Sunset Limited Route Overview
The Amtrak Sunset Limited is a transcontinental route from New Orleans to Los Angeles. This route used to begin in Orlando but was altered in 2005 after Hurricane Katrina. It is the oldest named train in the US. It was introduced in 1894 by the Southern Pacific Railroad and was acquired by Amtrak in 1971.
The Sunset Limited will take you from New Orleans to Los Angeles via Houston, San Antonio, El Paso, Tuscon and Maricopa (Phonenix) before arriving in Los Angeles.
On the Sunset Limited you can purchase tickets in these categories (sample summer fares for 2 people shown):
- Coach ($300)
- Superliner Roomette ($1,073)
- Superliner Bedroom ($1,662)
- Superliner Family Bedroom ($1,418)
Amtrak often runs 2 for 1 sales on coach tickets as well as roomettes. If you are planning well in advance, check out our guide to getting 2 for 1 tickets during the BOGO sale.
Meals and Metropolitan Lounge access are included for all sleeper car passengers.
The Sunset Limited will take you from New Orleans to Los Angeles along the southernmost route on Amtrak. You will be treated to gorgeous of Bayou Country, Mississippi River, travel along the Mexican Border and the southwestern desert before traveling over the California mountains.
Most people vacationing on the Sunset Limited will get to see the city of New Orleans up close and personal before traversing the Mississippi River. You’ll get a great look at downtown Houston before heading to the heart of San Antonio. You will dip into some of the most diverse and remote parts of the southern US. You will skirt along national parks as well as the US/Mexico Border.
The major and notable stations on the Amtrak Sunset Limited are New Orleans, Houston, San Antonio, El Paso, Tucson, Maricopa (Phoenix) and Los Angeles.
The Amtrak Sunset Limited starts in Louisiana and travels to Texas, New Mexico and Arizona before arriving in California. There are many notable stops along this route.
The Sunset Limited has terminus stations of New Orleans on one end and Los Angeles on the other. Both stations have Metropolitan Lounges but the lounge in New Orleans is just an unstaffed room off the main waiting area. The Metropolitan Lounge in Los Angeles is more luxurious. You will find restaurants at both stations as well as convenience stores.
Both stations also offer free checked baggage, up to 2 bags per person of 50lbs.
New Orleans Union Passenger Terminal
New Orleans Union Passenger Terminal is an intermodal facility. The station services Amtrak, Greyhound Lines, MegaBus and NORTA. It is the terminus for City of New Orleans and the Crescent as well as the Sunset Limited. This station offers a small Metropolitan Lounge. You will also find a couple restaurants to purchase food as well as a convenience store for drinks and snacks. There is a Subway restaurant in the waiting area, which is what we bought and brought aboard for our ride in coach.
There are lots of options of places to stay near the New Orleans Union Passenger Terminal.
We stayed at the The Troubadour, and really enjoyed it. While it is not close enough to walk to the station, we ended up walking to the station with our luggage from there anyway, due to a lack of available cabs. Plan to book your ride to the station the night before with a reputable car service that your hotel can provide.
Union Station – Los Angeles
Union Station in Los Angeles is the largest railroad passenger terminal in the western US. It opened in 1939 replacing the LA Grande Station and Central Station. The station has been used in many popular films, including Blade Runner, Pearl Harbor, The Dark Knight Rises and Bugsy, to name a few. There are several restaurants where you can purchase food and bring back to enjoy in the Metropolitan Lounge. The lounge at this station is located on the second level just past ticketing and the check in counters. Arrive early to take the time to walk around the station and enjoy some of the history.
If you need to stay near the station, the closest hotel is the Metro Plaza Hotel, which is acceptable. For a little better place to stay you could choose the Millennium Biltmore. We stayed there on our last Amtrak trip and recommend it, but this would require a short taxi or Uber to the station.
There is a car rental location on site at the station.
The Sunset Limited can be paired with several other trains for a longer vacation. You can take the Sunset Limited to Los Angeles and hop on the Coast Starlight up to Seattle. After a few days there then hop on the Empire Builder to Chicago and take the City of New Orleans train back to New Orleans to create a longer vacation similar to our 14 day trip around the US.
You can also link the Sunset Limited to could also link to the Southwest Chief in Los Angeles and ride to Chicago or stop anywhere along this route. Follow that up with a trip back to New Orleans on the City of New Orleans to complete your loop. Note that the Amtrak stations in New Orleans and Los Angeles are not near the airports, so if you are flying into those cities to start this route you’ll need to get a cab or Uber to the Amtrak station.
Tickets for Amtrak can be booked at Amtrak.com or using their app on your phone. Reservations can also be made by calling 1-800-USA-RAIL.