San Diego Amtrak Train

The Amtrak Pacific Surfliner is a great way to get from San Diego to other beautiful Southern California destinations such as Los Angeles and Santa Barbara.
San Diego Amtrak Train
Getting Around SoCal
Where To Go
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What to Expect
Best Time to Ride
Cost of Surfliner
Know Before Riding
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Highlights

Where You Can Go
Best Time to Use
Cost
Tips
Where You Can Go
Best Time to Use
Cost
Tips

Getting Around SoCal With Amtrak’s Pacific Surfliner

Train Sitting at the Santa Fe Depot in San DiegoTrain Tracks at the Santa Fe Train Depot

San Diego is one of many amazing coastal cities in Southern California. One of the easiest and most beautiful ways to get from San Diego to cities like Anaheim, Los Angeles, Santa Barbara, and San Luis Obispo is to take the Pacific Surfliner train. This Amtrak route is a comfortable and efficient way to get around and avoid Southern California’s notoriously frustrating traffic.

Trains have been running from San Diego to Los Angeles since the 1930s, and Amtrak began running the Pacific Surfliner in the early 1970s. Initially, the train only ran between San Diego and Los Angeles, but was later extended north to Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo.

The Pacific Surfliner offers a comfortable and safe way to travel, and many parts of the route have beautiful coastal scenery. While onboard, you’ll find amenities like WiFi as well as food and drinks for purchase.

The Pacific Surfliner is different from the San Diego Trolley and Coaster, however, it does connect to these trains at several points along the route. Riders will be able to connect to the entire San Diego transit system at Santa Fe Depot in Downtown San Diego.

Over the past few decades, there has been a movement to expand public transportation in San Diego as well as throughout Southern California, and the Pacific Surfliner is a key part of this movement. Riding the Pacific Surfliner is a great way to save gas.

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Residence Inn by Marriott San Diego Gaslamp
$214
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Horton Grand Hotel
$143
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$188
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Homewood Suites by Hilton San Diego Downtown
$152
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Where You Can Go on The Pacific Surfliner

The Pacific Surfliner runs a comprehensive route through some of Southern California’s most popular destinations, making it easy to explore. From its start point in Downtown San Diego, the Amtrak can take you about 350 miles up the coast.

Amtrak operates two San Diego stops in downtown and Old Town. At these stops, you can connect to local San Diego transit services, and you can also walk to some of the city’s most popular attractions.

The Pacific Surfliner then runs through the North County area, with stops in popular beach towns like Solana Beach and Oceanside. The Solana Beach stop is very close to the Del Mar Thoroughbred Club, a very popular way to spend an afternoon watching the horse races with friends and family.

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Travelers in Business Class receive a guaranteed seat as well as a complimentary snack and drink, service from a dedicated attendant, priority boarding in Los Angeles and San Diego, and bonus Amtrak Guest Rewards points.

From there, the train moves into Orange County, first stopping in the coastal towns of San Clemente and San Juan Capistrano. The train then stops in four key Orange County towns - Irvine, Santa Ana, Anaheim, and Fullerton. The Anaheim station is a short drive from Disneyland as well as the Anaheim Angels stadium.

Next, the Pacific Surfliner stops in downtown Los Angeles. This stop offers connections to the entire Los Angeles transit system, including Metro subway trains and Metrolink commuter trains. From here, you can reach popular tourist destinations like Hollywood, Santa Monica, Long Beach, and more. The train also stops in northern LA suburbs like Glendale, Burbank, and Van Nuys.

The train then moves out towards the coast again, stopping in the charming beach towns of Ventura, Santa Barbara, and Goleta. Many of the Pacific Surfliner trains stop here, but some continue on up California’s Central Coast. These trains stop in quaint beach towns like Lompoc and Grover Beach before reaching San Luis Obispo, which is the route’s northern terminus.

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What is a Go San Diego Pass?

The Go San Diego Pass allows visitors to experience more attractions while simultaneously saving money.

With the pass, you can visit San Diego’s top attractions like the San Diego Zoo or LEGOLAND, all while saving up to 55% off on admissions. Plus, the pass gives you the ability to skip the line when visiting select attractions.

What to Expect While Riding the Pacific Surfliner

Riding the Pacific Surfliner is a very safe and comfortable experience. Each train has two levels with beautiful views of the coast. All seats recline, and many also have tables for those who would like to work or eat while onboard. At your seat, you’ll also find outlets and free WiFi access so you can stay connected.

