A pristine view for miles of the Pacific Ocean, heading up the Pacific Coast Highway (PCH) via train…destination Santa Barbara. I don’t think most people think of taking a train as a mode of transportation when traveling. Especially here in the states but it is quite a luxurious experience. Day trips can be the best for a recharge from a busy work or school week and it’s best if you are able to take the trip during the week. Maybe you have a day off during the work week and you’re bored consider hoping on your local train and heading to a new destination for the day. You won’t regret it. So climb up board this train as we head up the PCH.
In LA the mecca hub of transportation is Union Station, located in downtown LA. It’s here you can catch the buses, subways, or trains for local destinations to across the country destinations. I received a great deal on a round trip train ticket to Santa Barbara for $15, normally a ticket for one way to Santa Barbara is $31…wow! Boy did I get a phenomenal deal. There are 2 main entrances for Union Station, one is on Alameda St and the other is in the back where buses and the public do pick up and drop off. Once inside it may look familiar to people who have never been to the Union Station before. This place has been featured in a ton of movies and shows like the Pharrell’s Happy music video, the Big Bang Theory, the Dark Night Rises, among many others. There is a lot of hustle and bustle from the commuters so it always looks busy. If you’re unsure which platform your train is on, check the signs or ask the information desk; they are very helpful. If you forget to bring snacks for the train ride, no worries there is a Starbucks, a convenient store, and Wetzels Pretzels. The selection here is no where near as grand as Grand Central Station in New York but it will do. Now grab your chocolate chuck muffin, venti caffe mocha, and head for the platform.
The train to Santa Barbara is powered by Amtrak and will take about 3 hours to get there (many, many stops). I sat on the top floor, for the great views of the ocean and country side. Omg, the leg room on the train is amazing, there is a lot space to recline and put your legs up without hitting the seat in front of you. Bonus, there is free wifi aboard so be sure to bring something along to keep yourself entertained. Once you arrive at the Santa Barbara train station, you have many options on what to do and see like Stern Wharf, Mission Santa Barbara, Botanical Gardens, State St, or many others. I chose to head to the Mission first. Across the street from the train station is where you can catch the trolley heading up State St for 50¢ per ride. There are many shops and places to eat along State St so be sure to leave time in your schedule to walk around and experience all it has to offer. Ride the trolley to the end of the line, if your driver is as nice as mine was, she will tell you the directions on how to get to the mission by foot. From the last stop to the mission is about a mile up. The walk there is beautiful; I walked through 2 parks to get there and one contained a pond with turtles…super cute. The city has a small town feel but on a grand scale.
The Mission Santa Barbara was founded by Spanish Franciscans. It was the tenth of 21st missions built for the native people up the California coast. In the past this place was where the native people could come bath and wash their clothes. It’s original purpose was to make Christians out of the local tribe living there; currently it serves as a church. Visitors can take a self guided tour around the facility. Located inside the mission is a museum which costs $8 to see. I was only interested in seeing the architecture of the building and what was inside the building but the door was locked…womp womp. After a few pictures I was on my way to State St. Close to State St I found a cute little vegan restaurant called Green Table and stepped in to have a quick bite to eat. Back on State St I wanted to do some retail therapy and this street has everything you could possible look for from old to new. Next up was Stern Wharf which houses mostly sea food restaurants and souvenir shops. This place was very dull to me, nothing to do and nothing to really see, except a view of the ocean. Unless you love seafood, don’t feel bad if you don’t get a chance to visit, you’re not missing much. After a short relaxation on the beach watching the waves roll in, it was time for my train to arrive.
Even though this was a short get away it gave me a chance to see a new city and experience something different outside of my little world. So if you want a chance to venture out of your little world too, just find a city that you want to get to know and go get em tiger.