7 Travel Tips for Riding the Pacific Surfliner!


Hitting the road can lead to frustration with busy freeways, frequent pit-stops and crowded downtown areas. Many travelers are opting to experience a long weekend getaway without the hassles of driving by traveling by train instead.

The Amtrak Pacific Surfliner carries 3 million passengers a year to top destinations from San Diego to San Luis Obispo. Journey along the coast to beautiful beaches, diverse culinary offerings and popular tourist attractions, enjoying picturesque views, onboard amenities and conveniently located stations.

Here are some insider tips to make the most of a train trip:

  1. Beat the Crowd and Plan Ahead

Fridays and Sundays are typically the busiest travel days on the Pacific Surfliner, especially on the 700-series trains between Los Angeles and San Diego. Consider choosing one of the 500-series trains instead, which are typically less busy, or if your travel plans allow, ride midweek or midday when it’s less crowded. With an Unreserved Coach ticket, you can choose to take an earlier or later train at no charge if your plans change.

Pro Tip: If you are traveling between stations with luggage service, you can check your bags (the first two are free) instead of carrying them with you.

  1. Take Advantage of SoCal Savings

California Everyday Discounts offer year-round savings on Pacific Surfliner travel for children, students, seniors, and riders with disabilities. Save 15% or more on Pacific Surfliner trips when you book with a promotion code. Visit PacificSurfliner.com/discounts for more details.

Pro Tip: Check the website for more offers and trip ideas, including upcoming events, special service and deals: PacificSurfliner.com/promotions

  1. Upgrade to Business Class

One of the best ways to enhance your travel experience is by upgrading to Business Class. You’ll have a guaranteed seat and extra space to stretch out, plus you’ll receive a complimentary snack and drink, and bonus Amtrak Guest Rewards points. Business Class tickets provide a seat on a specific train, so if you need to change your plans, call 1-800-USA-RAIL or go online to modify your reservation in advance.

Pro Tip: The number of Business Class seats on each train is limited, so it’s best to book early before they sell out.

  1. Grab a Bite to Eat from the Café Car

Craving a delicious treat? The onboard Café car offers a variety of carry-out style foods including sandwiches, salads, pizza, snacks and beverages, locally sourced from along the Pacific Surfliner route.

Pro Tip: Riders ages 21 and up can also enjoy local craft beers, California wines, and mixed drinks, including Bloody Mary’s, mimosas and more.

  1. Don’t Miss the Ocean Views

Much of the Pacific Surfliner route hugs the coast, with views of beautiful beaches and rugged bluffs between Solana Beach and San Clemente on the south-end, and between Ventura and Surf-Lompoc on the north-end. Try to get a spot on the west-side of the train to have the best opportunities for photos, time-lapse videos and general sightseeing.

Pro Tip: The train switches directions after stopping in Los Angeles. If you are facing forward on the left side when you arrive at this station, you will find yourself traveling backwards on the right side once the train continues its journey! Keep this in mind if you are traveling through Los Angeles and are trying to get an ocean seat.

  1. Stay Connected

Follow Pacific Surfliner (@PacSurfliners) on Twitter to stay up to date on the latest train updates before and during your trip. Browse social media and your favorite websites thanks to free Wi-Fi, and keep your devices charged by plugging into the power outlets – there is one located at every window seat.

Pro Tip: While the trains feature free basic Wi-Fi for general web browsing activities, the Wi-Fi does not support high-bandwidth actions such as streaming music or video. Instead, download your favorite Netflix show before-hand and binge watch on the train without Wi-Fi!

  1. Do and See More

Did you know it’s possible to bring a bike, surfboard or golf clubs with you on your Pacific Surfliner trip? It just takes a little bit of planning. To learn more about making a free bike reservation, visit our blog. To learn about other items, including music instruments, baby items and more, visit amtrak.com/special-items.

Pro Tip: Many stations are central to great restaurants, shops and attractions. And you can also use your train ticket to connect to bus and transit services at most stations for free or at a discount. This makes it possible to go more places without needing a car.

With daily service to San Diego, Orange County, Los Angeles, Ventura, Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo, the Pacific Surfliner is a great way to experience the best of Southern California. Plan ahead and keep these tips in mind to make the most of your trip. For trip ideas, see our Guide to Labor Day Getaways by Train. For train schedules, special offers and more, visit www.pacificsurfliner.com.

#PacificSurfliner

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