San Diego Coaster

The San Diego Coaster is a commuter train that connects to some of San Diego County’s most popular destinations, from Oceanside to Downtown San Diego.
San Diego Coaster
Explore North County
Where You Can Go
See More & Save
What to Expect
Best Time to Ride
Cost per Ride
Know Before you Ride
Stay Nearby

Highlights

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

Explore North County with the San Diego Coaster

The San Diego metro area is too large to travel from end to end by foot, and many of its most popular beaches and other attractions are several miles up the coast from Downtown San Diego. The San Diego Coaster offers a convenient and affordable way to get to these North County destinations without a car.

The San Diego Coaster was designed as a commuter rail, but it’s also a great way for visitors to get to destinations like Oceanside, Carlsbad, and Encinitas from downtown and Old Town San Diego. The train runs north of downtown through the hills of San Diego and eventually along the area’s stunning coastline. This makes for a very relaxing ride through some of the most beautiful scenery that San Diego has to offer.

Coaster has been in service since 1995. They run approximately 20 trains on weekdays, as well as less frequent weekend service. Trains have two levels with comfortable, accessible seating.

The Coaster is run by the North County Transit District, and offers connections to services by many other transit agencies. Within San Diego proper, riders can connect to the Trolley as well as to San Diego public buses that are run by MTS. The Trolley offers service to the Mexican border as well as Mission Valley, La Mesa, National City, La Jolla and other San Diego suburbs.

Local Tips
Check Holiday Schedule
If you are traveling during special holidays and events, the Coaster and its connections may not be available to ride. On Christmas Day, New Years Eve, Thanksgiving Day, Labor Day and Memorial Day the Coaster, Breeze and Sprinter reduce the number of rounds they do and operate for limited hours.

The NCTD also runs their own bus lines as well as a light rail line that connects Escondido and Oceanside. This light rail line is called the Sprinter, and you can connect to it at the Oceanside station.

Additionally, you can connect to Los Angeles County’s Metrolink service in Oceanside. The Metrolink is a commuter train similar to the Coaster, and runs through Orange County to Downtown Los Angeles. There are also connections in the Metrolink system to the Inland Empire.

Amtrak runs their Pacific Surfliner train along the same tracks as the Coaster. The Pacific Surfliner connects to key destinations in Orange County, Los Angeles, Santa Barbara, and the central California coast.

Popular Hotels
Popular Hotels
Price
Solamar San Diego
$144
Check Price
Residence Inn San Diego Downtown
$199
Check Price
Hotel Indigo San Diego Gaslamp Quarter
$134
Check Price
Residence Inn by Marriott San Diego Gaslamp
$214
Check Price

Where You Can Go on The San Diego Coaster

The San Diego Coaster offers connections to many popular destinations in the San Diego area. Its southern terminus is Santa Fe Depot in Downtown San Diego, which is walking distance from the Convention Center, Gaslamp District, and other key San Diego destinations. From there, it moves north to Old Town San Diego, which is another important cultural center and tourist destination.

The next stop is Sorrento Valley, which is just north of La Jolla and the University of California, San Diego. It is also near Torrey Pines, which is a popular hiking destination. You can connect to any of these destinations from the Sorrento Valley stop using local buses.

Moving north, the Coaster stops in Solana Beach. This stop is very close to the shoreline and is also near the Del Mar Fairgrounds, the location of the Del Mar Thoroughbred Club. The next stop is Encinitas, a charming beach town known for its laid-back atmosphere. Encinitas is also home to the San Diego Botanic Garden.

There are two stops in Carlsbad - Carlsbad Poinsettia and Carlsbad Village. Carlsbad Poinsettia is the closest stop to LEGOLAND California and the Flower Fields at Carlsbad Ranch. The Carlsbad Village stop is in downtown Carlsbad, with access to some of the area’s most popular breweries and cafes.

The Coaster’s northern terminus is Oceanside. Oceanside is one of the largest beach towns in the North County Coastal area and is known for its beautiful pier and good surf.

