- The Coast Starlight is a scenic train ride from Los Angeles to Seattle, offering stunning views of the Pacific Coast Highway along the way.
- Planning is required for a comfortable journey on the 35-hour trip, but the pros of the scenic adventure outweigh the cons.
- The train departs from both Seattle and Los Angeles, but it is recommended to go northbound for more daytime scenery. Many stops along the route offer phenomenal adventures and should be considered for overnight stays.
The beloved and memorable Pacific Coast Highway is one of the most iconic and scenic drives in the United States. The route starts in Los Angeles, California, weaving along the coast with sweeping views of the Pacific Ocean, through the mystical Cascade Mountains, and continuing into the pine-blanketed state of Washington, with Seattle as the final destination.
While the PCH cruise is one of the essential things to do while visiting California (at least part of it), there is a way visitors can leave their cars in Los Angeles and have the chance to sit back and relax while soaking in the stunning views aboard one of the most scenic train rides in the United States, known as the Coast Starlight. Here’s what to know about booking (and enjoying) a trip on the Coast Starlight from Los Angeles to Seattle.
Is The Coast Starlight Worth The Trip?
Beach on the Pacific Coast Highway, Los Angeles, California
The Coast Starlight is Amtrak’s train service between Los Angeles and Seattle and is a trip that will require some planning to ensure a comfortable journey. The Coast Starlight is for those with some time on their hands, looking for that next, new adventure.
The ride takes around 35 hours from Los Angeles to Seattle with many memorable stops in between. Seattle makes a great ending point, being one of the best cities to explore without a car; once travelers arrive, they will have the Emerald City at their fingertips.
There are many things to take into consideration while booking a Coast Starlight trip to ensure a pleasant and comfortable journey. However, no matter what happens along the way, cruising up the Pacific Coast Highway up to Washington will provide one of the most scenic and epic train adventures of a lifetime and the pros will outweigh any cons that may arise.
The Coast Starlight departs from both Seattle and Los Angeles. However, northbound is the way to go, with more scenery during the day.
Explore The Coast Starlight Route (& Stops Along The Way)
View on Santa Barbara from the pier
The journey begins in Los Angeles, which has some unmissable attractions worth spending a few days in the city to experience.
From Los Angeles, the train meanders through Simi Valley, coming out to the coast of the Pacific where passengers will have stunning views of the ocean from the glass-domed observation car, slithering along the rocky, palm tree-strewn cliffs of southern California.
Most bookings require multiple segments, where travelers have to disembark from one train and get on another. Be sure to read the details of your trip before booking — or look for a nonstop trip if desired.
What makes this adventure even more worthwhile is all the stops along the way. It is highly recommended to plan a trip with some overnight stops to make the best of the journey. Some of the most popular stops include:
- San Luis Obispo, CA
- Santa Barbara, CA
- San Jose, CA
- Oakland, CA
- Sacramento, CA
- Salem, Ca
- Portland, OR
- Tacoma, WA
It’s worth looking over all the stops the Coast Starlight makes and doing some research on some places that may be worthy of an overnight visit.
These destinations offer travelers some truly phenomenal adventures, including stunning beaches, epic hikes, wineries, and exploring some of the West Coast’s best towns and cities, including indulging in some great food and wine tours in Santa Barbara and exploring the city of San Francisco.
It’s important to note that when planning on getting off the train for a night, passengers will need to book each leg of the trip separately, which can be done hassle-free via Amtrak’s website.
Amenities & Options On The Coast Starlight
View of passengers on Pacific Coast Starlight route at sunset
The journey on Amtrak’s Superliner Coast Starlight offers different levels of comfort, amenities, and accommodation, which depend on the ticket purchased. Standard coach tickets will give guests access to the dining car, the small café, and the glass-domed observation car.
When booking a roomette or bedroom, passengers will be graced with complimentary dining, exclusive lounge access, along with private restrooms and showers.
With limited food options in the dining car, it’s worth making a trip to the grocery store to load up on preferred snacks and beverages for the trip!
Coast Starlight Train Costs
Amtrak’s Coast Starlight crossing the North Fork of the Willamette River at Westfir, OR.
There are three different tiers of tickets, each offering different needs and desires of passengers. It’s important to be aware that costs will also vary depending on how far in advance tickets are booked, time of year, etc.
The Coast Starlight does offer sleeper cars; private rooms start at around $400, depending on the time you travel from Los Angeles to Seattle. Business class seats do not appear to be available for the long-haul trip, though other accommodations are available for shorter trips along the Coast Starlight’s route.
When booking a standard coach seat for the full journey, it’s important to remember that this will be your bed and accommodation for the next 35 hours! If you’re feeling adventurous, it’s only one night of compromised sleep and the scenic ride is worth it.
How To Book Tickets For The Coast Starlight
Booking tickets for the Coast Starlight is as easy as visiting Amtrak’s website. Travelers can view the full itinerary of the trip, choose the departure and arrival, the date of departure, and select the appropriate seating and accommodation options for their journey.
Best Time of Year (& Best Side Of Train to Be On)
Sunset, Mount Hood, Portland, Oregon
The best time of year to take the Coast Starlight is highly worth pondering, considering the vast amount of terrain being covered. Southern California and the Pacific Northwest vary greatly when it comes to weather, so leaving in the sunny, warm, middle of winter from Los Angeles isn’t going to mean the same is happening in Seattle.
Summer is going to be the busiest time of year when temperatures are all around warm and sunny and families are on their vacations. So, it’s worth keeping this in mind when planning a trip if avoiding summer crowds is important.
The fall and spring are going to bring cooler temperatures and smaller crowds while presenting the opportunity to see some fall colors and spring blooms, which will make the adventure that much more scenic and beautiful.
Winter will still be beautiful, with snow-capped mountains, bringing cooler and rainier weather, especially coming into the Pacific Northwest, which would make for a cozy train ride.
While booking any train, it’s always worth considering which side of the train to book a seat or room on. When it comes to the Coast Starlight, it is highly suggested to book on the left side, where the sweeping Pacific Coast views and sunset will be.
Passengers can always wander to the dining car, lounge, or glass dome observation car to change sides if needed, but for the long haul, the left side is the way to go.
The Coast Starlight will allow travelers to experience the beautiful West Coast in a whole new way. While road trips are one of the best ways to see the country and have great adventures, sometimes it can be nice to be able to just sit back and soak up the endless views.
It’s time to add a train trip from Los Angeles to Seattle to the bucket list because this is a trip that will never be forgotten.