AMTRAK to Southern California?

Great Idea!

The AMTRAK people have figured out that they’ll rustle up more business if they work with local theme parks, attractions, bus lines and hotels to create nice packages and tours. Or, if you don’t care for an organized package, perhaps a discount travel card that will give you great flexibility in scooting around a good portion of the Golden State over the course of 21 days will scratch your itch. Hit theAMTRAK Vacations website for lot of great information about planning a trip by train, including packages and tours.

First, consider whether you might want to make the trip to California by train. If so, take a look at the USA Rail Pass, which allows you to take the train on from 8 to 18 segments over a period of from 15 to 45 days. Prices as of this writing are from $389 to $749 with children around half the adult fare stated here. This would allow you to include Southern California train travel as part of a bigger vacation picture.

The California Rail Pass is another option if you don’t plan any interstate travel. This pass is good for seven days of economy-class travel in California over a 21-day period. Adults pay $159 and children age 2 – 15 pay $80. The California Rail Pass is available on a few different routes, including the Pacific Surfliner between San Diego and San Luis Obispo. That would also get you to Los Angeles and Orange County. This does not include any tours, only train travel on your schedule (although you do need reservations for each leg of the trip).

Yet another option would be to sign up for an unescorted train travel tour,California Dreamin’ by train, which takes you from Los Angeles up to San Francisco with day tours in Hollywood, Santa Barbara, the California coastal wine country near Paso Robles and a tour of Hearst Castle. There are dinners and numerous activities to choose from.

Here is a sample itinerary from the website:

  • DAY 1-2 Arrive and Explore Los Angeles
  • DAY 3 Los Angeles to Santa Barbara
  • DAY 4 Enjoy Santa Barbara
  • DAY 5 Santa Barbara to Paso Robles
  • DAY 6 Enjoy Paso Robles & Vineyards
  • DAY 7 Paso Robles to San Francisco (Including Hearst Castle)
  • DAY 8 Enjoy San Francisco
  • DAY 9 Vacation Ends in San Francisco

Here is a partial list of the main features included in the package:

  • Eight nights’ hotel accomodations
  • One Way Amtrak from Los Angeles to San Francisco
  • Five Tours (LA, Santa Barbara, Wine Country, Hearst Castle, and San Francisco Tours)
  • Picnic lunch at a vineyard
  • Box Lunch at Hearst Castle
  • Forty-minute Building the Dream movie at Hearst Castle’s National Geographic Theater
  • Dinner in San Francisco
  • Santa Barbara Adventure Coupon Book
  • All Transfers in Paso Robles

You could actually adjust the package to start with a couple of days in San Diego, then take the train up to Los Angeles and join this tour. After this tour ends in San Francisco you would have the ability to add the leg all the way up to Seattle (at additional cost of course).

AMTRAK coordinates with bus services to provide tours to places like Yosemite as well. If you have any leaning towards including train travel on this SoCal vacation, spend some time on the official website that we’ve given you above. Here’s a link with good information about traveling by AMTRAK.