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Chicago to San Francisco train

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Chicago - San Francisco Train Schedule

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Trip Summary

There are usually 4 daily train trips available from Chicago to San Francisco. Traveling by train from Chicago to San Francisco usually takes 61 hours and 50 minutes, but the fastest Amtrak train can make the trip in 53 hours and 45 minutes.

Distance1855 mi (2985 km)
Fastest train53h 45m
Lowest price$165.00
Most frequent serviceAmtrak
Train lines1

What is the price of a train ticket from Chicago to San Francisco?

In the last month, the average price of a train ticket from Chicago to San Francisco was $313.87. Considering the distance between Chicago and San Francisco, tickets on this route are relatively expensive. Good news! You can find the cheapest tickets if you book your trip at least 29 days prior to the travel date. You’ll likely pay around $142.99 more if you wait to book until the last minute.

Average prices by travel date

$405$270$135JulJul

Over the next 30 days, a one-way train trip from Chicago to San Francisco will cost between $280 and $395. Book in advance to secure the best price in the next few weeks.

Monthly average prices

$300$240$180$120$60ASONDJFMAMJJ
Ticket prices for the train from Chicago to San Francisco often fluctuate based on the time of year. For the best prices on this route, book in October when the average ticket price is only $203. If you're thinking of traveling from Chicago to San Francisco during June, keep in mind that train ticket prices may be higher than usual, with an average price of $297 during this time of year. The best way to score a cheap deal, even in June, is to book your trip well in advance.

Prices as travel date approaches

$375$300$225$150$753020100

By booking your train trip from Chicago to San Francisco on Wanderu at least 29 days ahead of time, you can save about $142.99 on your ticket. Waiting until the last minute means missing out on these savings!

Which train should you take from Chicago to San Francisco?

Amtrak is the one and only train line which connects Chicago to San Francisco. However, there are 4 trains per day to choose from.

TrainDaily TripsAvg. TimeAvg. Price
Amtrak42d 13h 50m$345.38
  • Amtrak is the largest passenger railroad service in America, offering daily intercity trains to hundreds of destinations across the contiguous United States, as well as several cities in Canada. Every Amtrak train comes equipped with comfortable seats with extra legroom, as well as several four-seat areas with tables in the middle. In addition, each car has a freshly cleaned restroom, free WiFi and power outlets at every seat. There are also snack bars where you can purchase drinks or food during your journey. On average, there are 4 Amtrak trains from Chicago to San Francisco every day, as well as 4 trips on the weekends, with prices starting from $165.

Frequently Asked Questions

Amtrak’s California Zephyr train from Chicago to San Francisco officially takes 51 hours and 20 minutes — over two days! As one of the most scenic train trips in North America, though, some riders extend the trip by buying tickets in segments and visiting beautiful locations and exciting cities along the way.
The most scenic stretches of the California Zephyr include a span over the Rocky Mountains in Colorado, as well as a trek through California’s Sierra Nevadas.
The distance from Chicago to San Francisco covers 1,859 miles (2,991.8 kilometers). The driving distance is upwards of 2,120 miles (3,411.8 kilometers).
While the train is the main method of transportation from Chicago to San Francisco, it will only take you part of the way there. Please note that part of your trip will be on a different vehicle, most commonly a bus or express shuttle.

The distance between Chicago and San Francisco is approximately 1855 miles, or 2985 kilometers. The average train journey between these two cities takes 61 hours and 50 minutes, although the absolute fastest you could get there is 53 hours and 45 minutes.

Looking for ways to pass the time? Most trains are equipped with Wi-Fi, which means you can stream music, browse social media or get some work done during your ride. That said, in case your train has a spotty signal, or is among the few without Wi-Fi, we also recommend downloading TV shows and movies to your mobile device in advance of your trip. That way the ride will fly by whatever the Wi-Fi situation.

Trains from Chicago to San Francisco are the most crowded on Saturday. Tickets also tend to be more expensive then. If you are looking for a great deal on your train tickets or just want extra room to stretch out, consider traveling on Tuesday instead, as it tends to be the least crowded day of the week.

The earliest train departs Chicago at 1:00pm while the last train of the day leaves at 3:00pm. To see all scheduled departure times, use the search function on this page to get the full schedule for your specific travel dates.

There are 4 scheduled trains on most days. Unfortunately, none of them are direct connections, so you will need to disembark from your original train and board a connecting train during your journey. Don't forget to bring your carry-on luggage when you switch trains. In some instances, you may also be responsible for transferring your own checked baggage.

You can also take a train for your return trip from San Francisco to Chicago.

