Thursday, February 19, 2015

Amtrak California Day Trip: San Luis Obispo to Santa Barbara Round-Trip

A one day round-trip. Simple, good times. Fun, in one...

A Casual Day Trip by Train
It's approximately 2-1/2 to 3 hours riding on the train down to Santa Barbara. Then there's seven to eight hours to explore Santa Barbara's downtown and waterfront areas. To end the day trip, it's approximately 2-1/2 to 3 hours again riding on the train back up to San Luis Obispo. This round-trip is fun and can be done in one day.


The Train Schedule
Check the website Amtrak California and source links shown below for published times, fares, and policies. To-the-minute accuracy of schedules may not always be relied upon, if timing is personally important during a casual day trip. One important note to mention: don't miss the train.

6:30AM -- San Luis Obispo Amtrak Station.
Get to station in time to assure boarding before the southbound train departs in the morning. Long term parking is available.

6:55AM -- Train departs from San Luis Obispo.
Source: Pacific Surfliner-Southbound, Train #774 (Daily)

9:24AM  -- Train arrives at Santa Barbara Amtrak Station.

5:15PM -- Santa Barbara Amtrak Station.
Return back to station in time to assure boarding before the northbound train departs in the evening.

5:43PM -- Train departs from Santa Barbara.
Source: Pacific Surfliner-Northbound, Train #777 (Daily)

8:30PM -- Train arrives at San Luis Obispo Amtrak Station.

Long Term Parking at San Luis Obispo Station (Lot B)
Several days before the trip, it is possible to visit the station to purchased tickets in-person and also be issued a free longterm parking pass. On the date of the day trip, this may somewhat simplify parking a personal vehicle and boarding the southbound train on that morning.

The Meals
There is a "Cafe" on the train attended by one crew member. It has a basic selection and there are a few tables. We wanted to have two meals (one each way) on the train and brought a "food bag" to our seats. We had planned and packed familiar breakfast items (coffee and milk were purchased from the Cafe) plus a few bagged snacks for use later in the day while walking around Santa Barbara. We had lunch in the waterfront area at a very pleasant restaurant (discovered while walking around) with beachside tables on a covered deck. From that restaurant, we bought "to go" boxed meals for our dinner on the train while traveling back up to San Luis Obispo. In this way, the train's coach seats, tray tables, and on-board waste bins accommodated two of our day's meals.

The Scenery and Views
It would be hard to imagine finding a better seat on the train than ANY seat on the right-hand side of the southbound train. Ocean, cliffs, and beaches -- for approximately 70 percent of the train ride. Some of the train's route follows the California coastline through the isolated Vandenberg Air Force Base and other areas that are not seen from major freeways. You may wish that the train windows would open for unfiltered access to take photos.



MTD Santa Barbara: Downtown & Waterfront Electric Shuttles
Two electric shuttle routes are immediately available near to the Amtrak Station in Santa Barbara; the Downtown Shuttle and the Waterfront Shuttle. Adult fare is $0.50 per one-way ride with a one-time free transfer available between these two routes. There are shuttle stops along the nearly continuous pedestrian walkways on both routes. Both the pedestrian walkways and shuttle stops are designed as functional elements of the street architecture. The open-air electric shuttles run on schedules and will pull over for passenger loading and unloading at the designated stops.


The Day: it's all about you.
Our day was Valentine's Day 2015. We found Santa Barbara's downtown and waterfront to be easily walkable, beautiful, and diversely interesting. Sun protection, layered clothing, and a small backpack is advised. There are enough attractions and activities to discover that one may wish for a bit more time. However, the seven or eight hours between Amtrak trains on one pleasant day -- spent exploring on foot and occasionally riding open-air shuttles -- seemed just about right... on our day.



GIVE ME A MOMENT a lifestyle
Subscribe FREE (see: upper right column) for new posts. Reader-referred topics are welcomed and considered. Comments here are disabled. Readers may contact the blogger by email:

Post No. 233