First time on Amtrak

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CTANut

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I am planning to travel on Amtrak for the first time ever from Toledo, Ohio to Kingman, AZ on December 17th. I will be traveling in a sleeper on one of the three daily trains that run along the corridor. I am considering cancelling my ticket for the segment from Toledo to Chicago, primarily because of the cost. In place of that I am considering taking the South Shore Line from South Bend to Chicago, where I then will catch the Southwest Chief. I know I could take the "sunrise express" from South Bend, but does anyone have any other tips or tricks for my trip there? I know that day I am responsible for lunch on my own, because the first meal on the SWC is dinner. Either way, I will have a 6 hour layover in Chicago for this. Does anyone have any ideas for what to do while I am there for it? I was thinking for my lunch that I could take the CTA to State/Lake and grab lunch there. I have read through the FAQ, but I would appreciate any more ideas. In addition, I am curious what the menu will look like, etc. Lastly, will they serve breakfast on the day I arrive on my way to Chicago, if I take the LSL/CL?

One last thing, but what equipment will likely run on both trains? I assume it will be a "Viewliner" for the Toledo-Chicago segment, and a "Superliner" for the remaning distance. Also, anyone have any railfanning tips/railroad attractions along the way, as I will be driving back. That said, Chicago has a quarantine order for people coming from my state, so will that affect me at all. I appreciate the feedback.
 
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PVD

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December weather can be touchy in Chicago, might eliminate all of the great things you can do walking around. But depending on what you like, there a ton of stuff a quick bus or cab ride away, museums, exhibits, planetarium, and aquarium you have a sleeper, so you can stash stuff in the lounge....just carry your valuables. Hopefully, things will not deteriorate in Chicago, closing up stuff again.
 

CTANut

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December weather can be touchy in Chicago, might eliminate all of the great things you can do walking around. But depending on what you like, there a ton of stuff a quick bus or cab ride away, museums, exhibits, planetarium, and aquarium you have a sleeper, so you can stash stuff in the lounge....just carry your valuables. Hopefully, things will not deteriorate in Chicago, closing up stuff again.
I have traveled to Chicago twice before, but with COVID I was not sure what it would be like, or the weather, especially because I went in March/May.
 
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PVD

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March can be tricky... if it's mostly open, Chicago has a lot to see and do weather willing!
 

brianpmcdonnell17

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If you take the Capitol Limited from Toledo you would be in a Superliner, whereas the Lake Shore Limited uses Amfleets and Viewliners. Either way you would be in a Superliner west of Chicago.

Also, keep in mind all three routes are currently running tri-weekly, although they are all scheduled to be in Chicago the same three days to allow for connections (Monday, Thursday, and Saturday).

If you decide to take the South Shore Line, that goes into Millennium Station, which is on the other side of the Loop from Union Station. If using public transit, take the Pink or Purple lines from Washington/Wabash to Quincy. It's also walkable in 30 minutes or so.

As to the quarantine, technically you shouldn't do anything outside the station if your state is on the list at that time. However, enforcement is entirely non-existent. At the moment, all indoor seating in the city is closed although that might change by December.

Weather in mid-December in Chicago averages highs in the mid 30s and lows in the low 20s, but it wouldn't be unusual to be 20+ degrees off of the average.
 

caravanman

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My advice would be to hope for the best, but be prepared for less...
There should be some food options open in Union Station, but who knows what may change these days? If you are unable to leave the station due to weather or observing Covid restrictions, maybe bring some sandwiches, etc, from home as backup.
Breakfast should be available on the trains into Chicago.
You may consider coach at $35 rather than a sleeper for the portion to Chicago?
As to how to pass the time... I just wander about in amazement, enjoying the architecture, the "EL", the whole buzz!
 

Bob Dylan

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My advice would be to hope for the best, but be prepared for less...
There should be some food options open in Union Station, but who knows what may change these days? If you are unable to leave the station due to weather or observing Covid restrictions, maybe bring some sandwiches, etc, from home as backup.
Breakfast should be available on the trains into Chicago.
You may consider coach at $35 rather than a sleeper for the portion to Chicago?
As to how to pass the time... I just wander about in amazement, enjoying the architecture, the "EL", the whole buzz!
Right now in Chicago all Indoor dining is prohibited, so not sure where you could eat takeout except perhaps in the Metro Lounge( IF anything place is Open in the Food Court???)
 

John Santos

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Just back from NJ. Could someone explain to me what the difference is between indoor dining and dining in a tent with all the sides enclosed??? The restaurants in Jersey have put up tents, fully enclosed, with space heaters...DOH...seem like being "indoors" to me.
Using "DOH" and NJ in the same sentence? Who'd have thunk it?
 

brianpmcdonnell17

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Just back from NJ. Could someone explain to me what the difference is between indoor dining and dining in a tent with all the sides enclosed??? The restaurants in Jersey have put up tents, fully enclosed, with space heaters...DOH...seem like being "indoors" to me.
I think the idea of the tents is that you are only enclosed with those at your table.
 

jiml

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I think the idea of the tents is that you are only enclosed with those at your table.
I don't know about New Jersey, but the outdoor dining tents here all have multiple tables. It's generally considered as a loophole to the indoor dining rules. Same risk as eating indoors IMHO, but meets the legal requirements. I'd be surprised if other jurisdictions are not doing the same.
 

