Two Amtrak routes travel from Chicago to New York City: Lake Shore Limited and the Cardinal. Both are long-distance routes with sleeping accommodations — you’ll spend a night on the train. Coach seats are also available and are less expensive. To start planning your trip, here’s what you need to know about each option.
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Lake Shore Limited
The Lake Shore Limited is the fastest way to travel between Chicago and New York City by train. Travel time is about 20 hours. There is one train each day, which departs Chicago at night. You’ll wake up in Pennsylvania or in Upstate New York depending on how late you sleep in.
Once you reach Albany, you’ll want to be on the right side of the train to view the Hudson River — if you’re not sitting on this side of the train, you can head to the café car. After several hours of travel in the Hudson River Valley, the Lake Shore Limited arrives at New York Penn Station around dinnertime.
Travel time between Chicago and New York City on the Cardinal is about 27.5 hours. This route departs from Chicago in the early evening and travels through Indiana, part of Ohio and Kentucky before reaching scenic West Virginia in the morning.
Views of the New River Gorge (view video) make up for the longer travel time (sit on the right side of the train for river views or head to the café car for the scenery). However, the Cardinal only operates three days each week, which may not work with your schedule. We also recommend booking your sleeping accommodations early because roomettes and bedrooms sell out quickly.
Before arriving in Manhattan, the Cardinal also travels though valleys and mountains in Virginia, then stops in big cities on the East Coast, including Washington D.C. and Philadelphia. Arrival time at New York Penn Station is at night, so plan to use a taxi or rideshare service to reach your final destination.