Each car has a bathroom, as well as plenty of storage space for your luggage and bikes. Each train also has a cafe car where you can pick up refreshments, including coffee, sodas, wine, beer, and cocktails, as well as snacks and small meals.

If you opt for Business Class, you’ll get even more perks, including roomier seats, premium snacks, and a dedicated attendant. You’ll also get to guarantee your seat ahead of time.

You’ll need to purchase your Amtrak ticket before you get on the train. One of the easiest ways to do this is through the Amtrak app, where you can get a mobile pass. You can also order your ticket online and print it out ahead of time. Select stations do have kiosks where you can purchase a ticket in person, but this isn’t the most efficient option.

Once you get on the train, the conductor will pass through the car and check your tickets. You’ll need to have your ticket out and ready to scan. Then, you can relax and enjoy the trip. Be sure to listen for your stop, and start making your way downstairs a few minutes ahead of time.

Best Time to Ride the Pacific Surfliner

Amtrak offers 13 daily round-trip routes on the Pacific Surfliner. Many of these trains only offer service between Los Angeles and San Diego, but five of them run up to Santa Barbara, and two continue further to San Luis Obispo.

The Pacific Surfliner runs from approximately 6 AM until midnight. Trains run approximately every hour, but schedules fluctuate, so be sure to check the schedule carefully when booking your ticket.

The train is most crowded during morning and evening rush hour, when the bulk of commuters are on board. It can also get very crowded on holiday weekends or during popular events like Comic-Con. On rare occasions, the train may be standing room only. To ensure you get a seat on these busy trips, get to the station early for boarding.

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Horton Grand Hotel
Exterior view at night, Horton Grand Hotel
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How Much Does It Cost to Ride the Pacific Surfliner?

The cost of riding the Pacific Surfliner can vary. Pricing depends on your destination as well as the day and time of your trip. Amtrak does offer discounts for seniors, students, military members, and kids.

Generally, a trip between Downtown San Diego and downtown Los Angeles will cost about $35. San Diego to Santa Barbara costs about $45, while San Diego to San Luis Obispo costs about $60.

Regular Amtrak travelers can also purchase multi-ride tickets to save money. You can purchase six or 10 pass bundles, or you can purchase a monthly pass.

Popular Activities

The World Famous San Diego Zoo
The World Famous San Diego Zoo
Discounts Available
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The San Diego Maritime Museum
The San Diego Maritime Museum
Discounts Available
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What You Should Know Before Riding the Pacific Surfliner

Disabled Accessibility
Disabled Accessibility
No Alcohol
No Alcohol
No Smoking
No Smoking
Public Transportation
Public Transportation
Stroller Accessible
Stroller Accessible
Trash Cans Available
Trash Cans Available

Amtrak Connections

Many Pacific Surfliner stations connect to other transit options. In San Diego, you can connect to MTS Trolley and public buses, NCTD buses, as well as the Coaster and the Sprinter train.

At many destinations along the route, you can also take Amtrak Thruway buses to many popular destinations. These buses can take you to major airports as well as universities and commercial districts.

In Los Angeles, you can connect to other Amtrak routes that will take you across the country. These routes connect to places like Seattle, Chicago, Phoenix, Kansas City, Dallas, and more.

Luggage on Amtrak

Each Pacific Surfliner car has large luggage racks. There’s also storage available below your seat or on overhead racks. Some stations will also allow you to check larger bags for your trip.

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Stay Nearby

Residence Inn by Marriott San Diego Gaslamp
Near Petco Park
3 Star Rating3 Star Rating3 Star Rating
Residence Inn by Marriott San Diego Gaslamp
from $214 / night
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Horton Grand Hotel
Boutique Hotel
3 Star Rating3 Star Rating3 Star Rating
Horton Grand Hotel
from $143 / night
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La Quinta by Wyndham SeaWorld / Zoo
Near San Diego Zoo
3 Star Rating3 Star Rating3 Star Rating
La Quinta by Wyndham SeaWorld / Zoo
from $188 / night
View Hotel
Homewood Suites by Hilton San Diego Downtown
Near Cruise Port
3 Star Rating3 Star Rating3 Star Rating
Homewood Suites by Hilton San Diego Downtown
from $152 / night
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Tours & Adventures
The World Famous San Diego Zoo
The World Famous San Diego Zoo
Discounts Available
Learn More
The San Diego Maritime Museum
The San Diego Maritime Museum
Discounts Available
Learn More
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