A Taste of European Travel in the US: Traveling with Amtrak Acela Express

*Disclaimer: This post is written in partnership with APCO Worldwide. My opinions, as always, remain my own.

The last few years for me have been jam-packed with long-term, mostly solo, international travels. While international travel is alluring and fun, it’s also exhausting. As such, I opted to stay in my home state of New York for the remainder of the year – but my wanderlust bug didn’t quite get the memo.

With the wanderlust bug itching, I decided to plan a few weekend getaways with family and friends. After a bit of research, I decided Philadelphia would make for a great weekend trip to take with my photography and history loving father.

Amtrak Acela Express

My dad, and his flip phone, snapping a pic of the submarine Becuna at the Philadelphia Seaport Museum.

Amtrak Acela Express

Fully enjoying the views and hues of Philadelphia’s beautiful residential streets!

We decided to put traffic, tolls, finding parking and all the headaches that come with traveling by car behind us and take the Amtrak Acela Express (an express train) from New York City’s Penn Station to Philadelphia’s 30th Street Station . Amtrak’s Acela services gave me European nostalgia – with heaps of benefits to travel with Amtrak over other options.

Awesome Customer Service

When traveling with Amtrak you come to expect great customer service. From William who printed our tickets to Becky who checked our bags at the 30th Street Station – we were greeted with smiling faces and generally happy employees, which added to a great trip!

The Speed

The Acela is known for its speed and arriving to Philadelphia from New York in less than an hour and a half was beyond impressive. I even learned that tons of people commute, daily, between Philadelphia and New York City which is now feasible via the Acela Express.

Amtrak Acela Express

The 30th Street Station is beautiful – and big! I felt (and appear) tiny in the station.

The Convenience

One of the best parts of traveling by Amtrak is how easy it is. Unlike the hassle with airports (security, arriving 1-3 hours prior to your departure, etc.) traveling with Amtrak is a breeze. Many Amtrak stations are located right in the heart of the city you’re traveling to/from which makes departure and arrival carefree.

Amtrak Acela Express

The vintage train time display at the 30th Street Station reminded me of the train displays in Europe!

Complimentary Wi-Fi

As someone who almost always has work to do, Wi-Fi is an amazing service to have while traveling. The fact that Amtrak-Connect provides the service on a complimentary basis is icing on top of a cake!

Comfortable (& Roomy!) Seats

Not only are the huge seats on the Acela Express extremely comfortable – they also offer much more space than one might expect. As an added bonus, there’s also power outlets available for each seat which makes charging your phone or computer effortless.

Snacks!

The Acela Express offers full meal service for first class passengers and for those traveling in coach class there’s a fun snack car where you can grab a beverage (a coffee from Dunkin Donuts, perhaps?) sandwich or snack. I was pleasantly surprised to find out there was also no minimum for a debit card purchase!

Amtrak Acela Express

The snack car with heaps of options for a quick bite.

Tons of Space for Baggage (+ Checked bag options if need be)

The allotted space for carry-on luggage on the Acela Express is massive! Each passenger is allotted two personal items (25 pounds and 14 x 11 x 7 inches each) AND 2 carry-on items (50 pounds and 28 x 22 x 14 inches each). If that’s not enough space, checked baggage options are also available.

Baggage Check

Similar to “left luggage” in Europe, some of the Amtrak stations offer a temporary baggage storage at the station. This was extremely convenient for us as we arrived in Philly just before noon and had 12:30pm tickets to a museum. We could have made our way to the hotel, checked in and left our bags there but that would’ve cut into our day by about an hour and we wanted to see as much of the city as possible. For $10 per bag we safely and securely left our bags at the station.

Taking in the Views

From the skyline of Philly to the fall foliage and the perfect sunset we caught from the end of the train – the views along the Amtrak routes are picture perfect. We loved being able to sit back, relax, and take in the views.

Amtrak Acela Express

The Philadelphia skyline after leaving the city on our way back to New York.

Amtrak Acela Express

The sunset views from the back of the train.

From the checked baggage options and the café car to the roomy seats and the views and hues along the way – Amtrak’s Acela Express is bringing European travel here to the states. Not only is traveling with Amtrak convenient and easy – it’s also fun!

Amtrak Acela Express

Amtrak Acela Express

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9 responses to “A Taste of European Travel in the US: Traveling with Amtrak Acela Express”

  1. Brooke says:

    I did the Amtrak Cascades and really enjoyed it! Rail travel is underrated – the calming pace, the scenery, the comfort that allows you to work, rest, etc. between adventures! Definitely doing Amtrak again when I visit the East Coast one day.

  2. Caroline says:

    I love train travel! I actually decided to take a train back from when I go home for thanksgiving (because flights were crazy expensive), and this makes me so excited! And I can’t get over how cute those houses on Philly are!

  3. Nicky says:

    Thank you so much for this article – I’m a European who doesn’t drive, and there’s so many places in the US that I’d like to visit on a tour, but I’m always worried about how to get from city to city. This is so useful; it’s really opened my eyes to the travel possibilities! Amtrak sounds like a brilliant option for me!

  4. Valerie says:

    I’ve taken that before when i landed at the Philly airport from Rome but had to get home to ny. It was really nice and its too bad we dont have more fast trains in the stayes

  5. Cherene Saradar says:

    I didn’t know we had this! I am a huge fan of train travel and wish we had more of this in the US! I am in DC area and will be looking to see what they offer from here. It’s about time we had a fast train in the US! And no minimum on debit card…wifi. Yes!!!!

  6. Kristin says:

    I hate that I didn’t take more train journeys when I lived in NYC (see: I was early 20s and broke) and instead mostly took the bus. I did take Amtrak to Boston and Rhode Island a couple times, and my husband and I did a similar trip this spring that made me long to be back in a city with Amtrak. We live in Nashville where there are no trains (or public transit period) to be found.

  7. Nina says:

    I want travelling by train to come back in style here in Canada! It’s so good to hear that Amtrak train stations are in city centres, just like Europe. (The train station where I live is… not central). You’re definitely right about it being a nice way to travel! I love the train when I do travel that way!

  8. Talia says:

    I had heard of the Acela Express for a while now when I lived in New York City and even used it a couple of times now.
    I do however, want to try Amtrak’s California Zephyr train that takes you from California via Chicago or New Orleans to the East Coast. Maybe an interesting idea for your travels as well?

  9. Rosalie says:

    That looks like such a good journey! I’ve been thinking about taking Amtrak lately on a weekend trip rather than hassle with driving and finding somewhere to park, and after reading your post I think I’ll have to go for it 🙂

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