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Hop aboard a train to see California's most stunning landscapes

  • All aboard in San Diego

    For business or pleasure, there is nothing more relaxing than to board Amtrak's Pacific Surfliner from San Diego's Santa Fe Depot for a ride up the picturesque Southern California coast. The Surfliner travels along a 351-mile coastal route, stopping at 27 stations along the way. All Surfliner trains feature comfortable, reclining seats with power outlets, Wi-Fi, bike and luggage racks and access to a cafe car featuring fresh food, snacks and beverages. 

    Photo courtesy of Joanne DiBona

  • Unobstructed views

    There’s no better way to soak in the picturesque scenery of the coast than through the window of an Amtrak train. The train commands an unobstructed view of the coastline that is not visible to freeway motorists (who are too busy negotiating traffic anyway). You’ll enjoy a "behind the scenes" view of quaint towns and spectacular beaches as you roll by on your train adventure.

    Photo courtesy of Tony DiBona

  • Overnight in romantic Santa Barbara

    You’ll definitely want to spend a night or two in Santa Barbara, a world-renowned destination that is rightly known as the "American Riviera" for its natural beauty and Old World charm. You’ll find a wide variety of hotel accommodations within blocks of the train station. Make it a point to visit the Old Mission Santa Barbara, known as "Queen of the Missions" for its exceptional beauty. Founded in 1786, it remains one of the most visited attractions in the city.

    Photo courtesy of Joanne DiBona

  • Seaside strolls

    No matter where you are in Santa Barbara, the ocean is just a few blocks away. You can stroll to your heart's content down the expansive beach promenade to Stearns Wharf. Venture a bit further for a picturesque walk down Santa Barbara’s Breakwater promenade. Breathe in the pure sea air, delight to the many pelicans that fly in formation overhead, see the waves break and crash on the rocks and watch playful dolphins frolic in the sea.

    Photo courtesy of Joanne DiBona

  • Local pleasures

    Santa Barbara boasts an exceptional foodie scene, owing to its proximity to sustainably caught seafood right off its shores, free-range meats and fresh vegetables that are available year-round in this garden paradise. For a combination of signature cocktails and exceptional seafood and other offerings, head out to the Bluewater Grill, located just across the pier at Stearns Wharf.

    Photo courtesy of Tony DiBona

  • Super views of super blooms

    Your rail adventure continues from Santa Barbara along the central coast on Amtrak’s Coast Starlight. While this stretch of coastline is spectacular any time of the year, the unprecedented rains that created a months-long super bloom in California made the views from the Coast Starlight’s observation car even more breathtaking than usual. All passengers have access to the observation car, which offers expansive views of the impressive landscape.

    Photo courtesy of Joanne DiBona

  • Bikers' delight

    Part of the joy of a journey by train is the ability to explore the stops along the way – and what better way to do that than by bike? This enthusiastic couple had just ended a bike tour along California's dramatic central coast and decided to return home to Oakland on the Coast Starlight (which offers efficient bicycle transport) to enjoy the scenery and the train experience. They later reported that they biked home from Oakland's depot in just 15 minutes. What a way to travel!

    Photo courtesy of Tony DiBona

  • Vistas you'll only see by train

    As the train travels inland towards San Luis Obispo, you’ll be rewarded with picturesque views on the countryside that only the train can provide. It meanders in and out of valleys, far removed from any freeways, for a visitor experience that is quite out of the ordinary.

    Photo courtesy of Joanne DiBona

  • Pulling into Oakland

    Oakland, just across the bay from San Francisco, has recently received numerous international travel awards for its multicultural food scene, its diversity, history, recreational opportunities, livability and sense of place and people. The train travels right through the heart of Oakland’s downtown!

    Photo courtesy of Tony DiBona

  • Luxury quarters steps away from the station

    You don't have to go far to find a wide array of hotel accommodations a few blocks from Oakland's state-of-the-art train station. American novelist and activist Jack London would have been proud of how Jack London Square, the esplanade named in his honor on Oakland's waterfront, looks today. Located just a short block from the Amtrak station, the Waterfront Hotel in the square offers first-class accommodations and provides a home base for exploring not only the picturesque waterfront, but all of downtown Oakland.

