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This Thrilling Train Explores The South’s Most Cultural Cities To Iconic California Beaches

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Europe's stunning train routes and Asia's lightning-quick bullet trains are not the only places to hit the rails.

In fact, one could easily argue the U.S. is one of the best destinations to travel by train.

Just temper expectations for speed as California hasn't quite lived up to the hype for the America's first bullet train.

Jackson Square in New Orleans

If time's on your side and you just want to sit back, relax, and get there when you get there, the US of A is just the place.

Amtrak offers travelers routes all across America, but the Sunset Limited has to be the cream of the crop.

This thrilling train ride explores the South's most cultural cities, through the desert, and ends with a grande finale at iconic California beaches.

Make sure to grab a window seat!

First Stop: The Big Easy

New Orleans skyline

Foodies, unite! One of the most cultural (and tasty) cities in America is your springboard to the trip of a lifetime all without needing a passport.

This historic city blends European vibes, southern hospitality, and world-renowned nightlife all in one.

Louisiana's top destination is also home to the best hotel in the country, making for the perfect place to rest up in luxury before heading out for an epic adventure to the West Coast.

Next Up: Everything Is Bigger In Texas

The next major stop from New Orleans is one of the biggest cities in the country, and the biggest city in Texas, for sure, is Houston.

San Antonio riverwalk

With a booming underground music scene, fun attractions like the Livestock Show and Rodeo and the space center, you won't have any problems here.

Coincidentally, your next noteworthy stops are a pair of cultural Texas cities, both breaking tourism records – San Antonio and El Paso.

Of course, San Antonio is far more popular with historical site of The Alamo and the famous Riverwalk well worth a visit for shopping, Tex-Mex cuisine and margarita sippin'.

But don't skip out on El Paso. This underrated city sandwiched between New Mexico and Mexico is a melting pot of cultures.

Tourist under Milky Way at Big Bend

Despite how it's often depicted, is statistically the safest city in Texas and fun to explore the outdoors or indulge in cheap eats.

The ride through Texas is stunning. Make sure to have your camera ready through the vast Hill Country surrounding San Antonio and again in West Texas when approaching Big Bend National Park.

Welcome To The Desert, It's All Fun And Games

From El Paso, it's all desert from until you reach the Golden State.

The next worthy stop is Tucson, one of the Southwest's most underrated cities and a great gateway for exploring desert attractions like Saguaro National Park.

Pretty sky over Tucson skyline

Then, of course, is Phoenix, Arizona's trendiest city along with fun cities like Tempe and Scottsdale.

For a break, Scottsdale is definitely worthy a stop for a stay at a nice resort and shopping in Old Town.

Whether you de-board or not, you're in for a scenic ride through the red rock formations and jaw-dropping landscapes until crossing into California.

Last Stop: A California Icon

Once crossing Yuma, you're on your way to your final destinations.

The first stop in California is the fun city of Palm Springs with easy access to Joshua Tree National Park, and like Scottsdale, another desert gem perfect for nice hotels and shopping.

The Santa Monica pier

The final stop is the iconic city of Los Angeles, home to famous attractions, botched plastic surgeries, and iconic beaches like Malibu and Santa Monica.

With endless things to do, cultural neighborhoods to explore, and one of the most lively, scenic coastlines in the Golden State, Los Angeles is the perfect ending for one of Amtrak's most thrilling trips.

Amtrak Accommodations And More Stops

48 hours is a long time, so you'll want to make sure you secure comfortable accommodations.

If you're all-in for the full journey, Amtrak offers the following, in addition to standard two-level coach seats:

  • Superliner Roomette
  • Superliner Bedroom
  • Superliner Bedroom Suite
  • Superliner Family Bedroom
  • Superliner Accessible Bedroom
  • Trainside Checked Bicycle
Amtrak interior

Riding from New Orleans to major cities isn't a direct route; there are many small town stops along the 2,000 mile ride to either de-board or for others to join the journey.

Here is a full list of stops in order for the Sunset Limited route:

  • New Orleans, LA
  • Schriever, LA
  • New Iberia, LA
  • Lafayette, LA
  • Lake Charles, LA
  • Beaumont, TX
  • Houston, TX
  • San Antonio, TX
  • Del Rio, TX
  • Sanderson, TX
  • Alpine, TX
  • El Paso, TX
  • Deming, NM
  • Lordsburg, NM
  • Benson, AZ
  • Tucson, AZ
  • Maricopa, AZ
  • Yuma, AZ
  • Palm Springs, CA
  • Ontario, CA
  • Pomona, CA
  • Los Angeles, CA
Amtrak passing through Southern California

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Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, hotel, airline, or other entity. This content has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of the entities included within the post.