All Aboard!


For those of you contemplating a nice trip without having to drive – we all know how traffic is regularly, now throw-in the summer tourist and well … you know. Since the summer travel season is at our doorstep I have a very nice alternative, the train. 

A couple of Sunday’s ago the husband and I decided to take Amtrak from Irvine to Santa Barbara for a day-trip on the Pacific Surfliner. Neither of us have taken the train (in the U.S.) nor had we been to Santa Barbara. Gasp, yes, I know. Anyhoo, it was a fantastic experience. We were able to get somewhere in Southern California, a couple of hours away, without white-knuckling it ‘cause we were so stressed from creeping along on the freeway. What’s more relaxing than watching the sunset over the Pacific?train sunset 

On the advice from friends who have made the same trip or use the train occasionally we upgraded our tickets to Business Class. Since we went on a Sunday we were told, correctly, that the return trip gets very crowded with weekenders returning home. For $14 more a ticket you are guaranteed a seat (not assigned) plus you get complimentary snacks, the paper, and a free alcoholic beverage (just show your ticket to the guy behind the counter of the cafe car). Nice! Our car was virtually empty. Granted this is before tourist season really hits, but the coach cars were packed.

Here’s my little tip: if you get on the train south of Los Angeles, going north, and want to see the ocean, which by the way, doesn’t come into view until you are north of Oxnard, sit on the right side of the train i.e. the side closest to the mountains. Yes, it sounds wrong, but after L.A. the train loops around, so if you were facing forward before L.A. now you’ll be going backwards. So, is it clear as mud?

3 Comments so far

  1. jumpcut on April 15th, 2009 @ 4:13 pm

    How did you get around once you got there? Is the station walking distance to the pier? Is there a car rental place within walking distance? Are you sick of all my questions yet?

  2. pittrollie on April 15th, 2009 @ 7:59 pm

    Jump ~

    Since we just went for the day we only had our two feet and it was perfect for first-time SB visitors such as ourselves. Nothing is inconvenient from the train station. The pier is only two blocks from the station, which is on State Street. The main shopping district is also on State in the opposite direction from the pier.

    There are two winery tasting rooms across the street from the station, we went to Giessinger (I forget the other name, but it is literally next door) and had 18 tastes for $10. My understanding is there are others in downtown SB as well.

    As for the car rental, I don’t know. However, SB really promotes being car free. They offer an inexpensive downtown hop-on hop-off shuttle as well as busses. You may want to check out For another option, Amtrak allows you to bring a bike, which is something we may look into the next time we go.

    Hope that helps. Let me know if you have any other questions.

    Tracy AKA PittRollie

  3. Dave Share (daveshare) on April 15th, 2009 @ 11:24 pm

    Thanks for the heads up! I always consider taking the train south to San Diego, but I often forget about Santa Barbara. And taking the bikes…..duh…..I never even considered that!

Terms of use | Privacy Policy | Content: Creative Commons | Site and Design © 2009 | Metroblogging ® and Metblogs ® are registered trademarks of Bode Media, Inc.