If you’re staying in North County, the Coaster is an efficient way to get to Downtown San Diego. It’s also a reliable way to get from Downtown San Diego to all of the beautiful destinations that North County has to offer.

It’s important to note that the Coaster is not the same thing as the Trolley or the Amtrak Pacific Surfliner. Although all three of these trains share stations, they have their own individual routes and require their own fares.

Another important consideration is the fact that not every stop on the Coaster route is in a walkable area. In many cases, you’ll need to rely on a public bus or rideshare service to get to nearby attractions.

(H4) Save on the Attractions just off the Coaster Stops!

With so many attractions located in the neighborhoods the Coaster serves, consider picking up a Go San Diego Pass in advance of your trip and saving on admission to many of the most popular attractions in San Diego like LEGOLAND California in Carlsbad or the Whaley House Museum in Old Town.

Both can be had for you and your family at a steep discount and additional savings can be added on top when you use our discount link to maximize your savings!

BIG savings with Go Pass!
Air and Space Museum
Visit the Air and Space Museum
Launch into flight at the Air and Space Museum with your All-Inclusive Go Pass! You'll learn about the history of flight to the present day. The museum is full of interactive exhibits and aircraft to explore, plus a 4D cinema experience!
Buy Now
Local Tips
What attractions are included with a Go Pass?

Attractions that you can visit with a Go San Diego Pass include:

The San Diego Zoo, Birch Aquarium, SeaWorld, Safari Park, LEGOLAND, Harbor Cruise, USS Midway Museum, the NAT Museum, Whaley House, PETCO Park Tour, iFLY San Diego and many, many more!

What to Expect While Riding the Coaster

Riding the Coaster is a very pleasant experience. Before you board the Coaster, you’ll need to purchase your ticket. There are a few different ways to purchase your tickets.

You can purchase individual fares at the automated vending machines at each station as well as at NCTD’s customer service stations. If you have a Compass Card, which is the fare card for all transit agencies throughout San Diego, you can pay using any stored value you have. Keep in mind that the fare for the Coaster is more expensive than the fare for the Trolley or buses.

You can also purchase passes using the Compass Cloud app, which is available for Apple and Android devices. This is an easy and sustainable way to purchase passes on your mobile device. With the Compass Cloud app, you can purchase passes in advance and activate them when you ride the Coaster.

You won’t need to go through a fare gate to get on the Coaster, but you will need to tap your pass on the fare box to validate. You should always have your pass with you when you board the train. Conductors may come through and check your fare, and if you don’t have a validated pass with you, you could be subject to fines.

Before getting on the train, be sure to check the signs on the platform to make sure you are going in the right direction. There are signs on all platforms to indicate whether you are going north or south, as well as when the next train is coming.

Once you board the Coaster train, you can choose any seat. The seats are very comfortable and the atmosphere is very safe. The trains have two stories, so you can choose to sit upstairs for a better view of the beautiful San Diego scenery.

While riding the train, listen closely to see when your stop is coming. You may want to start standing up and making your way downstairs a few minutes before your stop to ensure that you don’t miss it. Since these trains are larger, it can take more time to exit.

Best Time to Ride the Coaster

Since Coaster trains do not run at all hours, you’ll need to check the schedule before riding.

Coaster trains start running at approximately 5 AM and run until approximately 7 PM. During morning rush hour, trains come approximately every 30 minutes. However, they come less often during the middle of the day or on holidays.

If you need Coaster service later in the evening or in the middle of the day when Coaster isn’t running, you can take the Amtrak Pacific Surfliner as an alternative, which runs on the same tracks. If you have a Coaster Regional Day pass or a Coaster Monthly Pass, you can use these fares on Amtrak, otherwise you will need to buy a one-way fare directly through Amtrak. Keep in mind that the Pacific Surfliner does not stop at all Coaster stations.

