Amtrak: The Great Western Adventure, By Rail
Take the Amtrak Coast Starlight from Seattle to LA
The West Coast offers some of the most spectacular views in North America, from the glittering Seattle skyline, past spectacular forests and snow-peaked mountains, right down to the sapphire-blue coast of LA.
A 35-hour train journey might sound like a bit of a slog, especially if you happen to be a frequent commuter in the UK – but if you factor in the hundreds of miles of waterfalls, tree covered valleys, ravines and jagged coastlines just outside your window – then it may well be the most memorable 35 hours of your life.
Rail journeys may be slower than flying or cruising, but nothing brings you closer to the terrain and the ever-changing nature of the landscape than a train. For thinkers and dreamers, a rail journey offers the perfect chance to sit back and enjoy the moment: to watch the world rush by and to know that you don’t have to do anything or be anywhere for once. All you have to do is find a comfortable seat and watch the landscape unfurl.
Your journey begins…
Your Amtrak journey to LA will begin at King Street Station in Seattle. This towering 108-year-old building is in itself a sight to behold. After a recent renovation project, the original ceiling (brilliant white, ornately plastered and based on the famous Salone dei Cinquecento in Florence) has finally been uncovered after architects concealed it behind a flat suspended ceiling in the ‘60s.
The Coast Starlight may not be a five star cruise ship but it does have plenty of first class amenities, good service and a Super Sleeping ticket option for extra comfort and privacy. Sleeper passengers can choose from three bedroom sizes, including a compact ‘Roomette’, a‘Bedroom’ with its own toilet and shower, a ‘Bedroom Suite’ for four to six people, a child-friendly ‘Family Bedroom’ and a ‘Superliner Accessible’ for those with disabilities. Sleeper tickets also come with complementary onboard Wifi, an alternative meal service and a special welcome gift – plus extra amenities including climate control, reading lights, fresh towels, soaps, newspapers and a personal turndown service.
Relax or Socialise
Sleeper passengers can go to relax, socialise or celebrate in the vintage first class Pacific Parlour Cars, featuring floor to ceiling windows, luxurious window-facing seats, a generously stocked bar, cinema and a dining room. Passengers can enjoy a continental breakfast here in the morning, and then a wine tasting experience in the afternoon that offers four generous samples of wine regional wine. For those travelling alone, the Parlour Cars and Sightseer Lounge (for all passengers) offer a good change to mingle with fellow passengers and make new friends.
Enjoy the Views
Of course, rail journeys are hardly about the amenities inside the train. The most extraordinary part is the magic happening outside the window. Every time you look out from a train, the world is new: nothing remains the same for long.
As the train chugs along the Washington/Oregon state line, you will pass by huge and facinating industrial areas before the snow-capped Three Sisters Mountains come into view. Further down the line you will encounter Upper Klamath Lake – one of the largest freshwater lakes west of the Rockies at a staggering eight miles wide and 40 miles long. Once in California, the train passes through the Santa Clara Valley with the beautiful green Santa Cruse mountain range on the right. Later, you will discover Watsonville Junction ripe with apple orchards, strawberry fields and lettuce patches and soon after San Luis Obispo, the track joins the coast and reveals a breath-taking view of the Pacific Ocean, which passengers can enjoy unobstructed for 104 miles. Disembark at Los Angeles and enjoy the warm air and the charming mix of Spanish and Art Deco architecture.
What better place to end your journey than on the sundrenched Californian coast, with endless white beaches and the shining lights of Tinseltown beckoning you in?