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All you need to know about a trip on the Amtrak Coast Starlight

All you need to know about a trip on the Amtrak Coast Starlight

We love train journeys and catching the Amtrak Coast Starlight along the West Coast of the United States was one trip we couldn’t wait to take. The train runs from Seattle, Washington to Los Angeles, California via Portland, Sacramento, the San Francisco Bay area and Santa Barbara.

The train passes through areas of spectacular natural beauty and provides a comfortable and luxurious alternative to flying. It runs daily and covers a distance of 1377 miles over 35 hours.

There are a total of 28 stops along the way.


ACCOMMODATION OPTIONS


When reserving your tickets with Amtrak there are a number of accommodation options to choose from ranging from reserved coach class seats to Superliner Roomettes and Bedrooms.

We chose to reserve two roomettes as we were travelling with our adult daughter. The roomettes consist of 2 seats alongside the window. At night the seats are converted into a single berth with another single berth folding down from the ceiling.

Features and amenities in the Superliner Roomette included

  • all your meals
  • a large picture window to enjoy all the beautiful views
  • electrical outlet to keep everything charged
  • reading lights
  • bottled water
  • soap and shower amenities – there is no in-cabin toilet or showers but these are available in the same train car
  • personal service to turn-down and make the bed

Along with all your meals you get access to the lounge car during the journey. Wi-Fi though not available in the roomette is accessible in the lounge car.

AMTRAK COAST STARLIGHT

THE JOURNEY

We were travelling from Seattle to San Francisco for the first leg of our journey on the Coast Starlight. We decided to stay overnight in Seattle after arriving the day before via ferry from Victoria in Canada.

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Organisation was good and as soon as the train arrived at the station we were able to board. Luggage can be stored on the lower deck so I would suggest packing smaller backpacks with your journey essentials. If you have booked a roomette there is not much room so don’t expect to take a huge case in there!

The train left Seattle’s King’s Station at 9.35 am and arrived at Emeryville in California where we were disembarking at 8:10 am the next day. It was an epic trip and we really enjoyed it. We enjoyed it so much we have vowed to go back and try some of the other amazing Amtrak train services available in the US.

As I mentioned above we had reserved 2 roomettes. We had access to the parlour car with wi-fi and as well as a cinema on the lower deck. All meals were also included and the dining car hostess came down and booked us in before each meal time. There were optional extras e.g. the cheese and wine tasting which we paid for on the train.

We found the parlour car was a great place to meet new people and we had some great conversations with other travellers on the service.

The beds were made up in the roomette for us by the hostess. Be aware that there is not much room and you have to have some agility to be able to access the top bunk. Although my husband doesn’t suffer from claustrophobia he did find himself a little confined once on the bunk.

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If you don’t like small spaces or have mobility issues I would recommend reserving one of the larger bedrooms.

We found the food to be delicious and considering it is being cooked in the confines of a moving train I think they did an excellent job!

STOPS ALONG THE WAY

There are a total of 28 stops at various train stations along the entire route including Portland and Sacramento. The train travels through 3 US states – Washington, Oregon and California. During daylight hours there is plenty time to take photographs at the various stations! You can even alight the train at some of the stops for a short stroll though don’t go too far! The train will depart on time whether you are on board or not!

BEAUTIFUL SCENERY!

We arrived at Emeryville the next morning having travelled through the states of Washington State, Oregon and into California. The views along the coast were beautiful and we loved the changing scenery along the way.

After we arrived in Emeryville we caught a connecting bus service into San Francisco.

After a few days in San Francisco we caught the Coast Starlight from San Francisco (Oakland Station) to LA. This wasn’t as great as the train was very delayed (hours) which made us very late into LA – a bit unsettling on our first visit! We were also in the seated coaches which unbelievably have no wi-fi. The views as we travelled through California were pretty spectacular though there was a severe drought at the time which you can tell in the photographs.

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If you prefer road trips to train journeys and plan to visit some of the beautiful national parks in the USA then you may be interested in this “10 day Western National Parks itinerary”

ROUTE MAP OF THE AMTRAK COAST STARLIGHT

A route map of the route of the Coast Starlight and the various train stations along the journey.

route map Coast Starlight


HOTEL BOOKING – SEATTLE


If you are looking at hotels to book in Seattle close to the station please check out this link for recommended options!

 


Please feel free to ask me any questions about the trip in the comments below. If you are looking to book the Coast Starlight you can do so through the official Amtrak website.

Have a great journey!


READ MORE 

Top railway journeys around the world part 1

Top 10 railway journeys around the world part 2

Train travel in Sri Lanka

London-Berlin-Prague: A European train journey

The Bernina Express – a scenic train journey through Switzerland

Journey to the Top of Europe

Flam railway, Norway – one of the most scenic train journeys in the world

Bangkok to Singapore on the Eastern and Oriental Express

PIN FOR LATER – CATCHING THE AMTRAK COAST STARLIGHT

The Coast Starlight

The Coast Starlight

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7 Comments

  1. July 4, 2016 / 7:34 am

    I adore long, scenic rail journeys and would love to give this train plus the Canadian and one of the luxury Indian trains a go in the not too distant future.

    • July 5, 2016 / 6:03 pm

      They are fantastic aren’t they? I am looking at South Africa or Australia for our next long train trip. I would love to cross Canada by train too!

  2. Anna Welland
    August 2, 2016 / 10:26 pm

    Looks like an amazing trip! I am planning on doing this train ride at the end of the month and was wondering if we are able to get off a certain stops and go into the city that the train is stopped at? It see,s as though you did that in San Francisco

    • August 9, 2016 / 9:02 am

      Hi we got off at San Francisco for a few days then caught another Coast Starlight train a few days later to LA. The train stops on the way from Seattle to San Francisco but not enough time to get off and go anywhere. Where are you catching the train to and from? It is a lovely journey! Enjoy

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HI THIS IS ME – TRACY

Hello from Australia

Traveller, teacher, train lover, and milkshake connoisseur.Now living and working in my 7th country and experiencing life in Queensland, Australia.

I write to inspire others whatever their age to explore the world - near and far!

I have travelled for over 30 years including solo in my 20's , as a single parent in my 30's and now in my 40's and beyond with my husband. House sitter and aspiring grey nomad a life of location independence is my goal.

Over 40 years ago I dreamt of a life well travelled and that is the life I live!

Dream it, plan it, do it!!

Tracy

“Once the travel bug bites there is no known antidote, and I know that I shall be happily infected until the end of my life”
-- Michael Palin