Train Trip to Southern California from the Bay Area

Parent Q&A

  • Amtrak to San Diego?

    (10 replies)

    We have a car sick kid who's pretty sure he wants to take the train to San Diego - he feels like being able to walk around will help with the motion sickness, I'm not so sure. Has anyone done this trip? How was it? I know it takes way longer than driving (and isn't cheap) but we don't want to fly so that's our only other option. Thanks in advance for your thoughts!

    RE: Amtrak to San Diego? ()

    It is reasonably cost effective, cheaper than flying. There are segments with bus or train so make sure you get all train segments and no busses and it will take 13-16 hours. It is really fun and beautiful. You can walk around and there are viewing cars. You have to stop and switch trains at Los Angeles  union station. My husband who is pretty easily motion sick can read on the train without getting motion sick. If you want to test it out you could take the train to Davis its close by and would be a good test before commiting to possibly 16 hours. I recommend the trip. It's fun!

    RE: Amtrak to San Diego? ()

    I get car sick and had no trouble on the Amtrak to Reno. Maybe take a test-run on the Amtrak by going back and forth to Sacramento to make sure he is OK.

    RE: Amtrak to San Diego? ()

    I took the Coast Starlight to LA with my daughter. It takes a long time but is very pretty. There is also a train/bus that goes via Bakersfield. Train to Bakersfield and then a bus to LA. My husband has taken that, but we haven't. It is faster.

Archived Q&A and Reviews


Amtrak to Disneyland??

April 2014

Our 7 year old train enthusiast REALLY wants to take the train to Disneyland from the east bay. It seems like one could take the Coast Starlight into LA and rent a car from there - am wondering if anyone has done this trip recently and your thoughts on it? The appeal of not having to drive, the scenery and the ability to move around freely definitely appeals....thanks!! disney bound

My 5 year old and I traveled to Amaheim for a conference near Disney. We flew down and were picked up by a family friend and stayed at a hotel walking distance to Disney. We did not rent a car, on the way home we took a cab to Closest train. Transferred (in LA central?) and got a roomette home to Emeryville. Return trip was wonderful!!! Thinking of doing the round trip via train no car. Roomette!

I took Amtrak to Disneyland some years ago with my then 5 year old. My sister picked us up in Glendale. It was a looooong trip, basically one whole day on the train there, and another one on the way back. Before you decide, check the schedules on the Amtrak website and then add 2 hours, and think about whether you want to spend the time. A few months ago we took a train trip to San Luis Obispo and back. It was nice in a lot of ways, but on the way back we were delayed an extra 1.5 hours and we were so tired when we got in. Maybe do a Sacramento train trip instead, to satisfy your train fanatic - it's just the right amount of time and there's the train museum to visit. As to D-Land, the plane trip is short, and there are lots of hotels either in walking distance, or that have shuttles, so you really do not need to have a car. local mom

We took the train in 2008 with my 10 year old. It was a good idea. The Coast Starlight does take ~11 hours, but it was ok and not boring. There was an observation car. On the return, which you may consider, we took the bus/train route - from LA bus/train terminal, a very comfortable 2 hr bus ride to Bakersfield, then a 7 hr ride on the San Joaquin..a little faster than the coast route. There is also a connection in LA to the Surfliner which goes into Anaheim. kathy

Amtrak Coastal Starlite down the coast?

March 2012

Has anyone taken Amtrak's Coastal Starlite train down the coast? We are thinking of going from Oakland to LA on this train. It's a 12-hour trip, so our plan is to go down one day, spend the next day in LA, and then take the train back up. But perhaps that's too much train time. We also don't want to rent a car for the day, so we're wondering if we will be able to get around on foot/public transportation once we hit LA. So any advice on how to make this a fun and doable trip would be appreciated. Love public transportation

Around 30 years ago I took this train from LA to San Jose. It was about 2 hours late and we missed the last bus. This is the kind of question you want to google about. Recently I read in some column about someone taking the train to Denver (still Amtrak but a different train)(that I also took many years ago, and enjoyed), and that it was a super dump, filthy wet carpet, needed refurbishment etc. Maybe the Coastal Starlight is in better condition though. For a more do-able end point for overnight, try getting off in Santa Barbara, or even sooner, so you aren't exhausted already. Have fun! I like trains too. anon

I haven't taken the Coastal Starlight to LA, but I have taken it from the Bay Area to Santa Barbara, as well as from Santa Barbara to San Diego. I love to travel by train and it's a lovely train ride along the coast. But . . . I will warn you that this train is chronically late, especially (in my experience) in the Southern portion of the trip. More than once I tried to take it and it was snagged up in Oregon or something and was going to be hours, hours late and I was put instead on one of their buses. These buses are very nice, much nicer than Greyhound, but still, it's not at all the charming and relaxing train ride I was hoping for. Now, I haven't ridden the train in about 5 years, so maybe things have changed since then. (I hope!) -- choo choo

I took the coast starlite down to Santa Barbara a long time ago. I was really disappointed that by the time I got to the ocean, it was dark (hence the name?). I suppose you wouldn't have that problem on the way back. It was a loooong train ride and I never did it again. anon

We just took the coast starlight north, to Portland. I have taken the train south to LA as well, though it was a long time ago. I love the train, it's so relaxing and pretty too-the LA route goes along the coast. Going overnight is a bit hard, didn't sleep so well, but if it is going during the day, I say go for it! I don't know about LA itself and getting around there. My kids also love the train. love trains