Explore California on the Pacific Surfliner 


By Doña Uhrig 

Sunday Signal Editor 

When was the last time you took a leisurely train ride? You know, where you relax and enjoy the scenery while on your way to a fun adventure? 

Lucky for you there are several incredible Southern California weekend trips you can take by train.  

These are all on the Pacific Surfliner with destinations in San Luis Obispo, San Juan Capistrano, and San Diego. 

Relax as you head to Sea World on the Surfliner. PHOTO COURTESY SEA WORLD.
Relax as you head to Sea World on the Surfliner. PHOTO COURTESY SEA WORLD.

San Luis Obispo 

From Union Station About 5 hours 

Info www.pacificsurfliner.com/destinations/san-luis-obispo/ 

Once you get there, the station is within walking distance of downtown where you can find boutique shops, restaurants, tasting rooms and more. 

Mission San Luis Obispo De Tolosa, located at 751 Palm St., is less than a mile from the train station. Founded in 1772 and built in 1792, the mission continues as an active church today. 

The mission could serve as your first stop in downtown as it lies at its center on a traffic-free block of Palm Street between Chorro and Broad. 

If you want to venture a little further out you can bring your bike on the train for free by making a bike reservation when booking your trip. Your ticket includes complimentary local transfers. Pacific Surfliner passengers just need to show their train ticket when boarding a bus. 


San Diego 

From Union Station About 2 hours 

Info bit.ly/3Rpn7FI 

The Santa Fe Depot is the name of the Amtrak station in San Diego. From here you can visit the Museum of Contemporary Art, connect with secret food tours, visit the San Pasqual Winery tasting room at Seaport Village or spend time at SeaWorld San Diego. 

The Museum of Contemporary Art is about a one-minute walk from the train station and is housed in the historic Jacobs Building, which originally was the Santa Fe Depot baggage building. For more information, visit mcasd.org/visit/downtown. 

The Secret Food Tours are located about a three-minute walk from the station at 500 W. Broadway, The Guild Hotel. You’ll enjoy dishes with influences from Mexico to the Far East while exploring the downtown area. For more information, visit www.secretfoodtours.com/san-diego. 

If you are interested in tasting some local wines, visit the San Pasqual Winery, which is about a 14-minute walk from the depot to the winery at Seaport Village. For information, visit www.sanpasqualwinery.com/Seaport-Village-San-Diego-Tasting-Room. 

SeaWorld is located five miles from the Santa Fe Depot. You can take public transportation using the Green line from the depot to the Old Town Station, walk about 5 minutes to the Transit Station and then take the bus to Sea World. But that will take you about an hour. Or, you can take a taxi. 

The Tea House Los Rios: The Tea Room is located in San Juan Capistrano’s Los Rios Historic District. PHOTO COURTESY THE TEA ROOM
The Tea House Los Rios: The Tea Room is located in San Juan Capistrano’s Los Rios Historic District. PHOTO COURTESY THE TEA ROOM

San Juan Capistrano 

From Union Station About 1 1/2 hours 

Info bit.ly/3LNLLfF 

Mission San Juan Capistrano is about a tenth of a mile from the Amtrak station. The mission is considered the birthplace of Orange Country. 

It is probably most famous for the annual return of the swallows, which occurs each year on March 19, St. Joseph’s Day. Legend says a shopkeeper was trying to chase the swallows away from his shop with a broomstick. Father St. John O’Sullivan asked what he was doing and the shopkeeper said the dirty birds were a nuisance. Father O’Sullivan then said, “Come on swallows, I’ll give you shelter. Come to the Mission. There’s room enough there for all.” The next morning, the swallows appeared at the church. 

The mission was founded on Nov. 1, 1776 by Junipero Serra and is the 7th of the 21 missions established in California. For more information, visit www.missionsjc.com. 

The Los Rios Historic District is directly across the tracks from the Capistrano Depot and is the oldest neighborhood in California.  

According to visitSanJuanCapistrano.net, there are some 40 homes that vary in age from 50 to 204 years old. Most are private dwellings. However, the Montanez Adobe, the O’Neill Museum, the Ramos House Cafe, the Lobo House, the Rodman House and the Lupe Combs House are businesses and open to the public. 

The Capistrano Trading Post is located across the street from the mission and is best know for its Native American jewelry and turquoise. According to their website, they boast San Juan Capistrano’s largest selection of local souvenirs, religious goods, art work and crafts by local artisans. For more information, visit capistranotradingpost.com.

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