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The Amtrak Cincinnati train station is one that is familiar to most residents of Cincinnati as it shares historic Union Terminal with the Cincinnati Museum Center.

Cincinnati Museum Center at Union Terminal with a clock on the front

(AKA the Hall of Justice from Superfriends)

The big problem with Amtrak Cincinnati is that there is only one train per day in each direction, and it is scheduled at about 1:30 a.m. towards Chicago and about 3 a.m. towards Washington DC.  So in 2015, when we took our train trip to Denver, we decided to drive up to Toledo the night before and take the train to Chicago from Toledo’s Union Station, where the train leaves at a still early but more manageable 5:22 a.m.

(SEE ALSO: 4 reasons my Amtrak trip was a blast…)

(SEE ALSO: … but I’ll probably never take another Amtrak trip)

Amtrak Cincinnati parking and boarding – how it works

Because the Amtrak Cincinnati arrives and departs in the middle of the night, there is nobody manning the parking gates like there is if you come during the day (to the museums).  If you are being dropped off, there is short-term Amtrak Cincinnati parking along the main driveway around the fountain and near the front doors.

If you plan on leaving your car there while you travel from Amtrak Cincinnati Union Terminal, enter either of the parking lots on the sides and park towards the front (nearer the Union Terminal building).  Once you enter Cincinnati Union Terminal, the security office is to the left of the building.  There is a form that you will fill out with your name, vehicle and contact information


Fill out the form with your make, model and license plate, and you will be charged $6 per day to park.

Cincinnati Amtrak parking if you have a museum pass

If you are members of the Cincinnati Museum center and have free parking with your museum membership, park in the same places, but then when you go into the Union Terminal building and fill out the form, just show the guard your museum pass and enter your member # on the form above, and you will not be charged for parking.

Boarding the Amtrak train at Cincinnati Union Terminal

The Amtrak waiting station is towards the back of the museum off to the right once you go through the rotunda.  There are plenty of signs throughout the museum directing you where you need to go


Once you enter the waiting room, even if you already have your tickets and aren’t checking bags, you will need to check in with the agent at the gate.


In our case, we arrived at the Amtrak Cincinnati Union Terminal about 20-30 minutes before our (already delayed) train.  But it was a fairly short wait, and then we were called for our Cincinnati Amtrak boarding.  They called people in business class or sleeper cars first, and a minute or two later called the rest of the passengers.  In our case. half of us were in Roomettes and half of us were in the cheap seats, so we split up there, though you all end up at the same place down waiting for the train (it’s just a matter of which part of the train that you’re getting on).

We had 2 of our kids by themselves in a roomette, and I was worried that there would be some sort of problem with them being considered unaccompanied minors (not to be confused with “unaccompanied monsters“) and we .  In our case, nobody checked any IDs for adults or children, either at the check in gate or at the train.  The conductor did scan our tickets when we were on the Amtrak Cincinnati train, but there was no problem with having 2 underage kids in a roomette by themselves.  I’m guessing that even if we weren’t there, there wouldn’t have been a problem as long as the kids could pass for older.

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