Your Amtrak Guide Through SoCal, from Los Angeles to San Diego

Riding through the beach as you watch people fade, you find yourself immersed in the stillness of the blazing sunset hanging over the ocean. Frame after frame you stare at the waves, here now and then no longer, or secretly greet the surfers pausing to wave at you. No other means of transportation gifts you with such peace and time than a quiet train ride in SoCal (note the emphasis on quiet). I mean, nothing also tries you more than being stuck and standing next to an invisible nightscape in a train full of belligerent frat boys for over two hours, but the idea of a solitary train ride definitely feels romantic and calming. And for the most part, it is–if you pick a good time and day to take a trip.

Amtrak has awesome options for accommodating passengers spending their nights on board, but if you’re in Southern California and you’re visiting LA, taking a day ride to San Diego and back will make the trip worth it in itself! With that said, here are landmarks you might hope to see at every stop along your way down*:

*I do understand that it is impossible to hop off the train at every town it stops at and then hopping back on to move on, so you can think of these landmarks as places and eateries worth visiting in general SoCal 🙂

 

Depart from: Union Station – Los Angeles

One of my favorite spaces.

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Wavy.

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The Gateway to my adventures in L.A.; the antechamber to memories.

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Take the Pacific Surfliner Southbound and it will take you along the coastline. A general ticket from LA to Solana Beach, located a tad north of La Jolla, San Diego, is $30 and travel time ranges from 2 hours and 10 minutes to 2 hours and 30 minutes depending on schedule. You can also take this same train Northbound up to San Luis Obispo, past Santa Barbara if you want to travel the other way!

 

First Stop: Fullerton

Let's go. 📷: @redondo_dom #amtrak #fullerton #500destinations

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Welcome to OC, a more suburban version of LA, where a conglomerate of neighborhoods like Fullerton, Cerritos, and Buena Park share a plethora of awesome eateries and attractions:

 
Burger Parlor, just off the train station

@prettyfitfoodie just took #FRYday to the next level. 💯 🌶🍟

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Three's Company ❤🍔🍟

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Aria Korean BBQ and Sushi Bar, Buena Park

 

Dinner with my love

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Odori Sushi, Buena Park — AYCE sushi at its finest

오도리 🍣 격파 👊🏻 . . 맛있군 #0417격파스타그램 #스시는역시수요일 #스시꾼

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We've got all-you-can-eat down to an art 😉🍣 #AYCE #sushi #odori #LAeats

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#lunchtoday #ayce #notimelimit #latergram

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💚💚💚😻 @dianadelaluz.m

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Knotts Berry Farm, Buena Park

Who's ready for a #KnottsBerryFarm weekend? 😎 #BoysenberryFestival #SpringBreak

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Timber Mountain Log Ride is the perfect cure to your #MondayBlues. #KnottsBerryFarm

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Second Stop: Anaheim

EVERYONE knows what Anaheim is famous for!

 
Angel Stadium — you can see it from the train

Meeting for work was here today !

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and Disneyland, of course

#Spring has sprung! 🌸#Disneyland (Photo: @thecaliforniadisney)

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Happy #SunsetSunday! 😍 #DisneyCaliforniaAdventure #Disneyland (Photo: @mutiarasmoments)

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💜🌸💜🌸

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Happy #MatterhornMonday! #Disneyland (📷: @tikiroomtori)

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Third Stop: Santa Ana

As a local native would say, “Santa Ana is a really old town. The old courthouse is a landmark.” But before you give up on Santa Ana, check out these amazing Mexican food joints! If you thought El Taurino in LA or Tacos El Gordo in San Diego was good–which I admit, they are good–you have to try these:

 
El Toro Meat Market

 

Aki al 💯con la Dieta #626motors #cokeboys

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So much meat 😍😍 #tacos #foodporn

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Alebrije’s Grill Taco Truck

 

Taco Acorazado🌮 @alebrijesgrill_tacotruck

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#streettacos #tacos

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Or grab some coffee and brunch at Cafe Calacas

Real friends lunch together❤️ @cafecalacasdtsa

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Tortas make you happy. It's a scientific fact. 🤓❤️ @beastlyappetite @cafecalacasdtsa

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Finish the day strong..#horchatastrong

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Steak Quesadilla..that's what's for Lunch. @cafecalacasdtsa

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@goodeatzco showed us fluffy is burrito(ful) .❤️🌯 #breakfast #burrito #cafecalacasdtsa #goodeatzco

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When ever your having a bad day, remember , churro-k. ❤️. 📸@foodfanatic with the win on the pic ! #churrowaffle #foodfanatic #goodeatzco #yelpoc

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Fourth Stop: Irvine

True to its fame as one of the safest places in SoCal, Irvine flaunts its clean, wide and orderly streets alongside blocks of commercial plazas.

