Best Amtrak trips from Dallas

Lake Travis (near Austin) at sunset

Texas Eagle Amtrak trains stop in Dallas and can take you to destinations across the United States. There is daily service to Chicago and San Antonio (and to all the stations along the way), but if you plan to travel west of San Antonio (including to California), train frequency is only three days each week. However, rail getaways are easily doable if you plan around the schedule.

See the best Amtrak trips from Dallas below to explore the top destinations that don’t involve travel in the middle-of-the-night. For rail schedules, go to Amtrak.com and start the ticket booking process on the homepage.

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Fort Worth

Fort Worth Stock Yards
Photo by Briaande/Wikimedia Commons

About one hour away from Dallas via Amtrak train, Fort Worth is known for its cattle drives (pictured above), winter rodeo and barbecue restaurants. The Fort Worth Botanic Garden, Fort Worth Zoo and Sundance Square, which is full of shops and restaurants, are other great places to visit while you’re in town.

Because of the train schedule, you’ll need to stay in Fort Worth for at least one night or use Lyft or Uber to return home (drive time between the two cities is about 30 minutes). Hotels closest to the Amtrak station include Sheraton Downtown Fort Worth, The Omni, Fairfield Inn & Suites and Hampton Inn & Suites.

Austin

Austin skyline
Photo by Michael Barera

Austin is a beautiful city full of live musicoutdoor activities and food. Travel time on the train is about six hours with an arrival around dinnertime. There’s plenty of nightlife to enjoy after you arrive (and bat watching on the Congress bridge). On the following day, you can explore top attractions, including the Lady Bird Lake Trail, the LBJ Presidential Library and South Congress Avenue. You can also take a day trip to Hill Country or Lake Travis (pictured top of page) for more things to do.

If you need a car, Enterprise is near the Amtrak station and pick-up service is available with a reservation. Otherwise, Lyft and Uber are ways to get around, or check out one the many Austin tours to explore the area.

The return train to Dallas departs in the morning, so consider staying at least two nights if you want to sightsee. Marriott’s Austin Proper Hotel, Canopy by Hilton and the Loren Hotel are closest to the Amtrak station if you’re looking for a nearby place to stay.

San Marcos

For a relaxing outdoor getaway, consider a train trip to San Marcos. The San Marcos River flows near downtown (and the Amtrak station) and is one of the major attractions. You can tubekayak or paddleboard down the river, and glass-bottom boat tours of Spring Lake are also available. Trails are next to the water if you’d rather stay on land.

Shopping at the San Marcos Premium Outlets and Tanger Outlets is another top thing to do along with the Wonder World Cave and Adventure Park.

Travel time is about seven hours and trains arrive in the early evening and return to Dallas in the morning. You’ll need to stay in San Marcos two nights in order to have a full day to explore. Econo Lodge is closest to the station (9-minute walk) or check out the top hotels in the area.

San Antonio

San Antonio Riverwalk
Photo by Randy von Liski

If you’re looking for a destination that has something for everyone, considering traveling to San Antonio. The city is famous for its River Walk and historic Spanish missions, including the Alamo (also known as Mission San Antonio de Valero). There’s also Fiesta Texas Six Flags, SeaWorld, Natural Bridge Caverns, San Antonio Botanical Garden and more to check out.

Travel time is about 10 hours on the train with an arrival at night. The train back to Dallas departs early each morning, so you’ll want to stay at least two nights in the city or book a flight home to have more flexibility. Several hotels (including Staybridge Suites, City View Inn and Holiday Inn Express) are in walking distance of the Amtrak station, or you can rent a car (pick-up service available) or use carshare services to reach lodging that is farther away.

St. Louis

Busch Stadium in St. Louis
Photo by Alex Lewis

Almost 16 hours away from Dallas on the Texas Eagle, St. Louis is a fun vacation destination. The Gateway Arch is the famous attraction, and other great things to do include the City MuseumMissouri Botanical Gardencraft beer scene and the massive Forest Park, which is 1,300 acres and contains lakes, nature areas, museums and the St. Louis Zoo. For extra fun, you can plan your trip around a St. Louis Cardinal gameTaste of St. LouisFair Saint Louis and other major events.

Trains arrive early in the morning after traveling overnight and return to Dallas in the evening, so you can technically make St. Louis a day trip. Lyft and Uber are easy ways to get around and there’s also a nearby connection to MetroLink light rail. For more mobility, you can rent a car at Enterprise (pick-up service available).

If you decide to stay overnight, the OYO Hotel is next to the St. Louis Amtrak Station, or walk less than 15 minutes to the Drury Inn or the stunning St. Louis Union Station Hotel, which is inside the old passenger train station.

Springfield

Abraham Lincoln Presidential Museum
Photo by Randy von Liski

Springfield, the Illinois capital, is about 18 hours away from Dallas via Amtrak train. Top attractions include the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and MuseumLincoln Home National Historic Site and the Illinois State Museum. Plus, you can check out Route 66, including some of the original segments, and the historic Cozy Dog Drive In while you’re visiting the city.

The train arrives in the morning and you have the option to return same day in early evening. If you decide to stay in Springfield for a night or longer, the State House InnWyndham Springfield Center and DoubleTree Hotel are closest to the Amtrak station and near tourist areas.

Chicago

Chicago skyline
Photo courtesy Pixabay

Chicago is the last stop on the Texas Eagle route if you are traveling northeast from Dallas. It’s an overnight 22-hour trip with plenty of sightseeing opportunities once you arrive. World-class museumsbeachesNavy PierWrigley Field, Magnificent Mile and Willis Tower are some of the popular attractions. Music-lovers should also check out one of the many live music venues and foodies should plan to dine at Chicago’s top restaurants.

Plan to stay at least one night in Chicago. The Texas Eagle arrives and departs in the afternoon each day, so you can spend about 24 hours in the city or stay two nights or longer to have more time to explore.

Tucson

Tucson Arizona skyline with mountains
Photo courtesy Max Pixel

For Southwest culture, food and desert landscapes, head to Tucson. Travel time is about 33 hours and you’ll spend a night on the train. Top places to visit include the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum (which has a zoo, gardens and museum exhibits), Saguaro National ParkMission San Xavier del BacHistoric Fourth Avenue and the many great restaurants. Check out the event calendar for more activity ideas.

Trains depart Dallas on Saturday, Monday and Wednesday and you’ll arrive in Tucson on the next day in the evening. For the return trip, choose from morning train departures on Thursday, Saturday or Monday. Here are some of the popular trip options:

  • Depart Dallas on Wednesday (arrival in Tucson on Thursday evening) and board the return train on Saturday morning (arrival in Dallas on Sunday)
  • Depart Dallas on Saturday (arrival in Tucson on Sunday evening) and board the return train on Thursday morning (arrival in Dallas on Friday).

Los Angeles

Hollywood Sign Los Angeles
Photo by Russell Mondy

For an epic long-distance Amtrak trip, travel to Los Angeles on the Texas Eagle. Travel time is almost 44 hours and you’ll arrive early in the morning at the beautiful L.A. Union Station near Chinatown. Use Lyft or Uber to get around, or rent a car at Hertz or Budget (offices inside the station). Other transportation options include bus service to LAX Airport and Dodger Stadium, Metro subway and Metrolink commuter trains.

Some of the top attractions to check out include the Getty CenterGriffith Observatory (pictured above), Universal Studios Hollywood, Universal Studios Hollywood and the Hollywood SignCity tours are a great way to see the large city.

There are multiple airports in and near Los Angeles if you want to shorten the trip home. Otherwise, trains back to Dallas depart on Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays.

More Information

Top photo credit: Geoff Livingston