Thursday, February 21, 2013

Leave Your Car in LA - Take Amtrak Instead

It was more than 10 years ago that I first hopped an Amtrak train from San Francisco to Los Angeles. When we rolled into LA's Union Station over four hours late in a rainstorm, it made me think twice about taking the train again. Since then, I've driven the SF-LA route dozens of times, often swearing in frustration at big traffic jams on the I-5 Fwy. 

This week I boarded the Coast Starlight train again and gave Amtrak another shot. Not only was the train impeccably on time, it was even more comfortable than driving my own Subaru. My upper-deck train seat was at least twice as wide as on a plane, and when the coach car attendant walked around handing out free sleeping pillows, I was gobsmacked.

During lunch in the dining car, as I was looking out panoramic observation windows onto the Pacific coast, I whiled away a relaxing hour chatting with other travelers. Mostly we talked about why we chose to take the train instead of driving or flying: the slower pace of rail travel, the unbeatable views, and bonding with family and friends en route, not to mention shrinking our carbon footprints.

When the Coast Starlight chugged into the tiny train station that was my final destination, I was reluctant to step off onto the platform. When was the last time I felt that way about an airplane ride? Never.

Come over and join me on Instagram to see more pictures of this week's California trip by train!

Related links:
Coastal California: The Anti-Hotel Top 10 List
All Aboard Amtrak's National Train Day
Fall Travel: Sunshine on California's Coast

Photo credit: Sara J. Benson (postcard via Gogobot)


  1. Nice, I'll have to try this route. I've taken the Amtrak from Oakland to Southern Oregon on the sleeper car, and from LA to San Diego but never from NorCal to LA. I did recently take Megabus from San Jose to LA and that was surprisingly comfortable (and cheap!)

  2. Definitely - the section from LA to San Luis Obispo is my favorite stretch of track in California. Hope you'll enjoy it, too!