Suggestions for October trip...

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kentuckian1977

Service Attendant
Joined
Apr 7, 2010
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126
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Somerset, Kentucky
I am thinking of possibly going somewhere on Amtrak this October, and I'm very open to starting the trip with a roadtrip to a departure station. I have already thought of several possible options, but I would just like to also get some input from all of you, based on what I roughly have in mind, and my (limited) budget:

I will be on vacation from work from October 16-24. I would like to go somewhere for part of that time - I have in mind spending 24 hours or less on the train each way, and probably either one or two nights in a hotel at the destination. I am open to driving in order to depart from anywhere within about a 500 mile radius of here in Central Kentucky where there is safe, free (or cheap) parking at the station. The thing is, I'm not really interested in visiting a major city. I would like to go to somewhere that is an interesting small or medium sized city, preferably walkable, preferably with a place to stay for a night or two within walking distance (or reasonable taxi ride) of the station. This may sound odd to impossible, but on the other hand, I just thought maybe some of you might be from, or have visited, somewhere like this that you'll immediately think of that might fit the bill. Please keep in mind too that I'm probably not going to be able to spend much over about $500.00 total at the most (and less would be great!) on the Amtrak tickets portion of this round trip. I'm open to either something that involves a cheap enough roomette for one night each way to keep it within that budget, or suggestions about whether or not I'd totally regret just doing coach for one night. (Or of course an all day type of trip that didn't require an overnight at all.) Myself, I've sort of thinking of trying to find somewhere that fits what I'm looking for in the South, maybe some small town on the City or Crescent route, or on one of the Silver's routes. Or maybe even somewhere small in New England via the Lynchburger, but thanks in advance for any ideas, because that is the point of this post.

Edit: RE: the budget for tickets - I should also have pointed out that this will be a trip I'll be taking alone.
 
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Devil's Advocate

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I was raised in a small walkable city I'd recommend to anyone, but it's out West and is more than 24-hours away by train. Just out of curiosity, can you give us some examples of similarly sized towns you've enjoyed walking around in the past?
 

kentuckian1977

Service Attendant
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Somerset, Kentucky
I was raised in a small walkable city I'd recommend to anyone, but it's out West and is more than 24-hours away by train. Just out of curiosity, can you give us some examples of similarly sized towns you've enjoyed walking around in the past?
I haven't really traveled a lot yet to be honest, and when I have most of my trips in the past to interesting small and mid-sized places have all been roadtrips only, where obviously I had the car. The walkable thing isn't a total dealbreaker anyway; I just don't want to rent a car, so somewhere interesting that has hotels and somewhere to eat within a reasonable taxi trip from the station would work too. I'm just a sucker for small town quirkiness and retro-ness, over bigger cities. Anyway, if I get to (finally) do it, this'll be my first actual long distance Amtrak trip. Maybe a good way to give everyone an idea of the kind of place I have in mind, would be some of the many places I've looked at online when thinking about this and looking at the different Amtrak routes. The closest stations for me are Cincinnati, Maysville or Ashland on the Cardinal's route, but I'm open to maybe driving to (for some examples) Missouri, Illinois, Virginia, or North Carolina, to get on a train, obviously depending on which train. As far as destinations, I haven't visited any of these before myself:

Cardinal: Staunton, Charlottesville or Manassass, Virginia. (none of these would be much of a ride though - only half a day or so, but it would be through the New River George at leaf time though.) Have also thought about doing a Cardinal/Crescent connection at Charlottesville to go somewhere on south.

Crescent: Anniston, Alabama, Meridian, Mississippi, Hattiesburg, Mississippi, or somewhere in that area.

Silvers (out of North Carolina): Winter Park, Florida. (downtown looks very interesting on google maps streetview.)

"Lynchburger": Old Saybrook, Connecticut, or somewhere similiar in that region.

CONO (out of central IL): One of the towns in Mississippi or either Hammond, Louisiana.

