If you aren’t fond of driving like I am, you look for alternatives when you travel. So, when I was asked to attend a convention in Escondido as a guest voiceover actor, I requested they book me a ticket on the Amtrak Pacific Surfliner train from Union Station in Los Angeles to Oceanside.
Trains are romantic, let you relax along the way, and beat all the traffic. That’s a plus for an Angelino like me. And I always love visiting Union Station in downtown LA because it’s newly restored and gorgeous.
My roommate dropped me off at the LA Metro station in Pasadena and I took it directly to the train station. The convention hosts had booked me business class, which was nice. However, there isn’t much difference between coach and business class, except that I was given a box of train treats. (Cookies, crackers, nuts, etc.) It was a nice touch, although I didn’t really need the extra calories.
Amtrak offers seniors a 10% discount so if you are taking the train to San Diego or Santa Barbara it’s quite affordable. The Surfliner runs as far as San Luis Obispo, which is 351 miles from San Diego, and is a wonderful way to see the Southern Californian coast and its scenic beauty.
After leaving Union Station, we made stops in Fullerton, Anaheim, Santa Ana, and Irvine. All the train stations on this route have their own unique looks. Fullerton and Santa Ana are old Spanish Style and Irvine and Anaheim are shiny and modern.
Once you get to San Juan Capistrano, which is an amazing stop near the old mission, you will see ocean views most of the way.
If you are heading up to Santa Barbara, or San Luis Obispo, it is almost all ocean views so make sure to sit on the “sea side” of the train.
Most of the passengers ride on the upper deck which can be a little challenging if you are hauling luggage. The lower berth is reserved for the elderly or those with mobility issues. I had no problem on my way to San Diego, but I collected extra baggage at the convention so it was a little more difficult. I know it would have been easier if I’d driven but taking the train is so much more fun.
There is a café on the lower deck where you can get breakfast, sandwiches, beverages, beer, and wine. It isn’t fancy but very convenient.
A stay at Mission Beach
After my conference ended, I got a ride to Mission Beach in San Diego to visit my brother and his family who were in town staying at their summer beach house. I hadn’t seen him since before the pandemic, so I spent a couple of days enjoying the beach. It was Halloween weekend and people were skateboarding and bike riding down the boardwalk in costume.
The next morning, I met up for coffee and a walk to the Catamaran with my travel blogger friend Elaine J. Masters the Trip Well Gal.
My brother had to drive up north for a few hours so after my walk with Elaine, I took another long walk down the boardwalk and around the bay.
Later that day, my brother coerced me to take a one-hour bike ride down almost to La Jolla. I hadn’t been on a bike since I rode down Haleakalā in Maui 20 years ago, but it all came back to me.
We did another long walk before sunset to walk his 3 standard poodles.
When I checked my health app on my smartphone I had done 21,700 steps plus the bike ride and lived to tell about it. As you can imagine, I was quite proud of my accomplishment.
Photos of Mission Beach
Please click on the images below to see them full-size in a gallery.
When it was time to go back to LA, my brother dropped me off at the Old Town San Diego train station. I had a coach ticket this time which was perfectly fine and just as comfortable even though there were no train treats.
For someone who lives in a “driving” city like me, taking the train is a treat and I would do it again in a heartbeat.
Do you like riding on trains? What is your favorite “train” destination? Please leave a comment below.