8 Automotive-Free Trip Stops on Amtrak’s Pacific Surfliner | SoCal Wanderer | Meals & Discovery
Amtrak’s Pacific Surfliner line is a 351-mile rail route from San Luis Obispo to San Diego — passing by way of Santa Barbara, Ventura, Los Angeles and Orange Counties alongside the way in which, a lot of the time hugging the Southern California shoreline.
Even higher? Lots of the Amtrak practice stations alongside the Pacific Surfliner route are inside strolling distance to a few of its locations’ most fascinating points of interest.
Whether or not you are touring coach or enterprise class, you have obtained your alternative of greater than a dozen spherical journeys each day between Los Angeles and San Diego alone — with stops in a number of inland and seaside cities alongside the way in which.
Given SoCal’s robust automobile tradition, it could really feel somewhat uncomfortable to go away your personal wheels at house when setting off on an journey. However there’s one thing so extremely snug about not having to battle visitors, break the financial institution when filling up the tank or fear about the place to make a pit cease for diaper adjustments or adults who simply cannot maintain it in for very lengthy.
On the Pacific Surfliner, you’ll be able to simply sit again in your reclining seat, cost your telephone or laptop computer and watch the world go by from both the underside or the highest stage of the double-decker practice.
So, pack a lunch or seize a snack on board, put on good strolling footwear — and when you’re all in favour of two-wheeling your approach by way of your vacation spot, deliver your bicycle on board! You’ll be able to even keep on surfboards, golf golf equipment, fishing poles and different massive gadgets in lieu of baggage. (And you’ll all the time verify them with a baggage attendant.)
Touring with a furry pal? Add a pet reservation to your small canine or cat to your coach class journey for a charge (or Amtrak Visitor Rewards factors) every approach. (Certified service animals are all the time welcome onboard at no cost.)
For essentially the most flexibility, buy your tickets upfront on-line or at an Amtrak station. A lot-appreciated fare reductions are additionally out there for teenagers, college students, navy personnel, veterans, seniors and extra.
Whether or not you are searching for a fast seaside getaway, a historic journey or a household trip with out the minivan, this is a information to the last word SoCal practice tour — together with the place to go, what to do while you get there and learn how to get round as soon as your toes put on out.
1. San Luis Obispo, Central Coast
1/3 The outside of the chapel at Mission San Luis Obispo de Tolosa positioned a few dozen blocks away from the SLO practice station. | Sandi Hemmerlein
2/3 A fountain sits simply exterior the chapel on the Mission San Luis Obispo de Tolosa. | Sandi Hemmerlein
3/3 A set of three previous mission bells hold prominently within the courtyard on the Mission San Luis Obispo de Tolosa. | Sandi Hemmerlein
Alongside this coastal path to the northernmost cease on the Pacific Surfliner, San Luis Obispo, you will go by way of the Vandenberg Air Pressure Base, maybe providing a glimpse of what SpaceX is perhaps as much as. And when you arrive at SLO, you do not even have to go away the depot to start your journey!
Begin off on the San Luis Obispo Railroad Museum, positioned within the circa 1894 freight home of the Southern Pacific Railroad, proper on the finish of the platform. Contained in the museum, you will discover a time capsule of Nineteenth- and Twentieth-century railroading — whether or not passenger or freight, public or personal. And open air, you could find a historic caboose, boxcars, pushcars and a circa 1926 Pullman café statement automobile.
Stroll lower than a mile to the core of SLO’s downtown, the place you’ll be able to discover — and even contribute to — the completely disgusting Bubblegum Alley. It is half communal artwork mission, half oddball vacationer attraction, positioned in a slender pedestrian passage off Higuera Avenue between Backyard and Broad streets. The encircling blocks are additionally house to a kids’s museum, artwork museum and historical past heart — the latter of which provides each guided strolling excursions and downloadable self-guided strolling tour itineraries of the instant surrounding space and past.
