Amtrak’s Scenic Route from Seattle to Los Angeles

Morro Bay in the Central Coast of California—a region served by the Coast Starlight train. © Libor Pospisil
The Coast Starlight train departs from Martinez in the morning. © Libor Pospisil
Landscapes are best enjoyed from the lounge car. © Libor Pospisil
Young John Steinbeck with his calf in Salinas, 1907.
Coast Starlight on the slope of Cuesta Pass. © Libor Pospisil
The Mission in San Luis Obispo. © Libor Pospisil
Watching the coast from lounge car. © Libor Pospisil
SpaceX Falcon 9 1.1 Launch at Vandenberg Air Force Base, (Photo by Steve Jurvetson under CC-BY-2.0). Trains pass just behind of the launch complex.
Santa Barbara station built in the town’s iconic Spanish style. © Libor Pospisil
Passing by beaches near Ventura. © Libor Pospisil
Union Station, Los Angeles. © Libor Pospisil
  • The Coast Starlight train runs three times a week between Seattle and Los Angeles, via Portland and the San Francisco Bay Area. It covers a distance of 1,377 miles (2 216 km) in 36 hours. The distance from Martinez in the Bay Area to Los Angeles is 496 miles (798 km) and the journey takes 13.5 hours.
  • The schedule of Coast Starlight, including the related bus connections, can be found here: https://www.railpassengers.org/site/assets/files/20928/coast-starlight-schedule-101220.pdf
  • You can book an Amtrak ticket through their website https://www.amtrak.com/home, or on a mobile application here: https://www.amtrak.com/mobile.
  • A conductor assigned to your car will welcome you on the platform, check your ticket ticket, and accompany you inside. Neither economy, nor business car tickets have assigned seats — you can choose a seat after boarding the train. Naturally, the business class offers comfortable seats with extra legroom for a slightly higher price.
  • En route to Los Angeles, choose a window seat on the right if you want to watch the ocean.
  • Several pandemic restrictions are in effect on the train — you have to wear a mask at all times, except when drinking or eating. You will not get another passenger seated next to you. And you can use the dining car only if you travel in the sleeper car and if you booked dinner in advance.
  • Amtrak bus connections are offered along the entire route of Coast Starlight. In Oregon, a bus departs from the Klamath Falls station to Crater Lake National Park. In California, a bus from Martinez goes to Napa wine country. San Francisco is easily reached by bus from Oakland, and Monterey by bus from Salinas. And Morro Bay is just a short ride away by a taxi or a county bus from San Luis Obispo. With all these options, the Coast Starlight journey can be turned into a full-scale exploration of the American West.

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Libor Pospisil

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