Spring break is coming. Ditch the idea of a road trip and explore southern California with the Pacific Surfliner instead. Whether you’re a parent looking to get away with the family for a couple days, or a college student planning a trip with some friends, we’ve got you covered.
The Perks of Traveling by Train
Road trips sound fun in theory, but they can be a bit of a headache after factoring in pit stops, directions, traffic, and are-we-there-yets. Make the most of your time when you ride the train. Stretch your legs, grab food and drinks from the onboard café, stop at the restroom, power your devices at your seat, connect to free Wi-Fi, or sit back and enjoy the views. Deals provide extra savings, too. Kids ages 2-12 ride half off every day, and kids younger than two ride free! Students up to age 25 can save 15%.
Top Spring Break Trips for 2023
Where City Meets the Bay: Downtown San Diego
Enjoy views of the coastline on your way to San Diego, and arrive in the heart of downtown. Tour Petco Park, visit the San Diego Zoo, dine in Little Italy, shop at Seaport Village, explore the museums of Balboa Park, embark on a harbor cruise, and more. Those 21+ can explore the Gaslamp Quarter, known for its nightlife. Try something new by taking the ferry across the bay to the wide sandy beaches of Coronado Island. Learn more.
History Comes Alive: Old Town San Diego
Visit the birthplace of California! Old Town State Historic Park is across from the train station, and home to museums, historic buildings, a working blacksmith shop, and more. Pan for gold, make a candle from scratch, visit one of the “most haunted” houses in America, and enjoy freshly made tortillas. There are dozens of specialty shops, so leave time for shopping. Learn more.
Fun on the Water: Oceanside
Step off the train and be at the beach in minutes! There is a long wooden pier with a restaurant at the end, as well as wide sandy beaches, oceanfront bike paths, and a nearby harbor. The Harbor Village has a New England-style feel, and is the place to go to catch a whale watching trip, rent a kayak, or even rent a boat. Learn more.
Step Back in Time: San Juan Capistrano
Get a glimpse into early California life in the charming town of San Juan Capistrano. Visit the “Jewel of the California Missions”, as well as one of the state’s oldest neighborhoods. There’s a petting zoo that kids love, and a wine bar for those 21+. A track-side restaurant serves delicious food, even a Pacific Surfliner-themed entrée. There’s also a teahouse that offers afternoon tea experiences! Learn more.
Big-Time Attraction: Anaheim
Disneyland® is celebrating its 100th anniversary this year with special entertainment, merchandise, and decorations. California Adventure is celebrating, too, with the annual Food and Wine Festival that lasts through April 25. Use your Amtrak reservation number from a recent or upcoming trip to unlock a 5 percent savings on resort admission, including the special 3-Day SoCal Resident ticket.
Big City Exploring: Los Angeles
With a vibrant downtown, world-class dining, and access to major event venues and cultural attractions, Los Angeles is known as the entertainment capital of the world. Take a stroll through Olvera Street, a colorful Mexican marketplace located just across the street from the train station. The Walt Disney Concert Hall, Little Tokyo, and LA Live are easily accessible with a connection on Metro Rail. Travel a bit further to explore the Hollywood Walk of Fame and Universal City. Learn more.
Beach Getaway: Ventura
Head to Ventura for chill surfer town vibes. The train station is centrally located between the downtown area and the beach. Relax on the sand watching the surfers, and walk to the end of the pier. Head to Main Street to browse boutiques and galleries, explore the historic Mission, and grab a bite to eat. Those 21+ can visit the numerous microbreweries throughout downtown. Learn more.
Something for Everyone: Santa Barbara
Santa Barbara is a seaside paradise known as “the American Riviera”. Adults can explore the Urban Wine Trail, wellness spas, gastropubs, and shopping. Families will enjoy the kid-friendly attractions, including the state-of-the-art children’s museum, the oceanfront maritime museum, and the zoo! Stearns Wharf is a historic pier near the train station with casual and fine dining options, wine tasting, souvenir shops, a candy shop, and locally made ice cream. Learn more.
Taste of Europe: Solvang
The “Danish Capital of America” is nestled in Santa Barbara County’s Wine Country. Transport yourself to what feels like a small town in Denmark and admire the old-world European architecture. Shop for authentic gifts from wooden shoes to cuckoo clocks, taste traditional pastries, and visit the many wine tasting rooms scattered across town. A horse-drawn trolley offers a full tour of the area. Learn more.
Open Outdoors: San Luis Obispo
De-stress in San Luis Obispo, a laid-back town with award-winning wineries, outdoor adventures, and farm-to-table culinary offerings. Visit the Thursday night Farmer’s Market, spanning blocks downtown, to enjoy local produce and restaurant specialties. Take a photo in Bubblegum Alley, one of the city’s most unique and popular landmarks, and tour one of the state’s oldest and best-preserved Spanish Missions. There are dozens of hiking and biking trails to explore. Learn more.
Explore more destinations along the Pacific Surfliner route, and start planning your Spring Break getaway!