The stress of fielding directions while driving, frequent potty breaks and nasty traffic jams can suck the joy out of a weekend family trip.
Amtrak’s routes from the metro Detroit area reach cities across the country. Some of the best spots to visit, however, are actually just a few hours away by train. Traveling by train lets the whole family hang out, reduces environmental impact and is more cost effective, too — especially since Amtrak offers half off fares for children ages 2-12 and a free ride to infants under 2.
Families headed to major cities like Chicago should especially consider the train: ditching the car and using public transportation to get around saves a huge amount in parking fees and (as anyone who has driven in downtown city traffic during rush hour knows) can reduce stress.
Check out our top picks for family-friendly Amtrak trips to take from Detroit. Note: ticket prices are for one way travel.
Major cities with big traffic jams and parking garages that charge more than the cost of a night out make leaving the car behind an attractive option. Chicago has tons for families to do: visit the ever popular Shedd Aquarium, Navy Pier, The Field Museum and more. Whatever special interest your little one has, the “Windy City” is sure to offer something. A five-hour ride from the Detroit station will take the family to Chicago and prices are around $40.
While sometimes overlooked as a family travel destination, Cleveland has it all. The Children’s Museum of Cleveland is an incredible spot for kids to play and learn, while the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame is a huge draw for teens. Food and entertainment options are top notch in this city that’s more populated than both Portland and Las Vegas. Taking an Amtrak bus for part of the trip cuts both the ticket price and time in half, otherwise expect to pay about $100 for a 16 hour trip.
At just around $30 for a ticket and under 3 hours on the train, Kalamazoo is a good option for shorter trips. The Air Zoo Aerospace and Science Museum, Dinosaur Park and the Kalamazoo Nature Center are all unique and fun spots to visit.
This picturesque town is the “Gateway to Michigan.” Located on the long, sandy shores of Lake Michigan, New Buffalo links multiple beach towns. For families looking to soak up some sun, the roughly $40 ticket and 4 hours are definitely worth it. Rent a kayak and explore the Galien River Marsh Trail, but be sure to grab some Swedish goodies before you hit the water.
A mix of Amtrak trains and buses can take the family to Sandusky in about 3 hours for roughly $40 per ticket. While Cedar Point is the obvious standout from the city, the shores along the Sandusky Bay are worth a visit. Kalahari, a giant themed waterpark, is a hit among kids and teens, too.
Families with kids old enough for a longer train ride can make it to Wisconsin Dells for around $80 per ticket. A 13-hour trip will land the family in an area known as the “waterpark capital of the world.” If visiting in the warmer months, take a boat tour along the Wisconsin River to see some of the craggy bends and forests that are home to the small, secluded valleys known as “dells.”
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