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Posted at 3:15 PM ET, 08/16/2010

Top 10 Amtrak destinations from D.C.

By Dan Malouff

In case you missed it, Beyond D.C. ranked the top Amtrak destinations from D.C. earlier. Take a look at the list below and weigh in on whether you agree with the rankings.

For most Americans Amtrak is a curiosity, but for those of us along the east coast it is an actually useful mode of transportation. The three busiest Amtrak stations are New York, Washington, and Philadelphia, after all. So with that in mind, here is BeyondDC’s list of the top Amtrak destinations from DC.

The list is based on a subjective combination of ease of travel via Amtrak and, y’know, whether the destination is a place anybody would want to go.

Number 10: Boston -- Big city, plenty of frequent trains, Acela the whole way. Boston would be much higher on the list if it weren’t so far. At 450 miles it’s on the outer edge of a reasonable distance for travel by train.

Number 9: Coastal Connecticut -- From cosmopolitan New Haven to touristy Mystic Seaport, there are plenty of places to go, and it’s on the high-qualify Northeast Corridor.

Number 8: Charlottesville -- Virginia’s likable college town makes for a perfect day trip. Unfortunately there aren’t many trains, so scheduling can be tough.

Number 7: Williamsburg -- Ditto Charlottesville, but the train schedule is a little easier.

Number 6: Hudson Valley -- With light houses and fortresses perched atop rocky riverside embankments, the views are nothing short of stunning. As long as you’re staying south of Albany the trip is easy and relatively cheap. For extra savings, take Amtrak to New York and then use Metro North for the second leg.

Number 5: Atlantic City -- OK, you have to transfer to a New Jersey Transit train in Philly, but that ain’t no thang.

Number 4: Richmond -- At two-and-a-half hours it’s a comfortable ride, and even though it’s south of DC there are enough trains that scheduling is pretty easy. Use Main Street station rather than Staples Mill for a more urbanistically and architecturally interesting trip.

Number 3: Baltimore -- Everybody loves the Inner Harbor, right? The only problem with Amtrak to Baltimore is that it’s almost too close. On weekdays those $7 MARC tickets trump the faster but more expensive Amtrak trip.

Number 2: New York -- America’s unquestioned king of all things passenger rail would be number 1 if the bus from DC wasn’t such a competitive option. Still, there’s something magical about arriving in Penn Station via train (even if Penn Station is a hole).

Number 1: Philadelphia -- It’s a relaxing-length ride along the high-quality Northeast Corridor, and it’s to a fun city. Amtrak is always my mode of choice to the City of Brotherly Love.

Dan Malouff is an Arlington County transportation planner who blogs independently at The Local Blog Network is a group of bloggers from around the D.C. region who have agreed to make regular contributions to All Opinions Are Local.

By Dan Malouff  | August 16, 2010; 3:15 PM ET
Categories:  D.C., HotTopic, Local blog network, traffic, transportation  
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I live in Columbia, MD which puts me close to the BWI Amtrak station. Plan two weeks ahead and the round trip is $98 and under 3 hours each way. Sure, the Bolt bus is (gulp) $15 each way from Greenbelt, but there are only a few parking spaces and the trip takes 4+ each way. Bottom line, I can go back and forth on the economics/convenience etc. but being able to substitute money for time and convenience I'm having fun exploring the Big Apple via train. (I've been to many foreign capitals only just discovering NYC)

Now if a Bolt or Megabus were to leave from say, Columbia Mall... but again, do it right and the train is reasonable.

Posted by: jhtlag1 | August 17, 2010 5:18 PM | Report abuse

You say that 450 miles is on the outer edge of what's reasonable by train.
I disagree. It's not distance that matters, but time. 450 miles could take - ought to take - well under 3 hours: Boston-Washington actually takes over 6. That's the problem - time, not distance.
That said, I use Boston - Washington as a case study of air v rail. Sure, rail takes longer in total door-to-door time - but you can get a lot of useful work done on a train because once you're on it, you're just sitting there. By contrast, if you go by air, you are checking in, waiting at security, waiting at the gate, boarding, being disturbed by the announcements, landing, disembarking, getting out of the airport to where you are actually going. Your time is too broken to do anything useful.

Posted by: andrewsharp1 | August 19, 2010 8:25 AM | Report abuse

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