Trains depart from South Station and Back Bay Station multiple times each day so a day trip is doable. New London (just under one hour), Mystic (1.5 hours, pictured above), New Haven (2.5 hours), Bridgeport (3 hours) and Stamford (3.5 hours) are popular destinations to plan a trip around. Highlights include:
- Ocean Beach Park and Cross Sound Ferry lighthouse cruises in New London
- Mystic Seaport Museum, Mystic Aquarium and year-round events in Mystic
- Yale University museums and art galleries in New Haven
- Seaside Park and Beardsley Zoo in Bridgeport
- Cove Island Park and Stamford Nature Center in Stamford
Maine is an easy train trip from Boston’s North Station on the Downeaster. There are six stops to choose from in this order: Wells, Saco, Old Orchard Beach, Portland, Freeport and Brunswick. Wells is two hours away from Boston, Portland is 2.5 hours and Brunswick is the furthest away with a travel time of 3 hours and 20 minutes.
In the summer, you can visit beaches near the Wells, Saco and Old Orchard Beach stations. Unique destinations include the Rachel Carson National Wildlife Refuge in Wells, Funtown Splashtown USA in Saco, and Palace Playland and the charming pier in Old Orchard Beach.
For history, culture and food, book tickets to Portland or Brunswick. Or travel to Freeport for hiking at Wolfe’s Neck Woods State Park.
Springfield, Massachusetts is 2.5 hours away from Boston on Amtrak’s Lake Shore Limited route. There’s only one train each day, so you’ll need to stay overnight, but there are many family-friendly things to check out. Top attractions include the Basketball Hall of Fame, The Amazing World of Dr. Seuss Museum and Forest Park, which has greenspace designed by Fredrick Law Olmstead and a zoo. As another perk, the Springfield Amtrak Station is in walking distance of restaurants and hotels.
New York City
See a show, visit museums and attractions, shop and dine on a trip to New York City. Travel time is just under four hours on the Acela Express and almost 4.5 on the Northeast Regional, with departures from South Station and Back Bay Station. You’ll arrive in Penn Station‘s new train hall with easy access to the subway, taxis and rideshare services. An overnight stay is recommended due to the Amtrak schedule and the many things to see and do.
Albany is five hours away from Boston via Amtrak’s Lake Shore Limited train. There’s a lot of history and breweries to explore, including the 1899 New York State Capitol building, New York State Museum and USS Slater. In warmer months, you can also cruise on the Hudson River and walk around Washington Park.
Plan to stay at least one night in Albany as there is only one daily train in each direction. To get around, use Uber or Lyft, or arrange for Enterprise to pick you up at the train station with a car rental.
Head to Philadelphia for cheesesteaks, special events and historic attractions including the Liberty Bell and Independence Hall. You can book tickets on the Acela Express (five-hour ride from Boston) or Northeast Regional (five hours and 45 minutes away), with departures from South and Back Bay stations. Trains arrive at the historic 30th Street Station near The Franklin Institute and Philadelphia Museum of Art, and there is easy access to bike rentals, commuter trains, subway trains and rideshare services.
With multiple trains to choose from each day, you can technically spend about five hours in the city and return to Boston same day.
For a relaxing getaway with parks, museums and a riverwalk, ride Amtrak from Boston to Wilmington, Delaware. Amtrak trains arrive at the historic Joseph R. Biden Jr. Railroad Station, and you can walk to downtown Wilmington, rent a car at the station or use Lyft and Uber to get around. Check out upcoming events that you can plan a trip around, and make arrangements to stay at least one night. Travel time is just over five hours on Acela and just over six hours on the Northeast Regional.
Baltimore is about six hours away from Boston by train on the Acela Express and seven hours away via the Northeast Regional trains. Because of the hour of time saved, the Acela Express may be worth the extra the cost. Uber and Lyft are recommended ways to get around once you arrive; the Inner Harbor is about a 10-minute car ride away. Top attractions in the area include crab cakes, National Aquarium, Fort McHenry National Monument, B&O Railroad Museum and the historic Fell’s Point neighborhood. Plan to stay at least one night in the city.
With free museums, stately monuments, numerous events and a huge restaurant scene, there is always something to do and eat in Washington D.C. The train trip from Boston is seven hours via the Northeast Regional and about 8 hours on the Acela Express. DC’s Union Station has a direct connection to the WMATA red line, so you can easily get around without a car. Many tours are also available to help you see the many sights.
Almost eight hours away from Boston on the Lake Shore Limited, Utica is a charming city that has things to do all year long. Explore museums, the zoo, local breweries, a large public market and a scenic railroad. Plus, in the winter you rent a car at the nearby Enterprise and drive 30 minutes to the Woods Valley Ski Area. There are multiple hotels near the historic train station or check out vacation rentals in more scenic areas outside of town for a true getaway.
Virginia Beach is a family-friendly destination that’s 13 hours away from Boston on Amtrak. It’s the southernmost beach that you can reach on one train (otherwise, you have to transfer in New York City or D.C. to the Palmetto, Silver Meteor or Silver Star to reach the Carolinas, Georgia and Florida). The closest Amtrak station is Norfolk, where you will need to rent a car (Hertz is closest and can pick you up) or take Uber or Lyft to the ocean. Don’t miss the boardwalk, Virginia Aquarium and Marine Center and Neptune’s Park, which has free concerts.
If you want to an experience a long-distance Amtrak trip and spend a night on the train, travel from Boston’s South or Back Bay Station to Chicago. Travel time is about 22 hours on the Lake Shore Limited route, with the option to book a roomette or bedroom for private sleeping accommodations.
The Chicago Amtrak Station is next to a water taxi stop, or you can walk to multiple CTA train stations and hotels in The Loop. There’s something for everyone here, including beaches, museums, live music venues and plenty of restaurants for steak, pizza and everything in between.
Trains arrive in Chicago in the morning and depart at night, so you could technically get off and back on the train on the same day, but staying in the city at least one night is recommended.
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Top photo credit: Wendell Ward