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Sorry for the delay! I was asleep. 🙂
Honestly, I thought they were all beautiful. My favorite was probably the Empire Builder from Portland to Chicago, but I have a thing for both mountains and wide-open prairie. But if you want more “classic” beauty, I’d 100% recommend the Pacific Surfliner or Coast Starlight. The tracks run literally right next to the beach, so you have gorgeous ocean on one side, beautiful California foothills on the other, and some sweet towns along the way (Santa Barbara, etc).
If you’re tall, the mini-sleeper is definitely not for you unless you don’t mind curling up a bit. I’m 5’10” and was very comfortable in my car, and slept reeeaaallly well; the trains provide both nice ambient white noise and a pleasant rocking. I dunno, other people might not sleep so well. I’m pretty low-maintenance and staying in a Hotel 6 is a pretty big deal for me.
I poked around a bit in the other cars. The non-mini sleeper rooms are pretty legit. There’s definitely room to move around and stretch out in them.
Yeah, I’ve heard the same about trans-Canadian. That would be awesome. But honestly, I’m not too picky about the routes, it’s just the experience of being on a train that I enjoy. If you’re trying to get somewhere in a hurry and on-time then taking Amtrak is definitely *not* the way to go (no fault of their own; they’re kind of the bitch of the US rail network and get shunted to side tracks whenever there’s a freight train coming through). But I’m a freelance web developer and am always looking for places to work that offer isolation without being dark windowless rooms. It’s also really nice if they *don’t* have Wifi because it’s so easy to get sucked up into Reddit (go figure). Amtrak was perfect for banging out lines of code. I’d just hunker down in the Observation Car with some snacks, a few energy drinks, and my headphones, and get lots of work done while enjoying having people around and watching beautiful scenery go by. We were usually in cell phone range if there was anything I really needed to look up online.