My Mom brought up taking an Amtrak train trip a while back. Specifically, Amtrak’s Coast Starlight that goes from Los Angeles to Seattle. At some point, I was with my Aunt, who also randomly mentioned that she wanted to take that train as well. I had always seen the train tracks along the coast and put off looking into it. Seems like the longer you live somewhere, the less likely you are to even remember to do things. Their interest got me to finally look into a vacation. In the end, there were seven of us that took a family trip.
By booking early, the one-way tickets to San Francisco were only $50 each. (We rented a minivan to return so that we could make a lot of stops.)
The train took 11 hours to get us to our stop. I worried that at about hour 5, I would start to say, “It seemed like a good idea at the time,” but that never happened. We went in December, but it makes more sense to do this trip in months with longer daylight so you can see the scenery the whole way up.
Five of us left from my place via Lyft to Union Station in Los Angeles. My Aunt and Uncle were coming from farther away and had reserved a ride that fell through in the morning. The car service emailed them instead of calling them, so it was a good thing they checked email. Luckily, they were able to get a cab.
The seats were comfortable with lots of legroom. We also lucked out in that our car was very quiet. I can imagine the trip would have been a very different experience had we been stuck with a loud group.
The train has a snack bar in the Sightseer car. We probably should have spent more time in that car since it is mostly windows and therefore has the best views.
I had read some reviews on a few sites that scared me into thinking the train would run out of food. It, apparently, happened to a few people. Therefore, we had a few small coolers with snacks and drinks. It turned out to be completely fine, though. We had no problems getting dinner. I still recommend tiny coolers, though. You will like the snacks you bring more than what the train offers.
None of us checked in bags since we weren’t sure how long it took to get them and were concerned about making the shuttle bus from our stop in Oakland to San Francisco. It turns out they are all kept on shelves near the bathrooms. This is great if you need your bag quickly. This is not great if you are really paranoid about someone looking through your bag. If you have to check a bag, make sure it is locked.
The shuttle bus was already waiting in Jack London Square in Oakland when we arrived.
I liked everything about this trip. The scenery is stunning. You get to go through areas you wouldn’t get to see in a car or plane. I am so used to the rigmarole of getting through an airport, so this was a treat. Everything was easy. I do plan on taking Amtrak to some other places in California, just for the fun of it. It really is nice to be able to look around instead of pretty much just staring at the road while driving.
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