City Information

Chicago

Known for its innovative architecture, cultural contributions to jazz and house music, and of course that irresistible deep-dish pizza, the many sights and experiences in Chicago make it one of the best urban vacation destinations for millennials and a top destination in Illinois.

You can't beat the views of the city and Lake Michigan from the SkyDeck in the Willis Tower; at over 1,300 feet, this is the highest observation deck in the U.S. Snap that classic selfie with the Bean in Millennium Park, then wander the many museums in nearby Grant Park. Navy Pier is a popular tourist hotspot for its parks, restaurants, and attractions right on Lake Michigan, and baseball fans will find paradise in Wrigleyville, home to the Chicago Cubs' Wrigley Field and sports bars galore.

Chicago's enormous parks offer plentiful opportunities for outdoor activities in gorgeous urban settings. Many companies offer kayak rentals or boat tours on the Chicago River, with special tours running on Saint Patrick's Day, when the entire river is dyed green. When you’re ready to buy some souvenirs from your epic trip, hit the big brand stores on the Magnificent Mile, or shop local in neighborhoods like Andersonville and Wicker Park. And don't miss the chance to laugh until you cry at The Second City comedy theater, famous for launching the careers of comedians like Tina Fey and Stephen Colbert.

Chicago is one of the biggest transportation hubs in the Midwest, and provides easy access to nearby destinations ideal for day trips, as well as international travel from two airports. Thanks to plenty of bus and train stations throughout the city, getting to the Windy City is a breeze.

San Francisco

San Francisco, CA - SFO-0

Image credit: Unsplash

San Francisco, CA - SFO-1

Image credit: Unsplash

San Francisco, CA - SFO-2

Image credit: Unsplash

Located in the heart of Northern California's Bay Area, San Francisco is a geographically small but culturally huge city known for its historic cable cars, active waterfront, and the eclectic mix of hippies and techies who call it home. While it might be one of the most expensive U.S. cities to live in, San Fran can actually be very cheap to visit, and there is no shortage of unique sights to see.

If the city's omnipresent fog (nicknamed "Karl the Fog" by locals) takes a break, the best views and Instagram photo ops of the world-famous Golden Gate Bridge are found in Golden Gate Park. Stroll through the oldest Chinatown in North America to find the perfect dim sum, or if you and your boo prefer a little Full House moment, try a romantic picnic at Alamo Square Park in front of the Victorian "Painted Ladies." After all, San Francisco is one of the best vacation destinations for couples.

Since the city is condensed onto a small peninsula, exploring by bike is an efficient and scenic way to get around. When you’re ready to travel beyond city limits, San Francisco is a convenient hub for trips throughout Northern California. It's actually the first stop on Wanderu's West Coast Wine Tour, with the next stop, obviously, in Napa Valley. Whether traveling by bus, train, or through either of the two nearby airports, San Francisco is a can't-miss destination.

Station Information

Where is the train station in Chicago?

Chicago, IL - Union Station - CHIUST-0

Image credit: Jeramey Jannene

Link to image attribution

Main departure station: Chicago (Union Station), Illinois

The historic Chicago Union Station is the United States' third busiest train station and a hub for 15 Amtrak train lines with destinations throughout the country. The station also serves bus carriers like Greyhound, Indian Trails and Jefferson Lines, and offers connections to Metra commuter lines. Union Station is also just a quick walk to the nearest Chicago L lines. The current station was built in 1925, to replace the original one dating back to 1881, and today wows visitors with its impressive facade, massive columns, and opulent Great Hall. Located right in downtown and adjacent to the Chicago Loop, Union Station is equipped with many services and amenities, including phone charging stations, shops, and various food and drink options.

All train stations in Chicago:

  • Chicago (Union Station), Illinois

Where is the train station in San Francisco?

Salesforce Plaza - SFOBLT-0

Image credit: 146109843@N05

Link to image attribution

Main arrival station: San Francisco, California

Behind a modern curved façade lies San Francisco’s commuter hub, the Salesforce Transit Center. This gateway to downtown San Francisco and the entire Bay Area welcomes tens of thousands of passengers every day. Finding your way around is easy thanks to more than 270 digital displays with transit information. The Salesforce Transit Center serves as a bus station for Greyhound and Amtrak Thruway buses, as well as several public transit options for convenient connections. A standout feature of the Salesforce Transit Center is a public five-acre rooftop park which gives travelers an open space to relax. Rotating food trucks, cafés, carts, and pop-up retail make this a dynamic and vibrant destination in itself.

All train stations in San Francisco:

  • San Francisco, California

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