Additionally a few dozen blocks away from the SLO practice station is the Mission San Luis Obispo de Tolosa, established by Franciscan padre Junípero Serra in 1772. You might spend no less than a few hours there, admiring the backyard and the unique bronze mission bells on show — and perhaps even taking in a mass. Docent-led excursions are supplied each day at 1:15 p.m., besides Sundays once they happen at 2 p.m. As you discover, hold your eyes open for the place individuals are really buried each within the flooring and the partitions.
Amtrak provides a reduction on tickets bought for touring to and/or from SLO by way of the Pacific Surfliner as a part of the San Luis Obispo Automotive Free Program. To go farther afield, present your Pacific Surfliner ticket for a free switch on San Luis Obispo Regional Transit Authority (SLORTA) and SLO Transit buses, which may take you so far as Morro Bay and even Cambria and Hearst Citadel.
2. Santa Barbara, Central Coast
1/2 Boats docked at Stearns Wharf, one among Santa Barbara’s two fashionable harbor locations. | Sandi Hemmerlein
2/2 The Lil’ Toot — a tiny tugboat-turned-water taxi — shuttles passengers between Stearns Wharf and Santa Barbara Harbor. | Sandi Hemmerlein
You’ll be able to’t get extra centrally positioned in Santa Barbara than the place you will disembark from the Pacific Surfliner. Subsequent door to the practice depot on State Avenue is the Reagan Ranch Heart, the place historical past buffs can brush up on their Ronald Reagan trivia and see a bit of the Berlin Wall earlier than heading to The Funk Zone, a.okay.a. the “funky” space of downtown Santa Barbara that is bursting with artwork, procuring, wine tasting rooms and eateries.
Or, hoof it down State Avenue all the way in which to the Dolphin Fountain at Cabrillo Boulevard and enter Stearns Wharf — one among Santa Barbara’s two fashionable harbor locations. There, you’ll be able to seize some seafood or hop on one of many scenic coastal cruises supplied by Celebration Cruises. In case you’ve obtained youngsters in tow, they will love the Lil’ Toot — a tiny tugboat-turned-water taxi (with a smiley face painted on its bow) that shuttles passengers between Stearns Wharf and Santa Barbara Harbor, the place you’ll be able to stroll the breakwater or go to the Santa Barbara Maritime Museum. Advance tickets are really helpful, as area on the boat is proscribed.
If inland points of interest are extra interesting to you, stroll somewhat over a mile to Santa Barbara’s circa 1929 Spanish Colonial Revival-style courthouse, whose picturesque Mural Room, Sunken Backyard and Clock Tower are open for self-guided excursions to members of the general public visiting the courthouse on non-official enterprise. (Santa Barbara County Courthouse Docent Council will quickly resume its docent-led excursions of the areas.)
All courthouse guests are topic to a safety screening and present face protecting necessities.
Amtrak provides a reduction on tickets bought for touring to and/or from Santa Barbara by way of the Pacific Surfliner as a part of the Santa Barbara Automotive Free program. To go farther afield, present your Pacific Surfliner ticket for a free switch on Santa Barbara Metropolitan Transit District buses or one of many Downtown and Waterfront Shuttles (though service for the latter is briefly suspended for the COVID-19 pandemic).
3. Carpinteria, Central Coast
1/2 The view from the Carpinteria Bluffs Nature Protect, simply 2 miles from the practice station. From atop the bluffs, you’ll be able to watch the harbor seals within the Carpinteria Seal Sanctuary at a protected distance. | Sandi Hemmerlein
2/2 A view of Carpinteria Seal Sanctuary from the Carpinteria Bluffs Nature Protect. Under, harbor seals relaxation on the shore. | Sandi Hemmerlein
Using the rails and going car-free may provide the good excuse to discover a hidden gem of Santa Barbara County: Carpinteria. Lower than a half-mile from the practice station is the free Carpinteria Valley Museum of Historical past, whose exhibit galleries give attention to native historical past together with the indigenous individuals who as soon as known as the realm house, in addition to later colonists and pioneers.
