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Amtrak Train from San Francisco to Los Angeles

by rmdw Online Now Feb 19, 2011 at 5:16 PM

Has anyone taken the trip from SF to LA before? If so, what did you like about it and what did you not like about it?

Is the scenery spectacular?

Robert

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11 Answers
  • yvr's Profile Photo

    Re: Amtrak Train from San Francisco to Los Angeles

    by yvr Online Now Feb 19, 2011 at 5:32 PM

    The scenery is great just North of Santa Barbara going Southbound to Los Angeles or Northbound from Los Angeles. Train goes inland from/to Oakland to Santa Barbara. Between Paso Robles and Santa Barbara the trains does cross the coast range which has some nice scenery also. Between Oakland to/from Paso Robles there is not much to see, except for the fields and some hills, you will travel through the Salinas Valley. I do recommend this trip, it is really nice.

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  • wise23girl's Profile Photo

    Re: Amtrak Train from San Francisco to Los Angeles

    by wise23girl Online Now Feb 19, 2011 at 6:04 PM

    We travelled Amtrak a few years ago on the Westand the one thing is the overnight cabins were so small. Two of us in bunks...I forget what the class was called but there was very little room between the top bunk and the ceiling...I could hardly breath and managed to wriggle out "just" about midnight.

    The locals told me they went for the next level of cabin.

    Maybe things have improved but do check it out.

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  • yvr's Profile Photo

    Re: Amtrak Train from San Francisco to Los Angeles

    by yvr Online Now Feb 19, 2011 at 7:32 PM

    If you are going between San Francisco and Los Angeles you will not need sleeping accommodations. You will be riding on the Superliner it is all high level seating. If you were to need sleeping accommodations there are two types on the Coast Starlight, that's the name of the train. A roomette which will sleep two, toilet and wash basin are at the end of each car and a bedroom with private facilities, the sleeping accomodations do offer meals included, but you won't need that. To check prices go two www.amtrak.com/coaststarlight. You can opt to take commuter rail from San Franicsco to San Jose and pick up the train there, but I would suggest to take the Amtrak thruway bus which has many stops in San Francisco across the bay to Emeryville and pick up the train there.

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  • GyuriFT's Profile Photo

    Re: Amtrak Train from San Francisco to Los Angeles

    by GyuriFT Online Now Feb 19, 2011 at 9:49 PM

    M,

    You took the "economy bedroom". For us it is perfectly adequate - but some people indeed complain about the (lack of) space. The cheapest way to take Amtrak is to use Amtrak's mileage credit card, the upgrades and "free" tickets are really a bargain compared with the airline offerings, so that's what we use normally... or upgrade on board from the conductor. Costs much less, than the on-line reservation, but Amtrak does not want to tell it of course ;-)

    Otherwise yes, the only daily train is the Coast Star-LATE (that's the nickname of it because it is rarely on-time). The scenery is really nice and since the entire SF-LA strip is (in the theory) during the day, no need for sleepers.

    I would rather go the other direction tough (LA->SF) because at least it starts on-time; otherwise in SF it could (and usually does!) accumulate an hour (or more) "behind the schedule".

    The most scenic part of Coast Starlight route is in northern California/Southern Oregon, between Dunsmuir and Eugene. Waking up and seeing Shasta in the morning is priceless, I can't get enough of it.

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  • wise23girl's Profile Photo

    Re: Amtrak Train from San Francisco to Los Angeles

    by wise23girl Online Now Feb 19, 2011 at 10:30 PM

    Hey George who takes the top bunk? I was up there till 12md and we could not find the light to turn off and that made it worse. Usually I like the top bunk.

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  • GyuriFT's Profile Photo

    Re: Amtrak Train from San Francisco to Los Angeles

    by GyuriFT Online Now Feb 20, 2011 at 6:16 AM

    Depending on... sometimes me, sometimes my wife... sometimes a kid... And sometimes no one, if we are lucky. Usually with a big family you get some perks (if the next cabin is not occupied, etc).

    We have three kids and in the States the bigger the family, the cheaper it is in the sleeper / person (+more perks and fun) and more hassle at the airport (with all the security people and procedures we love to hate.)

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  • rmdw's Profile Photo

    Re: Amtrak Train from San Francisco to Los Angeles

    by rmdw Online Now Feb 20, 2011 at 12:07 PM

    A big thanks to everyone for the excellent feedback! I don't want to ride the train all the way at once but would prefer to do it in smaller chunks. What I'm thinking of doing is taking it down to Seattle (from Vancouver where I live), visiting some friends there, then flying from Seattle to San Francisco and visiting a friend there, and then taking the train again from there down to L.A. during the daytime.

    The #1 thing I'm looking for, are photo opportunities with a new camera & telephoto lens that I'm getting!!!

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  • wise23girl's Profile Photo

    Re: Amtrak Train from San Francisco to Los Angeles

    by wise23girl Online Now Feb 20, 2011 at 1:11 PM

    When we left Van Couver it was a bus ride till we crossed the border into USA...that was the early train/bus. But as Aussies we were delighted with the friendly customs man ! I just forget where we ended up jumping on the train.

    But I will never forget that top bunk.

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  • glabah's Profile Photo

    Re: Amtrak Train from San Francisco to Los Angeles

    by glabah Online Now Feb 20, 2011 at 11:56 PM

    There are 5 trains a day between Seattle, WA and Portland, Oregon. Currently, only two operate between Seattle and Vancouver, BC, but all trains into Seattle which don't otherwise have a train connection going further north have a bus connection to Vancouver, BC.

    So, the schedule of your trip probably just hit one of the buses rather than one of the trains.

    It is also possible that you managed to travel on one of the days that the train wasn't running. Due to land slide problems north of Seattle, there were several days that no trains were running north to Vancouver, but they were very few.

    The schedule on the Coast Starlight has changed, as there is ongoing track work south of Portland. I think it changes back to its standard schedule sometime in March.

    Currently, they are showing on-time performance of the Coast Starlight at 67%, which is better than it was some years back. The southbound train only is showing at 64%. It is much better than the Cardinal back east (13% or some such horrid thing). However, it is a really crowded railroad between Eugene and Sacramento, and when things do happen that make the train late, it tends to be very late. Call the 1-800 number before you go to the station to see how far away the train is, or check the train status on the web site. No use waiting at the station for a long time if the train is going to be extremely late.

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  • sheherezad's Profile Photo

    Re: Amtrak Train from San Francisco to Los Angeles

    by sheherezad Online Now Feb 21, 2011 at 3:38 AM

    Looking at the route on: amtrak.com/servlet/ContentSe..., I'd agree with Griff :-)

    I almost did it in 2005 (after attending the Congress in SF) and recall a very early morning departure (like around 5am?) but my friends in LA were not available plus the jetlag was killing me, so I couldn't do a day trip up to Santa Barbara :(

    I wanted to do it to refresh some of the spectacular memory travelling from SF to LA on Highway 1 many years ago!

    Do look up: amtrak.com/servlet/ContentSe..., too! :-)

    Enjoy SF and CA! :-)

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  • sheherezad's Profile Photo

    Re: Amtrak Train from San Francisco to Los Angeles

    by sheherezad Online Now Feb 21, 2011 at 3:40 AM

    Oops! It's yvr, not Griff (who is yvrDave?)

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