Texas Eagle (out of Alton, IL): Somewhere in Texas, or either connecting and going to somewhere on the Heartland Flyer's route.

Also have thought of using the Lincoln Service/River Runner out of Alton to connect to the SWC and go somewhere west of KC.

Obviously I'm pretty open on this, within my budget at least.
 

rrdude

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I'm sure you'll get a ton of suggestions, which is what you want, so here's my two cents: The time frame you are travelling is pretty good for Fall colors, and the Adirondack (NYP-Montreal) is a hidden gem, especially if you catch a day with the Full Length Dome Car. Montreal is DEF walkable, but not "cheap" either.

I waited FAR TOO LONG to take this trip, and now plan on doing it every year, it's just that scenic. However, you need the proper passport/ID card for the border too, and that would put a dent in your budget if you don't have it...

I think ANYwhere up in N.E. would be great for walkability, and your choices of Old Saybrook is ideal. If you like tourist railroads, fall is a good time for them too, and several offer "Fall Color Tour" trips, and N.E. has it's share of tourist operators, see, One Web Site For Tourist RR.

Wisconsin Dells is also nice, a bit kitschy, but nice. Spend a day there, then hop on the EB, and get to Minneapolis/St. Paul. Both nice (hidden gems too) cities. Take in a Twins game. If you like baseball, you could plan any one of several major league cities. (Chicago, Milkwaukee, the list goes on and on)

Good luck!
 

Palmland

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May 25, 2006
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Central Florida
It sounds like you have a nice idea for a trip. My vote, given your preferences, would be the relatively short drive to Huntington. Then you have a nice daylight trip through the spectacular fall scenery along the route of the Cardinal to Charlottesville. That is a very walkable city with a nice downtown. Take a left at the station and just a block or so to a Hampton Inn and the University of Virginia. A stunning campus (with Mr. Jefferson's help), and a tour to see his home, Monticello. Take a right at the station and a couple blocks will have you downtown with its pedestrian mall. Many good restaurants, bookstore, antique dealers etc. Might not want to be there on a football weekend though.
 

The Metropolitan

OBS Chief
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Apr 13, 2006
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I second Charlottesville. There are at least 3 hotels within an easy walk of the station, including a Hampton Inn within a block west, a Marriott maybe 2 blocks further, and I think a Super8 or Motel6 just a little but further west.

Montecello, UVa, and the convenient Downtown "Mall" will all make for nice places to go, though you might need wheels to hit Montecello unless you are feeling a bit walk happy, though I think the CTS buses go within reasonable distance of there on Weekdays and Saturdays.
 

Bob Dylan

50+ Year Amtrak Rider
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May 31, 2009
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Austin Texas
I'll third Charlottesville and the Cardinal, the best combo of what you are wanting!(nice train ride but in coach since the sleepers are high bucket/sold out,also only three days a week schedule but still doable,great town,fairly cheap,walkable but as the previous poster said dont go on a footbal weekend!) The Adirondack trip is fantastic, you could also get off before the Canadian border in Port Kent and spend a night or two but this would involve an overnight in NYC which is pricey and you want to avoid big cities!)On your return you could ride to WAS,catch the CL back which gives you an easy ride to CHI, then hop the Cardinal back towards home! Lots of good suggestions but Id say the small southern towns on the CONO and Crescent route arent that great IMO! If you did want a Big City, as Rafi found out KCY is a hidden gem, catch the MORR from STL or ride down from CHI on the Lincoln Service through STL on to KCY! You could even take the SWC Chief back from KCY-CHI giving you another route! Please feel free to ask any questiuons, do some test bookings, it's a great idea, I'm envious! :cool:
 

kentuckian1977

Service Attendant
Joined
Apr 7, 2010
Messages
126
Location
Somerset, Kentucky
Thanks everyone, some great suggestions so far. I'll definitely think about some of the places you mentioned, and will post more later if I decide on something. Of course all this may be out the window if NS really does mainline steam excursions again this fall, but that's a different story :)
 
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