To expertise Carpinteria’s pure historical past first-hand, stroll lower than a half-mile from the depot to the Ash Avenue entrance of Carpinteria Salt Mash Nature Park — an important wetland habitat that is partially used for analysis by the College of California and partially open to the general public, because of the Land Belief for Santa Barbara County. The general public path — which is open throughout daylight — is only a quarter-mile lengthy, providing you with a tiny glimpse of this this 230-acre reserve, which remains to be present process habitat restoration efforts.
Carpinteria State Seashore can also be inside straightforward strolling distance — however when you’ve obtained a spring in your step (or a bicycle at your disposal), it is effectively price touring 2 miles from the practice station to the Carpinteria Bluffs Nature Protect. From atop the bluffs, you’ll be able to watch the harbor seals within the Carpinteria Seal Sanctuary at a protected distance — which is very necessary between December and the top of Might, when the rookery space seaside is closed for pupping season. In case your toes are failing you, switch at no cost on the practice station to the Santa Barbara Metropolitan District Route 20/Carpinteria Line bus, which may additionally take you to the seal protect.
For a good wilder expertise, the bizarre and sticky Tar Pits Park is positioned between Carpinteria State Seashore and Carpinteria Bluffs Nature Protect. It is a part of Carpinteria’s “Oil Seeps,” which could possibly be as a lot as 2.5 million years previous. Pure tar deposits from this “asphalt lake” erupt to the floor and bulge out in hulking, black tar gobs that when helped seal Chumash boats and baskets — and pave Carpinteria’s roads. Convey a pair of sacrificial footwear you do not thoughts getting gooey, or pack some oil to take away tar out of your pores and skin and footwear.
4. Ventura, Central Coast
The Pacific Surfliner drops its passengers off virtually on the doorstep of the Ventura County Fairgrounds (a great choice for visiting the Truthful, which runs August 3 to 14 this 12 months) and Ventura Raceway — however these aren’t the one points of interest simply reachable from the Ventura practice depot. For instance, the Metropolis of Ventura’s downloadable Historic Strolling Tour brochure will information you to lots of the historic websites of Downtown Ventura — together with Metropolis Corridor (previously the county courthouse), town’s first submit workplace, historic theatres and lodges, and the Previous Mission Basilica San Buenaventura.
Lower than a half-mile stroll from the practice, the mission was the ninth of the Spanish missions to be based in California — and the final to be established by Junípero Serra, in 1782. During the last two-plus centuries, this “Mission by the Sea” has survived a number of earthquakes (and ensuing tidal waves), the specter of a pirate assault in 1818, and even secularization in 1836. The mission additionally consists of ruins of the previous Mission Aqueduct that when introduced water from the Ventura River – together with a filtering tank and remnants of the unique Zanja.
In case you’re feeling actually formidable — and do not thoughts an uphill climb — head to Ventura Botanical Gardens within the hills above metropolis corridor, the place you will discover the most effective ocean views for miles. Though it was forcibly closed for practically a 12 months after getting scorched within the devastating Thomas Fireplace on the finish of 2017, it has been replanted and has bounced again — regardless of practically each plant (6,000 or extra) having perished within the wildfire.
Head up the Botanical Backyard Path to get pleasure from Mediterranean climate-friendly vegetation within the California Natives, South African Cape and Chilean gardens. The entire improvement of its 107 acres — significantly within the higher gardens — will not be accomplished till 2050. However there’s nonetheless loads to see, particularly within the decrease gardens. And the upper you go, the extra you will cool off because of these ocean breezes, which make this a snug go to even in the course of summer time.
To go farther afield, present your Pacific Surfliner ticket for a free switch on Ventura County Transportation Fee and Gold Coast Transit buses.
