Described as "A Grand West Coast Train Adventure," Amtrak's Coast Starlight train ride is a 35 hour, daily ride across the coast. You'll pass everything that the beautiful states have to offer, from the vast stretches of the Pacific Ocean, to Mount Shasta, to the snowy Cascade Range. You'd think a trip like this would cost you a pretty penny. But it's only $97 for a coach seat.
Here's the West Coast route, from Seattle to Los Angeles, with all the stops on the way. Some stops include Portland, Sacramento, San Francisco, San Jose, and Santa Barbara. It's definitely a way to traverse three states in style.
The train offers all sorts of extra amenities, from food sourced from the regions along the stop, an arcade room, onboard theater, and specialty coffee bar. It's also a slice of history, being one of Amtrak's last sleeper trains left, and in general one of the last remaining full-service sleeper trains in the country.
The Pacific Parlour Car in the Coast Starlight holds wine tastings and serves continental breakfast, all with a spectacular view of the surrounding scenery. Windows spanning from the floor to the ceiling help display that view, making it a favorite viewing area for those aboard the train. There are only five other Pacific Parlor Cars left in the country.
While you're soaking up the scenery, you also get to stay connected. The train offer complimentary wifi for those of you who can't leave work at home or who want to keep the world updated on your trip without eating up any of your data. The train may be a step back in time, but it's outfitted with the latest technology you need to travel in comfort.
The train got its name from a combination of the Coast Daylight train and the Starlight, two other Southern Pacific Railroad trains. The Coast Starlight was the first train to connect Seattle to Los Angeles, thus earning the name combination. It's been in operation continuously since 1971, when Amtrak first went into business.
Just one of the stunning views passengers experience aboard the train, the Santa Barbara coastline offers an unbeatable look at the Pacific Ocean. You can sip wine, check out the surf, and even snack on cheese with the variety of dining options aboard the train. And you can do it all without ever leaving your seat.
Of course, you can leave your seat if you wish. Travelers have the option of boarding the train whenever they wish among the stops, and stopping to enjoy the many sights offered along the intricately planned route. Just make sure to plan the connecting train: the Coast Starlight runs round trip, so you can catch it on the way back. Disclaimer: Yes, at this point the trip will run you more than $97, but it's still a steal.
The train offers incredible views of Mt. Shasta right from the comfort of the cars. One reviewer who took the trip wrote, "The scenery was drop dead gorgeous, the trip was relaxing and on time...[e]ndless educational opportunities."
Since the train runs year round, each season offers new sights for those taking the ride. Clear skies and sunny coasts make the summer a tantalizing time to take the trip, but the promise of a winter wonderland await those opting to board in the colder months. Of course, at $97, you could always take the train more than once.
Amtrak offers virtual tours of their Superliner cars, one of the seat upgrades passengers can select. The full blueprint of the cars is laid out for you to get an idea of what you will experience aboard the train. Explore bedroom suites, bath, and the exterior to help you make the decision if you want to add a little extra money to your trip for the accommodations.
The Coast Starlight partners with the Trails & Rails program, hosted by the National Park Service. Running through areas like the Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park, the train speeds through amazing pieces of history which people have the option of stopping to see. Educational opportunities are also available aboard the train, with park rangers present to give talks and answer questions. Many people also use the train as an opportunity to further their travel, and connect with other nearby opportunities like hiking in Glacier National Park or transferring to an Alaskan Cruise.
Most every car on the train is an observation car, but the Coast Starlight offers this observation room experience for passengers seeking the ultimate sightseeing adventure. "The views on the Coast Starlight are unsurpassed," writes Amtrak. Their Facebook page offers a 360 degree viewing of what it's like to be aboard the car.
The train glides over areas like Salt Creek, glazed over with freshly fallen snow in the winter seasons. There's nothing the train ride misses, from sparkling oceans to powdered trees. Talk about idyllic.
Do you need more of a reason to start booking your next getaway? Far cheaper than the price of air travel, you get to experience the West Coast in style like you've never seen it before. We'll see you on the train.