12 Most Beautiful Train Stations in the U.S.

By Meredith Carey Condé Nast Traveler

Grand Central Terminal, New York, New York

At over a century old, the grande dame of train stations sees 267,000 people crisscross through its main concourse—passing the iconic information booth and four-faced clock—each day. The most striking feature of the Beaux-Arts station, though, is the constellation mural painted across its green arched ceiling. Astrologists beware, not all of the stars are in their rightful place.

Union Station, Kansas City, Missouri

While trains to Chicago, L.A, and St. Louis still run through the working station—built in 1914 and restored to it's Beaux-Arts glory after a prolonged closure in 1999—the real draws here are the more recent additions: a permanent rail history exhibit, a planetarium, science center for kids, and movie theater. Be sure to look up in the main hall to catch a glimpse of the three 3,500-pound chandeliers hanging overhead.

Union Station, Washington, D.C.

The stunning arched main hall of D.C.'s Union Station is the centerpiece, featuring 22-karat gold leaf decorating the ceiling and 46 statues of Roman soldiers (pictured) that appeared in the original 1908 station, according to Curbed. Besides being a working Amtrak station, the hub attracts visitors to its underground shopping concourse—a whopping 37 million travelers, shoppers, and D.C. natives in all.

Union Terminal, Cincinnati, Ohio

Everything about the central Cincinnati station screams Art Deco, thanks to two massive relief figures carved in stone on the buildings exterior. While the station still welcomes Amtrak passengers, it's been mostly transformed into the Cincinnati Museum Center—home to the city's history museum, children's museum, and the Museum of Natural History & Science. Visitors also head there for a look at Winold Reiss's restored ultra-colorful, enormous rotunda murals, which illustrate the history of the United States, and Cincinnati itself.

30th Street Station, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

You'll want to spend most of your time in the third busiest station in the country looking up: five-story-tall windows and glamorous Art Deco chandeliers illuminate the interiors. Be sure to schedule time before your train to sit and people watch in the waiting room, which according to Curbed is two football fields long.

Union Station, Denver, Colorado

Oh look, another Union Station! This one, originally built in 1914, was renovated and restored in 2014 to include a hotel, three bars, a Snooze an AM Eatery all-day brunch spot, and Ultreia, one of our favorite restaurants in Denver. The decor of the interior is relatively basic compared to other train stations on this list but the grand exterior of this Beaux-Arts style station makes our jaws drop every time. (Note, the hotel offers daily tours of the station for $20, if you're interested.)

King Street Station, Seattle, Washington

Bless the historians and preservationists who had the main hall of this station returned to its original form in 2010, after previous attempts to "modernize" the building by covering up its beautiful ceiling with run-of-the-mill acoustic tiles. Look down when you enter the building to check out the intricate mosaic floor tiles; it's clear why this entry is called "The Compass Room." You won't be able to see inside the building's clocktower for yourself—it once made the train station the tallest building in Seattle

Union Station, Los Angeles, California

If this train station looks way different from the rest, that's because it pioneered it's own architectural style, called Mission Moderne. Influenced by a mix of California classics like Spanish Colonial and Mission Revival—and a dash of Art Deco—the building has spectacular wood-inlayed ceilings, 1930s-style chandeliers, and sweeping 110-foot-long ticket counter. Even if you've never been to the station, odds are you've seen it on screen: it's appeared in movies like Blade Runner, Catch Me If You Can, and Hail, Caesar! If you want to see the place for yourself, head to the station on a second Sunday of the month, when you can catch a free art and architecture tour of the space

Santa Fe Depot, San Diego, California

Opened in 1915, the Santa Fe Depot is defined by its Spanish revival style-building reminiscent of 17th-century missions, and the rows of palm trees that line its track. The starting point for Amtrak's coastal Pacific Surfliner ride—ending in San Luis Obispo—the station has an impressive arched ceiling in its cavernous waiting room.

Union Station, Worcester, Massachusetts

Less than 40 years ago, Worcester's Union Station in central Massachusetts was in complete disrepair, and Amtrak was actually using a separate station to service the area. But after a restoration in the late '90s, the station is as good as new, with its 175-foot-tall towers rebuilt and stained glass ceiling and marble floor returned to their former glory.

Main Street Station, Richmond, Virginia

Travelers driving through Richmond will recognize the station's brick six-story clocktower that abuts Interstate 95. Inside, the fully-restored station mimics the design of the original Victorian-era building—with a peach, green and white paint scheme.

Union Station, Portland, Oregon

It takes a lot to look this good at 123 years old. There have been numerous renovations, starting in 1927, when Italian marble was added to the walls and floors, and later in 1987, with the restoration of the waiting room's detailed floral patterned-ceiling. As for the clock on the station's tower? It still has to be wound every seven days, according to Portland Monthly.

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Travel Magazine: 12 Most Beautiful Train Stations in the U.S.
12 Most Beautiful Train Stations in the U.S.
Spoiler: They’re pretty much all called Union Station.
Travel Magazine
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