5. Irvine, Orange County
Concertgoers are greater than acquainted with the Irvine cease on the Pacific Surfliner (additionally a part of the Metrolink commuter line) for its proximity to FivePoint Amphitheatre, constructed on the previous web site of Irvine Meadows Amphitheatre (which was demolished in 2016). And whereas town of Irvine has loads of different points of interest to supply solo vacationers and households alike, the vacation spot that is closest to the practice station — Nice Park — can also be one that would entertain you all day.
Constructed on 1,300 acres of the previous Marine Corps Air Station “El Toro” (which operated from 1943 to 1999), 450 acres of the park have been developed thus far — with a further 230 acres nonetheless in progress. Make your first cease the Nice Park Guests Heart, the place you will get oriented with a park map, make a pit cease at a restroom and decide up any further snacks earlier than heading to one of many many sports activities amenities — together with soccer fields, baseball diamonds, softball fields and basketball courts — or different play areas that can certainly tire the youngsters out.
The Guests Heart is the place it’s also possible to get your free boarding go for the massive orange tethered balloon trip — one of many largest such rides you will discover wherever, and the primary of its variety within the U.S. The balloon trip, which soars to 400 toes above the bottom, is open mornings, afternoons and evenings Thursday by way of Sunday (with a brief closure between 3 and seven p.m.). Experience availability is dependent upon correct flight circumstances — so to verify the native climate and standing of the balloon, you’ll be able to name forward at 949-724-6247.
Additionally on the Guests Heart, you should buy single tickets or an all-day trip go for the Nice Park Carousel, which runs Thursdays and Fridays from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. and weekends from 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. You will not discover simply horses on this menagerie-style carousel — but additionally a panda, a tiger, a wild boar and extra.
From the carousel, comply with the Walkable Historic Timeline to study navy affairs within the time that this web site was utilized by the Marines — after which head to Hangar 244, inbuilt 1944 throughout World Battle II and restored as an historic exhibit gallery. From there, you’ll be able to proceed on to the Palm Court docket Arts Advanced, the place the Nice Park Gallery and Artist Studios have hosted free artwork openings and reveals in repurposed navy buildings since 2011. You will discover a variety of Canary Island palm bushes within the courtyard, in addition to a classic airplane static show and blue glass outlines of “ghost” buildings (which have been demolished).
To go farther afield, present your Pacific Surfliner ticket for a free switch on Orange County Transportation Authority and iShuttle buses.
6. San Clemente, Orange County
1/3 Contained in the Casa Romantica provides a pleasant instance of the “previous Spain class” that influenced the streetscapes of the remainder of San Clemente. | Sandi Hemmerlein
2/3 The Casa Romantica exterior options 2.5 acres of gardens which might be open to the general public each day besides Mondays and federal holidays. | Sandi Hemmerlein
3/3 Casa Romantica provides a panoramic view of the San Clemente shoreline. | Sandi Hemmerlein
Take the Pacific Surfliner to San Clemente’s practice station at 615 Avenida Victoria, positioned virtually on the entrance to the 1300-foot-long San Clemente Pier (circa 1928, renovated in 2009) alongside town’s 2.3-mile-long seaside path. From there, you’ll be able to keep and benefit from the seaside or stroll up Avenida Victoria (which turns into Avenida del Mar, a important thoroughfare) to Casa Romantica Cultural Heart and Gardens — as soon as the 15-room household house of San Clemente founder Ole Hanson, who envisioned making a “Spanish Village by the Sea.”
Casa Romantica — which Hanson known as “Hacienda San Clemente” — provides a pleasant instance of the “previous Spain class” that influenced the streetscapes of the remainder of San Clemente. The historic house museum, artwork gallery and a pair of.5 acres of gardens are open to the general public each day besides Mondays and federal holidays. Admission is free the primary Sunday of the month.
