If you’re ready to get out and explore, consider an Amtrak trip from St. Louis. Missouri River Runner, Lincoln Service and Texas Eagle trains stop at the Gateway Transportation Center and travel to destinations near and far. Several day trips are doable or travel overnight to Texas, Arizona and California.
To view your options, here are the best Amtrak trips from St. Louis that don’t require a train transfer or middle-of-the-night travel. For current train schedules and ticket prices, visit Amtrak.com.
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Travel 1.5 hours to Hermann, Missouri for a small town with European charm. Settled by German immigrants, you can learn about the town’s history at the Deutschheim State Historic Site, Historic Hermann Museum and Hermann Farm Museum. There are also many local wineries and tasting rooms to explore. For more things to do, consider planning your trip around a special event such as Oktoberfest and the seasonal German Christmas market.
A day trip is an option or stay overnight in walking distance of the Amtrak station, including at the Wharf Street Inn, The Inn at Hermannhof or the Wohlt House.
Springfield, Illinois is great destination if you love history. You can visit the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum, Lincoln Home National Historic Site and the Illinois State Museum here. Other attractions include Route 66, the historic Cozy Dog Drive In and a Frank Lloyd Wright house.
About two hours away from St. Louis via Amtrak, you can spend a day or weekend here. The State House Inn, Wyndham Springfield Center and DoubleTree Hotel are closest to the Amtrak station and near tourist areas.
Jefferson City, Missouri is another easy Amtrak day trip from St. Louis. Trip time is about 2.5 hours and you’ll arrive next to the Missouri River and the walkable downtown area. Top attractions include the former Missouri State Penitentiary, Missouri State Museum and the Jefferson Landing Historic Site. Kids will enjoy the Runge Conservation Nature Center or explore the outdoors on the bike trails (bike rentals in walking distance of the train station). Consider checking out the Salute to America festival in July and Oktoberfest in September.
Step back in time with an Amtrak trip to Independence. The Harry Truman Presidential Library and Museum and National Historic Site are the major attractions, and you can also tour or go to an event at the Vaile Mansion (built in 1881). Rail fans will enjoy visiting to the 1879 Chicago and Alton Railroad Depot or check out the National Frontier Trails Museum to learn about the movement of pioneers out west.
Travel time from St. Louis is just over five hours. It’s best to stay overnight at least one night (the Woodstock Inn Bed and Breakfast is a short walk from the Amtrak station). However, if trains are on time, you have a couple hours to sightsee before returning to St. Louis. You can walk to downtown Independence, the National Frontier Trails Museum and the Truman Historic Site in 20 minutes or less. Otherwise, use rideshare or rent a car (Enterprise has pickup service).
For great food, live music, museums and boat tours, head to Chicago. Travel time is about 5.5 hours and you’ll arrive near the Chicago River and a water taxi stop. There are many festivals and events to plan a trip around or visit top attractions, including the 360 Chicago Observation Deck, Millennium Park, Chicago Riverwalk, Navy Pier and Wrigley Field.
Plan to stay in Chicago at least one night. Popular hotel areas include the Loop, West Loop and River North, which are all near the Amtrak station. For more train travel ideas, check out the best Amtrak trips from Chicago (many trains depart from the city and travel across America).
Kansas City, Missouri is full of barbecue, distilleries, museums and more than 200 water fountains. It’s a laid-back urban getaway with the option to experience the arts, sports and trendy venues without big-city crowds. Consider visiting in the summer and fall for the best weather and the most events.
Travel time is about 5 hours and 40 minutes from St. Louis. You’ll arrive at the beautiful Union Station, which has restaurants, a planetarium, live performance venue and a model train gallery. A short walk away is the National World War I Museum along with several hotels, including Sheraton Crown Center, The Westin, Hotel Indigo Crossroads and Home2 Suites.
Explore a variety of attractions on an overnight Amtrak trip to Dallas. Travel time from St. Louis is about 15.5 hours and you’ll arrive near the Dealey Plaza Historic District and Reunion Tower, which has an observation deck. The Dallas Arboretum, Trinity River trails and White Rock Lake Park are great ways to enjoy the outdoors, and for nightlife, restaurants and trolley rides, be sure to visit Uptown.
Across the street from the Amtrak station are two hotels: Courtyard by Marriott and La Quinta Inn & Suites. The Omni is also about a block away. For more options, Lyft and Uber can take you to top hotels in other parts of the city.
Plan a trip to Fort Worth to attend the winter rodeo, eat barbecue and visit other top attractions, including the Fort Worth Botanic Garden, Fort Worth Zoo and Sundance Square. There are also several museums and trails along the Trinity River to check out.
Travel time is about 17.5 hours and you’ll need to stay in Fort Worth at least one night. Hotels closest to the Amtrak station include Sheraton Downtown Fort Worth, The Omni, Fairfield Inn & Suites and Hampton Inn & Suites.
Austin is a beautiful city full of live music, outdoor activities and food. Travel time on the train is about 22.5 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 6th Street. A day trip to Hill Country for wine tasting is another fun activity.
San Antonio is full of things to do for kids and adults. The city is famous for its River Walk and historic Spanish missions, including the Alamo. Other top attractions include Fiesta Texas Six Flags, SeaWorld, Natural Bridge Caverns and the San Antonio Botanical Garden.
Travel time is about 26 hours on the train. 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 rideshare services to reach lodging that is farther away.
For Southwest culture, food and desert landscapes, head to Tucson. Travel time is about 49.5 hours and you’ll spend two nights on the train. Top places to visit include the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum (which has a zoo, museum, gardens and art galleries), Saguaro National Park (pictured top of page), Mission San Xavier del Bac, Historic Fourth Avenue and the many great restaurants.
We recommend renting a car to see local attractions, especially if you want to visit the national park. The nearby Enterprise rental car office can pick you up with a reservation. Hotel Congress and AC Hotel Downtown Tucson are closest to the Amtrak station (walking time is less than five minutes). View the best places to stay in the city for more ideas.
For an epic train trip from St. Louis, you can travel three nights and almost 60 hours on the Texas Eagle to reach Los Angeles. Some of the top attractions to check out include the Getty Center, Griffith Observatory (pictured above), Universal Studios Hollywood and the Santa Monica Pier. City tours are a great way to see the sights or use rideshare to get around.
For places to stay near the attractions, check out hotels in Hollywood, West Hollywood, Beverly Hills and Santa Monica. Because of the long travel time, consider flying back to St. Louis from one of the area airports.
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Top photo Saguaro National Park by Joe Parks