Rediscovering Old Ways To Travel
Travel doesn’t have to be overwhelming. If you’re a beginner looking for a stress-free adventure, then sit back, relax, and get on a train…the Amtrak train!
Maybe you’re new to travel and haven’t really left your bubble yet. You’ve made every excuse as to why you shouldn’t take a trip. But statements like “it’s too expensive” or “I don’t have enough time,” just don’t cut it anymore. Even a simple day trip can be full of adventure. Now, you could drive for hours to visit a new place but my unique twist would be to jump on a train and head to a nearby city. This is a relatively affordable way to travel and I’m sure we can all squeeze in one day to check-out of our daily routine and have a little fun. So no more excuses!
Because I live in Los Angeles, there are plenty of places to visit that are just a few hours away: San Diego, Santa Barbara, San Francisco, Las Vegas, Palm Springs, just to name a few. And while I have no problem taking short trips (under 3 hours) to neighboring cities, I don’t love driving. I kept hearing from friends and co-workers that taking a train ride from L.A. to Santa Barbara or San Diego was such a pleasant experience. The coastal views on the way to either destination is what really makes this mode of transportation worth it.
So, for my friend’s birthday this year we did just that. I had the opportunity to plan a lovely day trip to Santa Barbara and take my first Amtrak train ride. Of all people, my friend would have been justified in her reasons for not taking a trip. As a new mom, she really didn’t have extra time for herself but she values the adventure just as much as I do. She’s been my go-to adventure buddy for years! While she didn’t want to be away from her little one for too long, the idea of a day trip via the train was perfect and relaxing for her.
I booked our Amtrak tickets and we were off. For just $50 each, we were in a new city in under 3 hours. I can’t believe I had never tried this before, it was so easy! We picked up the train at a convenient location and we were dropped off right by the beach, in the middle of all the shops and restaurants on State Street. No need for a car as everything was within walking distance.
If you’re not convinced yet, below is a sample itinerary of fun things we did and recommendations from others that will hopefully get you out the door. While I planned out enough details to keep us busy, we played it by ear and intended to do as much or as little as we wanted, depending on how we felt. I highly recommend leaving room for flexibility; things change all the time and you never quite know how much energy you’ll have.
So when the weekend rolls around and you’re looking for something fun to do, find out which Amtrak station you’re closest to by visiting www.amtrak.com and hop onboard! You won’t regret it.
~ Sample Santa Barbara Itinerary ~
8:00am – 10:30am: Train Ride on the Pacific Surfliner
- Depart from Burbank; 3750 Empire Avenue, Burbank, CA 91505
- Arrive in Santa Barbara; 209 State Street, Santa Barbara, CA 93101
- The Shop Kitchen: 730 N Milpas St, Santa Barbara, CA
- If you have extra time, try a Food Tour: $70-75/person (3.5 hours)
- The Santa Barbara Tasting Tour starts at 11:00am and begins near the intersection of State Street and Figueroa Street in downtown Santa Barbara.
12:30 pm: Explore Downtown Santa Barbara
- Santa Barbara Museum of Art; 1130 State Street, Santa Barbara, CA
- Paseo Nuevo Shops; 651 Paseo Nuevo, Santa Barbara, CA
- Stearns Wharf; 237 Stearns Wharf, Santa Barbara, CA
- Jump on yacht and enjoy a 1 hour Coastal Cruise; $20 per person
3:30pm: Santa Barbara Harbor and Biking
Enjoy the ocean-side by coasting down Cabrillo Blvd. on a bike or take a self guided tour!
- Wheels Fun Rentals; 23 East Cabrillo Blvd., Santa Barbara, CA
- Santa Barbara Adventure Company; 32 E Haley St., Santa Barbara, CA
5:00pm: Early Dinner
- Via Maestra 42: Italian restaurant that comes highly recommended by friends
7:00pm – 9:15pm : Train Ride Back Home on the Pacific Surfliner
- Depart from Santa Barbara; 209 State Street, Santa Barbara, CA 93101
- Note: This is the last train out of Santa Barbara.
- Arrive in Burbank; 3750 Empire Avenue, Burbank, CA 91505
BONUS: If you have more time in Santa Barbara, I suggest taking a horseback riding tour to add to the fun (unless you have bad knees this may not be fun for you). Circle Bar B Guest Ranch & Stables has great reviews and the price is reasonable, starting at $65 per person.
I will definitely keep going back to SB, it’s such a beautiful place.