Saturday, October 8, 2011

Amtrak | Little Rock to Chicago

What a week! My mom has been in Detroit visiting all week, and, sadly, she flies home to Arkansas tomorrow.

As most of you know who read my blog often, my parents came to visit for a week and Harbor William and I rode home to Arkansas with them for three weeks. My mom then rode the Amtrak train with us out of Little Rock to Chicago.

What an amazing experience! I felt like I was on an old John Wayne movie, taking the train cross country.
It was super comfortable, clean, friendly, and safe. Not to mention cheap. My ticket from Little Rock to Chicago was $88.00. That included three checked bags and a car seat at no additional charge.

We loaded in Little Rock at 11:39 p.m. It was dark and late and we were tired, but anxious about boarding and doing something new.

We reserved seats and waited to get our tickets.

I checked all but the stroller, Harbor's book bag, and my purse. I loved that checking baggage was free.

Mom and I opted for no makeup since we hoped to sleep a bit as it was dark and we had many hours until daylight.
{Aren't I a great sport for posting "no makeup" pictures for the world to see! Ha, ha!}

Our train was a double decker with lounge cars, sleeper cars, cafes, dining rooms, observation decks, and coach seats. It was like a cruise ship on tracks.

The conductors and staff were professional and made us feel very safe.

At this time, it was around midnight and the train was dark, but for lighting in the aisles.
We still posed for pictures.  : )

A midnight snack. Literally.

The Coach seats were really roomy with reclining chairs, foot rests, big windows with curtains, trays, overhead storage, and even plug-ins for laptops, cell phones, etc.

As the train left Little Rock, we all tried to wind down and relax.

Harbor slept all the way from Little Rock to St. Louis. He is a great kid. At St. Louis, we all woke up and took in the sights.

The tracks go into some beautiful lush countrysides, but also took us up close into some major downtowns.

After a visit to the downstairs dressing rooms for mascara and earrings, I felt a little "nicer" and looked forward to exploring the cars and finding some breakfast.

Our first stop was the observation car, which conveniently was only one car up from our seats. With floor to ceiling windows, swivel recliners, and booths, it was a gathering place for card games, book reading, and sight-seeing.

Though the dining room was open, we opted to go downstairs and try a cafe.

They had a sweet attendant there who helped you place orders and warmed all your food. It was very clean and so cute. I even told her so and she beamed from Amtrak hat to shiny shoes.  : )

We ate back upstairs in the observation deck. Harbor loved going up and down the stairs.

We met a nice family with two children who had taken the train to Texas all the way from Chicago and were heading back north. They took this picture and I love that they captured the conductor coming past our booth.

Harbor read books and colored with crayons

and we even played beauty shop {ouch!}

There was plenty of storage overhead. We also noted that above all the seats were coded tags that told the final destinations of each passenger.

Our was for Chicago. The staff were good to check the tags at every stop and make sure everyone got on or stayed off. They even woke sleeping passengers who had napped who might miss their stop. It made me feel very safe to know they were watching out for all of us.

At 2:00 p.m. that afternoon, we spied the Sears Tower looming above the skyline and knew we were in Chicago. The conductor came over the loud speaker, thanked us for a good trip, and gave unloading instructions.

The Union Station in Chicago is only one block from the Sears Tower and in the heart of Chicago's downtown.

It was a beautiful station that made me feel very much like Harry Potter.  : )

We literally ran to see Daddy and after three weeks, it felt good to be together again.

Just like an airport, we picked up our baggage in the claims area and checked out with an attendant.
No fuss. No lines. Very easy. Did I mention $132 for the entire trip for both Harbor's and my ticket? : )

David was parked under the Sears Tower and minutes from the "Magnificent Mile," so we took the rest of the day to sight-see. It was windy in Chicago {duh, Jessica!} and cold, but we felt very adventurous and romantic after such a fun train ride.

David took us to the stretch of Lake Michigan, just past Soldier Field.

We walked the board walk and spied sail boats a plenty.

We decided on a beach, and despite being cold, weren't opposed to a little toe dipping.

This grass-fed Arkansas baby of mine is turning into a beach bum.  : )

The skyline was so pretty. Chicago is a crazy cool place. I think we will go back soon. : )

After an afternoon spent frolicking on the shore, we packed up and headed out of Chicago back to Detroit.

Detroit is only four hours from Chicago. I'm looking forward to visiting again. Does Chicago have a Thanksgiving Day Parade? You know.. we will be alone in Detroit over Thanksgiving. Hmmm....   : )


  1. Now I want to ride the Amtrak! That looks so cool. Glad you had a good trip and are back home safely.

  2. That looks like so much fun! I want to ride a train somewhere! Glad you are home safe and sound.

  3. Looks like a great trip! The train we take from where we live to Chicago isn't nearly that nice on Amtrak. I wish it was because I might use it more because the cost is affordable!

  4. Looks like fun! I've always wanted to take a train trip! Love Chi town too! My hubby doesn't like it, so we never go but I think it's such a neat city!!

  5. Oh my goodness -- how fun!! I'm so glad you posted this -- And I'm glad to know you felt safe...that would be my biggest worry!! May have to try to convince my husband to do this next summer!!!

  6. You have been extra busy!! Loved this post! Harbor sure is growing up!

  7. HOW FUN! I almost want to pack up the suitcases and the kids and take the train to Chicago...TOMORROW! When I was in college I took the trains through Europe, and it was such a wonderful experience. I just told Rhett the other day that I wish we could ride trains through the USA--I guess we can, and I just didn't realize it! Thanks for sharing. My Mom, Sister and I have been wanting to take a trip to Chicago to visit a Great Aunt, and this post just gives me an idea of a way we might travel!?! Glad you're home safe-n-sound! Have a great week.

  8. Amtrak looks cool! I wish there was a direct route from central Florida to NWA! I guess we'll just stick to driving. ;] The road trip's are always fun!

  9. Yep! Definitely going to have to look up Amtrak and see where it can take us.

  10. WOW! I didn't realize how nice those trains are! We really need to do that ASAP!

    And by the way...y'all look great with no make-up!

  11. My husband took Amtrak from Chicago to New Orleans, 19 hr trip, but he loved it! I thought the outlet at the seats was awesome, because I was worried his phone would die!
    Love your Chicago pics - I am less than an hour away. You took Skyway out into Indiana and probably went past where I work in Merrillville! How neat!