A blogger took Amtrak across the country from San Francisco to New York and recorded the whole trip on TikTok


Kelsey Silver cross country train

  • Kelsey Silver and her cousin dreamed of crossing the US by train.
  • Starting in California, they took two Amtrak trains — the California Zephyr and the Lakeshore Limited  — to make their dream a reality.
  • Along the way, Silver documented the trip with photos and TikTok videos.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Kelsey Silver and her cousin dreamed of a train trip across the US ever since they saw a blog post that described how to do the trip for only about $200.

Four years later, they finally decided to take the trip in December 2019, although they opted to spend more for a more comfortable journey.

The two flew into San Francisco to catch the California Zephyr and start a three day trip to Chicago, where they spent the night before taking the Lakeshore Limited train the rest of the way to New York City. With private rooms on both trains, Silver told Business Insider that travel costs were about $2,000 total for her and her cousin.

“If you really want to see America, this is the way to do it,” Silver said.

Amtrak offers a few routes for train enthusiasts looking for a trip across the country. In November, Business Insider transportation reporter Graham Rapier spent 96 hours traveling from New York to Seattle. He said he’d “do it again in a heartbeat.”

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Silver and her cousin started their trip in San Francisco.

They boarded the California Zephyr, a 51-hour Amtrak trip from San Francisco to Chicago. She showed off her tickets, and explained that the entire trip to NY would take 4 days.



The two bought the largest room available, the Superliner bedroom, which comes with two beds and a private bathroom.

She gave TikTok followers a tour of her room here.



The three-day trip takes passengers through some of the most famous areas of the west, including the Rocky Mountains, Sierra Nevadas, Moffat Tunnel, Colorado’s Gore, Truckee River, Donner Lake, and the Carquinez Strait.

It makes mostly short, five-minute stops, with slightly longer stops in Denver and Salt Lake City.

It’s often referred to as the most scenic train ride in North America.

Silver summed up her first day on the rails in this TikTok, from breakfast in San Francisco to lunch in Nevada, with dinner in Utah, and falling asleep in Colorado.



Every night, a car attendant came to the room to turn down the room, and in the morning to make it up.

There’s also juice, coffee, and tea in each car.

Silver made a TikTok showing her morning routine on the train, where she and her cousin woke up and tried to guess where they were before pressing the button for turndown service, getting coffee, and sitting in the observation car.



Silver said the observation car was one of her favorite parts of the trip.

“If you want to see some of the best views in America while sipping on some pinot grigio, this is the way to do it,” she told Business Insider.

The observation car has extra windows, so you can really take in the views.

Silver recapped her second day here, starting in Colorado, traveling through Aspen and the Rocky Mountains, and heading through Nebraska.



Silver said that if she wasn’t in the observation car, she could usually be found in the dining car.

Passengers make a reservation, and groups of two often get seated with another couple. Silver said that the food and dining experienced exceeded her expectations for an Amtrak train.

On day three, Silver woke up in Iowa, crossed the border into Illinois, and finally made it Chicago.



After 51 hours in transit, Silver and her cousin spent a night in Chicago before boarding their next train.

Lake Shore Limited, which goes from Chicago to New York City, was “way less exciting than the first train,” according to Silver. The trip was also much shorter; they boarded the train at 8 pm and arrived in New York the next evening.

This leg of the trip was more sparse. There was no observation car, and the snack car had a limited menu. Silver gave a tour of their tiny roomette.



After ending their trip in New York, Silver told Business Insider that “the trip was a once in a lifetime experience that I would recommend to anyone and everyone.”