 
Then of course, there’s University of California, Irvine

Ah, springtime. Hope you're having a beautiful weekend! 🌸🐜🍴💙💛 #spring #UCIPride

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And Diamond Jamboree Shopping Center, the plaza where the first 85’C debuted in the US

such a cold night 🙄🙄🙄

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Irvine Spectrum Center

The night is just beginning! What are your plans? #IrvineSpectrum

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Wishing you the best of luck today and everyday! Happy #StPattysDay! ☘️ #IrvineSpectrum

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Magical reflections captured by @shot.by.billy. ✨ #Regram #IrvineSpectrum

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Happy #Easter! Our stores are closed today, but select restaurants are open for brunch. #IrvineSpectrum

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Snooze Eatery (There are other CA locations in San Diego, too)

 

 

 
Fukada (Udon & Spicy Tuna Don)

 

One of life's staples. #fukada

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One of my favorite places to eat. Udon with tempura flakes and spicy tuna don from FUKADA in Irvine.

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Fifth Stop: San Juan Capistrano

You’re still in Orange County at this point. The site of a Catholic mission founded in 1776, this city is home to California’s oldest residential neighborhood, Los Rios, as well as to the oldest in use building in California, the Serra Chapel in the Mission. The first vineyard and the first winery were also birthed in San Juan Capistrano!

 

 

We're on a mission at the mission.

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Sixth Stop: San Clemente

This is where the most gorgeous part of the SD train ride begins, right above the beach and the crashing waves.

The juice. #surftrip #surflife #vanlife #california #waves

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Is it me, or do these palm trees look like the best of friends ever?

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San Clemente_2

 
San Clemente_1

 

Seventh Stop: Oceanside

You are now entering San Diego County! Enjoy this beautiful beach neighborhood just above Carlsbad, whose stunning landscape will leave you breathless. In fact, every coastal town from Oceanside and on, through Carlsbad, Encinitas, Cardiff, Solana Beach, Del Mar, Torrey Pines, all the way down to La Jolla, Point Loma, and Coronado Beach, be prepared to hold your breath because it’s going to be unending splendor and that’s San Diego for ya!

🐦

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😎

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LEGOLAND, Carlsbad for families with kids

The magic of #LEGOLANDCA isn't limited to the Park! Keep the fun times rolling at LEGOLAND Hotel!

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With slides to ride and rafts to build, the sun is always shining at the #LEGOLANDCA Water Park, now open!

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A LEGO apple a day keeps….Banana Man away? 😉 📷 by @mrbrickdesigner #MinifigureMonday #LEGOLANDCA

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Arrive at: Solana Beach

You made it! Sure, we’re still in North SD County, but you can take the 101 bus–southbound–from just across the Amtrak station down to La Jolla and on. The bus will drive you right on the PCH, alongside the Torrey Pines Reserve and UC San Diego. If you want to spend a little more money and go straight into the inner cities of San Diego, purchase a ticket for San Diego, Old Town instead of Solana Beach at Union Station.

 
While in Solana Beach, do try Pizza Port (Other locations also spread throughout San Diego)

How a Friday afternoon should look. #pizzaportbrewingco #goodbeerbringsgoodcheer #pizzaportcbad #todaywasagooddayipa

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I wonder what's for dinner on #nationalpizzaday? #tastygrubandgrog #goodbeerbringsgoodcheer #pizzaportbrewingco #sdbeer

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With 24 beers on tap, I'll choose 135 IPA. #pizzaportsb #135ipa #pizzaportbrewingco #goodbeerbringsgoodcheer #sdbeer

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Torrey Pines Reserve

#torreypinesreserve

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#happyeaster #sandiego #delmar #carmelvalley #torreypines #torreypinesreserve

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A different wavelength

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And check out this list for other things you absolutely must do and see in San Diego! Or experience Amtrak with Lena, Bell, or G Tongi.

 
By Hyeyoung Jung · Contributor


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