    Photo courtesy of Joanne DiBona

  • Historic high-rise

    Oakland was named one of the 28 "best trips" in the world for 2019, according to National Geographic Traveler and you'll definitely enjoy exploring all the reasons why. The impressive Oakland City Hall, pictured here, was completed in 1914 and carries the distinction of being the first high-rise government building in the United States.

    Photo courtesy of Tony DiBona

  • What's old is new again

    Oakland’s restored Old Town, dating back to 1877, is a must-see as you walk through the city. Back in the day, this was the place to be seen in Oakland, the center of high society, having the best restaurants, shops and hotels on cobblestone streets. And it still is – although it took a serious amount of restoring to bring it back from neglect after the 1906 earthquake. Enjoy outstanding cuisine in this neighborhood, and don’t miss the Friday farmers' market, one of the city’s best.

    Photo courtesy of Joanne DiBona

  • International cuisine

    Oakland’s foodie scene spans so many cultures, you can literally select menus from around the world in this city. Dyafa, located in Jack London Square, offers an incredibly diverse menu of Middle Eastern specialties. Many of their dishes are served on small shared plates, an ideal way to sample a variety of these unique menu items.

    Photo courtesy of Tony DiBona

  • Street art at its finest

    Art is everywhere in Oakland, even along the Amtrak rails between Martin Luther King Jr. Way and 2nd Street, just a few blocks from Jack London Square. Explore nine expressive murals created in May 2018 during Oakland Art Month on this self-guided route.

    Photo courtesy of Joanne DiBona

  • Romance on an urban lake

    No, this isn’t somewhere in Italy. This is a view on the picturesque Lake Merritt, where you can ride in a gondola to your heart’s content. Actually, the lake is one of the most unique urban spaces in the United States, boasting a 3.4-mile heart-shaped shoreline in the center of the city. Its tidal lagoon is home to the oldest designated wildlife refuge (1870) in the United States.
     

    Photo courtesy of Tony DiBona

  • All that jazz

    Oakland has long been known as offering a vibrant jazz scene, and the tradition lives on to this day. In the heart of Jack London Square at Yoshi’s, you can enjoy both exceptional Japanese cuisine as well as performances by some of the world’s most renowned jazz artists in an intimate 310-seat venue.

    Photo courtesy of Joanne DiBona

  • Vibrant downtown

    Oakland’s downtown commercial center has undergone a major redevelopment over the years, transforming it into a pedestrian-friendly, 12-city block complex with a conference center, hotel, parking garage, restaurant and BART public transport accessibility. Noontime concerts are held throughout the year.

    Photo courtesy of Tony DiBona

  • On the move

    Oakland is a city on the move, in more ways than one. An ideal year-round climate allows for all sorts of recreational opportunities, from hiking and biking to running, walking, sailing and more.

    Photo courtesy of Tony DiBona

  • Seafood delights

    Seafood lovers will rejoice in the variety of menu options throughout Oakland’s restaurants.  A local icon is the Lake Chalet Seafood Bar & Grill, a multi-level restaurant that offers dining with views over Lake Merritt.  Try the seafood deviled eggs, one of the most popular items on the restaurant’s extensive menu, a delicious twist on a decades-old recipe.

    Photo courtesy of Joanne DiBona

  • Golden sunset

    There are plenty of places to watch the sun set over Oakland. You can sip wine in Jack London Square, enjoy signature cocktails in the many rooftop bars in the heart of the city, or make your way to the Oakland Hills for a panoramic view of San Francisco just across the bay. Lake Merritt is also a perfect place to enjoy the sun descending over this award-winning city, while watching members of the Lake Merritt rowing club glide gracefully through the water.

    Photo courtesy of Joanne DiBona

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