This is a spectacular coastal train journey between Seattle and Los Angeles, with detours inland through the Cascade Mountains on the fabulous Amtrak Coast Starlight.
The onboard seats are wide, comfortable and almost fully reclining; the fabulous observation lounge has swivelling seats, that provide a fantastic view of the scenery. There is also a café, a lounge for business class passengers (complete with a wine-tasting event) a dining car and an at-seat dinner service. Advance booking for the dining car is advisable. Wi-fi is available on some trains.
But a word of caution straightaway, don’t even think about it if you are in a hurry. If you have some time on your hands and a lover of trains, this trip is certainly for you! Seattle to Los Angeles is 1,377 miles by Amtrak, which you would do in bite sized chunks.
Inside the trains there are well-padded reclining front-facing seats, ample leg room (crucial for tall passengers like my 6’2” hubby), with big picture windows to watch the world go by, as it travels along at a leisurely speed, giving passengers the opportunity to drink in the splendour of this magnificent adventure.
The 187 miles to Portland take about five hours, which was about average. You can view the wide blue waters of Puget Sound to the right and distant mountains to the left with the intermittent spattering of rivers and lakes, one-horse towns and two-horse towns and real towns like Tacoma and Centralia, which the Americans confusingly call cities.
Thundering over the Columbia River into the imposing Union Station at Portland, which really is a fabulous city and a great place for beer!
Next to stop, the great silver monster – Amtrak’s Coast Starlight, a truly magnificent specimen of locomotive power, clanking wheels and hissing brakes, becomes an imposing force at the platform. Following the route over the valley of the Williamette through Salem and Albany to Eugene.
Next stop, Redding. From here why not take a car out to the Lost Coast and the giant redwoods of Humboldt State Park and other attractions?
Emeryville is the stop for San Francisco. Why not stop in San Francisco for a few days then hire a car to visit Yosemite, Monterey, the Big Sur and San Simeon; before re-joining this magnificent silver beast train, at San Luis Obispo.
This last section to Los Angeles is absolutely astounding. The railway hugs this throbbing, dynamic coastline, with surf pounding one empty beach after another before heralding beautiful Santa Barbara, Oxnard and Santa Monica before arriving into Los Angeles.
When I visited California last year, I remember watching this stunning train passing by. It's on my list. If you fancy trying this, or any other rail trips, get in touch.