Extra Spanish Colonial Revival-style buildings will be discovered all through the nationally-recognized historic district of San Clemente’s North Seashore — which you’ll be able to attain by strolling a mile up the seaside, taking the Metrolink practice one cease north (to the different San Clemente practice platform) or, within the summertime, by hopping on the free trolley. Closest to the North Seashore shoreline is the circa 1928 Ole Hanson Seashore Membership — which, after a $6 million refurbishment, is now open for particular occasion leases. It stands as a recognizable coastal landmark of the realm.
Simply past the seaside membership is the San Clemente On line casino, which has been restored to its circa 1937 glory. Just like the Catalina On line casino constructing, it was created as a group gathering place and music corridor/dancehall. At the moment, it is as soon as once more open to the general public for ticketed musical performances (and can also be out there to hire for particular occasions). You can too benefit from the On line casino environment at its adjoining Parisian bistro, Moulin, which is open for breakfast and lunch each day from 8 a.m. to three p.m.
Lastly, head on as much as El Camino Actual on the northern gateway of San Clemente to take a peek on the progress on renovation of the previous Miramar Theater (previously San Clemente Theatre, inbuilt 1937) — which is presently being remodeled right into a multi-use facility that can embody a meals corridor. Whilst you’re soaking within the Twenties and Thirties coastal vibes, take a load off at Landers Liquor Bar, which is positioned within the historic former Aquarium Café constructing (circa 1931) that is additionally a part of the historic district.
To go farther afield, present your Pacific Surfliner ticket for a free switch on Orange County Transportation Authority buses.
7. Previous City San Diego
1/3 The Johnson Home in Previous City San Diego State Historic Park. | Sandi Hemmerlein
2/3 The Colorado Home and Courtyard Museum in Previous City San Diego State Historic Park. | Sandi Hemmerlein
3/3 Previous City Trolley Excursions provides hop on and hop off excursions in San Diego on a trolley-like bus. | Sandi Hemmerlein
San Diego has two Pacific Surfliner stops — and the northernmost one provides quick access to the entire fantastic cultural points of interest of Previous City San Diego State Historic Park, most of that are open Thursdays by way of Sundays, besides Thanksgiving, Christmas Day and New Yr’s Day. (Examine with every particular person attraction earlier than arriving to verify.) To plan your time in Previous City, seek the advice of the written self-guided tour on the State Parks web site, which recommends learn how to spend wherever from an hour to a full day there; or, decide up a self-guided tour brochure on the Robinson-Rose Customer Heart within the heart of the park.
After all, you could possibly all the time chart your personal course, popping into whichever museums, historic houses and landmarks you might come throughout — together with the Church of the Immaculate Conception, the Mason Avenue Faculty Museum, the circa 1851 former house of The San Diego Union newspaper, and rebuilt variations of the primary San Diego courthouse and the Steely Secure Barn. On the porch of the Colorado Home, State Park Interpreters give free, 15-minute Hidden Historical past Talks most Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays at 2 p.m.
Additionally ripe for exploring is La Casa de Estudillo — a big adobe townhouse relationship again to California’s Mexican and early American intervals of the Nineteenth century. Across the flip of the final century, sugar magnate and native developer John D. Spreckels remodeled the then-abandoned adobe right into a vacationer attraction primarily based on Helen Hunt Jackson’s well-known novel Ramona — “Ramona’s Marriage Place,” which was open to the general public till the Nineteen Sixties. At the moment, the Casa is the one attraction in Previous City listed by itself on the Nationwide Register of Historic Locations.
In case you’re trying to spend the night time in Previous City, attempt to get a room at The Cosmopolitan Resort and Restaurant — constructed from 1827 to 1829 as the house of cattle rancher Juan Bandini. In 1869, Albert Seely transformed it right into a stagecoach cease and lodge. It modified fingers many extra instances earlier than being bought by the State of California in 1968, the identical 12 months that Previous City turned a state park. A 2010 restoration returned it to its circa 1870s grandeur — and though its effective eating restaurant is briefly closed, there are many different (primarily Mexican) eating choices with an previous world really feel all through the Previous City space.