Bob Dylan

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I don't know about New Jersey, but the outdoor dining tents here all have multiple tables. It's generally considered as a loophole to the indoor dining rules. Same risk as eating indoors IMHO, but meets the legal requirements. I'd be surprised if other jurisdictions are not doing the same.
I liked the Plastic Bubbles with privacy curtains they use in some European Countries and Sweden! It's like having your own private dining room!

Here in Austin we currently have 75% Occupancy for Dine in IF Social Distancing is possible, lots of places are too small, and some still only have take out and delivery available, including Mickey Ds,Taco Bell and KFC!!
 

jiml

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I liked the Plastic Bubbles with privacy curtains they use in some European Countries and Sweden! It's like having your own private dining room!
We're getting those too - just on the news this week. The tents are apparently more difficult to heat evenly than these "bubbles", and you of all people know what the weather's going to be like here soon.;) Our idea of dining out is still going to a drive-through and eating in the car. I took my wife for a glamorous lunch at A&W for our recent anniversary. I'm not cheap - just cautious.🤣
 

me_little_me

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Since you'll be on your own for lunch, make it a lunchtime dinner as you might not want to eat all/any of the Amtrak TV Dinners unless by then they have gone back to last year's food.
At least you won't be able to have a comparison between today's junk and yesterday's dining since you never had the opportunity to experience it.
 

Everydaymatters

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Now that my "district" is going to outdoor and carryout only, the entire state of Illinois is shut out of indoor dining. December is not the best time to visit Chicago. You might want take a good book and hunker down in the Metropolitan Lounge during your layover if it's bad out. If the weather is decent, and all the windows are intact along Michigan Avenue, you might could check out the Christmas displays in the store windows. As I write this on election day, stores have boarded up their windows in anticipation of what will follow todays results. Sorry to sound so glum, but it is what it is.
 

joelkfla

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So if the tables in the food court are off limits, would getting a bag of food at one of the vendors in the station (if open) or at a nearby establishment, and eating it on a bench in the Great Hall (or in the Metro Lounge, if they allow it to be brought in), qualify as "carryout", or would it be illegal "indoor dining"?
 

Dakota 400

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some still only have take out and delivery available, including Mickey Ds,Taco Bell and KFC!!
I am surprised that by this time restaurants such as these still do not offer indoor dining in the areas that permit it. What's there thinking? KFC is still OK for me to get and get it home while the food is still warm. McDonald's, the food is not as good as it would be if I were eating it in their restaurant. This discourages me from patronizing them.
 

jiml

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I am surprised that by this time restaurants such as these still do not offer indoor dining in the areas that permit it. What's there thinking? KFC is still OK for me to get and get it home while the food is still warm. McDonald's, the food is not as good as it would be if I were eating it in their restaurant. This discourages me from patronizing them.
Both of these chains in my area still have takeout only despite indoor dining being restored here in July. The problem is apparently having to offer bathroom facilities if they open indoor tables. To quote the sign in the one "Washrooms are reserved for staff and essential workers only". The latter was a concession to a government request to support truck drivers and first responders who had no other option.
 

Cho Cho Charlie

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I don't know about New Jersey, but the outdoor dining tents here all have multiple tables. It's generally considered as a loophole to the indoor dining rules. Same risk as eating indoors IMHO, but meets the legal requirements. I'd be surprised if other jurisdictions are not doing the same.
The outdoor seating around here was in open-sided tents (with the colder weather, these tents are disappearing). I assume the theory was that the wind would blow away (disperse) any of the COVID-19 virus which became air-borne.
 

Cho Cho Charlie

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Both of these chains in my area still have takeout only despite indoor dining being restored here in July. The problem is apparently having to offer bathroom facilities if they open indoor tables. To quote the sign in the one "Washrooms are reserved for staff and essential workers only". The latter was a concession to a government request to support truck drivers and first responders who had no other option.
I think the indoor dining still be closed at fast food joints are for various reasons.

These places are already setup for takeout (they have drive-up windows). So, it was easy for them to change their focus onto that style of service.

Their dining rooms have several pandemic "no-no's" beyond bathrooms, like self serve soda, napkins, and condiments (ketchup, etc). Though, this might be the perfect excuse for McD's to stop offering free refills.
 

MilwaukeeRoadLover

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The outdoor seating around here was in open-sided tents (with the colder weather, these tents are disappearing). I assume the theory was that the wind would blow away (disperse) any of the COVID-19 virus which became air-borne.
We have a lot of heated tents: 65 to 70 deg temps with air circulation.
 

Dakota 400

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Both of these chains in my area still have takeout only despite indoor dining being restored here in July. The problem is apparently having to offer bathroom facilities if they open indoor tables. To quote the sign in the one "Washrooms are reserved for staff and essential workers only". The latter was a concession to a government request to support truck drivers and first responders who had no other option.
[/QUOTE


I think the indoor dining still be closed at fast food joints are for various reasons.

These places are already setup for takeout (they have drive-up windows). So, it was easy for them to change their focus onto that style of service.

Their dining rooms have several pandemic "no-no's" beyond bathrooms, like self serve soda, napkins, and condiments (ketchup, etc). Though, this might be the perfect excuse for McD's to stop offering free refills.
I appreciate both of your responses. I had not considered any of those things that you both mentioned.

It may also be due to some cost cutting as an employee would not be needed to regularly sanitize the tables, counters, etc.
 

jiml

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It may also be due to some cost cutting as an employee would not be needed to regularly sanitize the tables, counters, etc.
Also an excellent possibility. Like yours, our KFC is close enough to get it home hot, whereas at McD we've gotten used to eating in the car. It kind of brings back memories of dating a very long time ago. ;)
 
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