Amtrak’s Pacific Surfliner: A Unique Way to See Southern California

When most people first travel to the Golden Coast, the sheer volume of sights, tours, and famous people can overwhelm them. California, and specifically Southern California, offers tourists a rich array of opportunity beyond most other vacation destinations. With amazing weather year-round, a rich blend of historical charm and modern, Hollywood inspired indulgence, both San Diego and Los Angeles are prime vacation destinations. However, one mistake that too many tourists make when travelling to So-Cal, is to neglect the unique beauty that first brought settlers here both from Mexico and the original colonies of the United States – amazing beaches and fantastic scenery.

The railway along the coast of California

The Pacific Coast

East coasters especially fail to grasp the beauty of the Pacific Ocean. Though more than a little colder temperature-wise, the crystal blue waters of the Pacific combined with its amazing, surf-worthy waves make it magical even to look over. Many, more local tourists take advantage of this beauty through a day drive up the Pacific Coast Highway. However, if you are from far away, on a budget or simply not brave enough to chance the worst commuter traffic in America, there is still an option for you to see the Pacific Coast in an entirely different light.

Amtrak’s Pacific Surfliner

The 350 miles of rail track between San Diego and San Luis Obispo, CA represent Amtrak’s Pacific Surfliner Route. The double-decker trains run 12 daily round trip routes throughout the day and evening hours. They stop at several notable locations in between these destinations, with major stops in Los Angeles and Santa Barbara. The Pacific Surfliner can be an amazing alternative to the 405 freeway and provides travellers with a unique California experience that highlights all the diversity that the land has to offer.

Notable Stops and Scenery

The Pacific Surfliner provides tourists the opportunity to see the California coast in unique and exciting ways. Passengers can board directly from a beach-side station in San Clemente, north of San Diego, or opt for a more urban option at Los Angeles’ Union Station.

Perhaps the most memorable stretch of the Surfliner route is between north Los Angeles and San Luis Obispo. Through here, the train hugs to coast line from the city of Oxnard until it hits Vandenberg Air Force Base. It passes by famous sights such as Pismo Beach, Gaviota State Beach, and Santa Maria, weaving through the valleys of this amazing state, rich with grape vines and farmlands that provide fresh food and wine all over the United States and the world.

Mass Transit Done Right

For those interested in tourist passes for either San Diego or Los Angeles, the option of riding the Surfliner allows easy, stress-free mobility between these two major cities and the ability to capitalize on the cross-city offering on both the Go Los Angeles and San Diego Go Card. Without having to lay out money for a rental car, you can easily travel between places and stay as long as you like.

However, one of the most amazing aspects of the Pacific Surfliner route comes just from the experience of riding it. At $58, the coach class round-trip from San Diego to San Luis Obispo is the most expensive fare you will find, which only enhances the ephemeral experience of modern rail travel. The Pacific Surfliner offers beautiful interiors, comfortable seating, and a hearty and delicious dining car reminiscent of another time. Parents and children, couples and friends can benefit from the freedom that rail travel offers. Instead of navigating traffic, you are free to talk, play cards, and enjoy the beauty of the California coast together.