Written by Jennifer Bryant Altherr - October 2016
Yesterday four friends and I took the train to Chicago and back using Amtrak's walk on bike service. The recently renovated train station at Waterloo is comfortable with a lounge, TV and restrooms.
The Capital Limited train has a dedicated bike room with racks on the walls. When you buy your ticket you can opt to bring your bike for an additional $20 each way. You bring your own lock. There is a snack and dining car but I would recommend bringing your own food to avoid long waits. The train was quiet and clean with plenty of space to stretch out. We rented a locker for the day at Union Station for $18. It was large enough to hold several bags that we brought for changes of clothes.
We used this Chicago bike map which denotes varying bike routes such as barrier protected, buffer protected, bike lane, marked shared lanes, and off-street trails.
We also utilized a street view map to determine which roads/areas to travel (and which areas to avoid).
Along with some downtown exploring, we rode on Lake Front Trail, River Walk Trail and some smaller trails. We ate at Yolks, a breakfast spot close to Union Station that I highly recommend. We ate lunch at Margaritaville at Navy Pier because frozen drinks sounded just perfect at the time. Next time I'll scout a local spot.
Arrival times: I would recommend arriving 30 mins before departure for Waterloo, and 60-90 mins before departure for Chicago.
I would highly recommend trying Amtrak's walk on bike service. It removed the stress of driving/parking and made it an enjoyable experience.