GREAT AMERICAN VACATION
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Amtrak, the U.S. passenger rail system, has daily service to the Pacific Northwest from the Midwest and California. The Coast Starlight begins in Los Angeles; makes stops throughout California, western Oregon, and Washington; and terminates in Seattle. There are stops in both Portland and Eugene; the 2½-hour trip between Portland and Eugene costs $33.
Amtrak's Cascades begins in Vancouver, B.C.; makes stops in Seattle, Tacoma, Portland, and Salem; and terminates in Eugene. The Empire Builder begins in Chicago; makes stops in Milwaukee, WI; St. Paul, MN; Spokane, WA; and other cities before arriving in Portland. The journey from Spokane to Portland is 7½ hours ($105), with part of the route running through the Columbia River Gorge.
Book Amtrak tickets at least a few days in advance, especially if you're traveling between Seattle and Portland on the weekend.
Amtrak (800/872–7245. www.amtrak.com.)