To go farther afield, go to the Pacific Surfliner Café automobile throughout your practice trip to buy a reduced one-day go for San Diego Metropolitan Transit System (MTS), whose trolley strains can take you to the Mexican border at San Ysidro, the Gaslamp Quarter, Petco Park for a Padres recreation, the Conference Heart, Barrio Logan and extra all through San Diego. Connection is offered to the Inexperienced and Blue Line trolleys at Previous City Transit Heart.
8. San Diego
Arrive within the coronary heart of San Diego on the Santa Fe Depot — the southernmost terminus of the Pacific Surfliner line, which brings you to a nexus of San Diego’s “New City” with handy strolling entry to Downtown San Diego, the Gaslamp Quarter, Little Italy, the harbor space and Embarcadero, Seaport Village and extra.
Head west on Ash Avenue to achieve Waterfront Park, with the circa 1938 San Diego County Administration Heart as its centerpiece. Till 2014, the realm surrounding the county constructing had been an enormous parking zone — however since that point, it has been developed right into a whimsical playground with sculptures by French-San Diegan self-trained artist Niki de Saint Phalle (presently on mortgage from the Niki Charitable Artwork Basis) and a number of other kid-friendly (and splash-worthy) water options, powered by an underground pumping station and water therapy plant.
Immediately throughout Harbor Drive from Waterfront Park is the Maritime Museum of San Diego and its assortment of historic vessels and reproductions — together with the world’s oldest energetic crusing ship, the Star of India, in addition to the circa 1898 steam ferry boat Berkeley, relocated after 60 years of service on the San Francisco Bay. Each of those are nationwide landmarks, as are the circa 1914 Pilot Boat (which helped direct 1000’s of main industrial ships getting into and leaving the San Diego Bay) and the Vietnam-era Swift Boat. On weekends, you’ll be able to take a narrated Naval Historical past Tour aboard the Swift Boat, which travels below the Coronado Bridge and previous Navy installations and shipyards each on the mainland and on Coronado Island.
1/2 Historic vessels and reproductions are docked on the Maritime Museum of San Diego, positioned straight throughout Harbor Drive from Waterfront Park. | Sandi Hemmerlein
2/2 The outside of the nationally landmarked circa 1910 U.S. Grant Resort in San Diego. | Sandi Hemmerlein
Proceed your Navy time journey by grabbing a drink or a snack — and even spending the night time — on the former Military Navy YMCA in Downtown, now open as The Guild boutique lodge. Initially inbuilt 1924 to supply recreation and dormitories to locally-stationed Armed Companies personnel trying to spend their off-duty time off-base. It has been up to date for the trendy traveler — however you’ll be able to nonetheless spot historic components like authentic tile and home windows, uncovered concrete ceiling beams, and its Romanesque-style façade. Different historic lodging choices inside quick strolling distance from the Pacific Surfliner station embody the nationally landmarked circa 1910 U.S. Grant Resort (named after Ulysses S. Grant by his son, Ulysses S. Grant Jr., who oversaw building) and the previous house of the San Diego Belief and Financial savings Financial institution, inbuilt 1928 and now the Marriott Courtyard San Diego Downtown lodge.
To go farther afield, go to the Pacific Surfliner Café automobile throughout your practice trip to buy a reduced one-day go for San Diego Metropolitan Transit System (MTS), whose trolley strains can take you to the Mexican border at San Ysidro, Previous City, UC San Diego, Barrio Logan and extra all through San Diego. Connection is offered to the Inexperienced Line trolley at Santa Fe Depot and to the Blue Line a brief stroll away at American Plaza.
For updates on COVID-19 security protocols and passenger necessities, go to the Pacific Surfliner web site.
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