The Coaster doesn’t typically get very crowded, so you’ll almost always be able to find a comfortable seat. The best time to ride the Coaster is in the morning on weekdays, when trains run the most often.

In most cases, it takes about an hour to get from Oceanside to Downtown San Diego on the Coaster, or vice versa. Be sure to plan accordingly when scheduling your day out in San Diego.

Featured Hotel
Solamar San Diego
Rooftop pool, Solamar San Diego
Balboa Park
Balboa Park
Conventions
Conventions
Couples
Couples
4 Stars4 Stars4 Stars4 Stars
Exceptional beauty and service are what draw guests to Solamar San Diego. This boutique hotel has sumptuous amenities & a fabulous location in the heart of the city.
Prices Starting at $144
Check Availability

How Much Does It Cost to Ride the Coaster?

The Coaster is a very affordable way to travel from the North County Coastal area to Downtown San Diego and vice versa. The Coaster has a sliding fee scale that charges you based on the number of ‘zones’ you go through on your trip. Downtown and Old Town San Diego are zone 1, Sorrento Valley is zone 2, and Solana Beach, Encinitas, Carlsbad, and Oceanside are zone 3.

A one-way fare for a one-zone trip is $5 for adults and $2.50 for youth, disabled, and senior travelers. Two zones cost $5.75 and $2.75, while three zones cost $6.50 and $3.25.

If you’re going to be using the Coaster multiple times in 24 hours, you may want to consider purchasing a Coaster regional day pass, which costs $15 for adults and $7.50 for youth, senior, and disabled riders. This will cover rides in all zones for the full day.

Coaster also offers monthly passes for those who are going to be in town for longer periods of time. Monthly passes are priced using the zone structure. Adults will pay $140 for one zone, $161 for two zones, and $182 for three zones. Youth, senior, and disabled riders will pay $58 for all monthly passes.

As always, prices are subject to change so make sure to check directly with the Coaster before your arrival for any updates to pricing.

Popular Activities

PETCO Park Tour
PETCO Park Tour
$22 per person
Buy Now
The San Diego History Center
The San Diego History Center
Discounts Available
Learn More

What to Know Before Riding the Coaster

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

Parking at Coaster Stations

There is parking available at all Coaster stations. Parking is free at all stations except Santa Fe Depot in Downtown San Diego, where you’ll need to pay for metered parking.

All stations except for downtown and Old Town also allow two-week parking.

Electric Vehicle Charging Stations

For those with a Tesla or other electric car, the Oceanside transit center has electric vehicle charging stations for your convenience. As electric cars become more popular charging stations are popping up quickly.

Biking to the Coaster

Most Coaster stations have a place where you can park your bike, whether that’s in a secure bike locker or on a bike rack. You can also take your bike on the Coaster - make sure to place it in the designated bike areas.

Looking to Save on Tickets?
Save on Tickets
Explore all that San Diego has to offer & save up to 55% on attractions
This Month's Forecast
Jul
66℉ / 81℉
Sunny in July
Aug
68℉ / 83℉
Sunny in August
Sep
66℉ / 82℉
Sunny in September

Stay Nearby

Solamar San Diego
Convention Center
4 Star Rating4 Star Rating4 Star Rating4 Star Rating
Solamar San Diego
from $144 / night
View Hotel
Residence Inn San Diego Downtown
Family Friendly
3 Star Rating3 Star Rating3 Star Rating
Residence Inn San Diego Downtown
from $199 / night
View Hotel
Hotel Indigo San Diego Gaslamp Quarter
Boutique Hotel
4 Star Rating4 Star Rating4 Star Rating4 Star Rating
Hotel Indigo San Diego Gaslamp Quarter
from $134 / night
View Hotel
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
View Hotel
Show more San Diego Hotels >>
Tours & Adventures
PETCO Park Tour
PETCO Park Tour
$22 per person
Buy Now
The San Diego History Center
The San Diego History Center
Discounts Available
Learn More
Looking for Something Different?
More Public Transportation in San Diego