Oh, my. Highway 101 is backed up how far, you say? I will have to sit in five lanes of bumper-to-bumper traffic for how long? This is not an auspicious start to my trip from Los Angeles to San Luis Obispo. No, this is not a vacation at all.
I should have ridden the train!
Most locals reject the train out of hand by simply citing that the train (known as “Amtrak”) takes around four hours and 45 minutes (in the case of a Burbank Airport station departure) to get from LA to San Luis Obispo. You, intrepid leisure traveler, will instead rise to higher level of transportation consciousness, and recognize that a three hour drive to San Luis Obispo is becoming more and more of a myth as traffic clogs the highways. More importantly, the comfort of the train combined with astounding views of the Pacific coast (views that those drivers will never see!) will make the passage of time irrelevant.
The California coast in all its splendor, right from your seat
As you wind your way out of greater LA and towards Santa Barbara, the Pacific Ocean will unfold before your very eyes. Along much of the train’s path, there are no buildings, no roads, and nearly no people encumbering your deep breathing in of the coastline and beyond.
The views continue to unfold
Much of the stretch between Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo is reputed to be one of the prettiest stretches of railway in America. It is awe inspiring and will have you ogling out the window like when you were an easily amazed child, with a world all fresh and new beckoning for your attention.
Amenities aplenty, especially in Amtrak’s Business Class
For really just a bit more money, you can ride in Business Class, where there are free snacks, juices and the like, and even a free alcoholic beverage around lunchtime. Seats recline generously, and the train is almost never very crowded, so the seat next to you will probably be empty too. Seats are usually non-reserved, so you should exercise your right to choose a seat on the left side if you are heading north, right side if you are heading south. This will afford you the best views. In all classes of service there are power outlets and free Wi-Fi.
You’ve arrived on time and stress free
Contrary to what some naysayers may insist, the train is generally quite punctual. And while it does take longer than driving, this means that there are no traffic variables surrounding when you may arrive at your destination. San Luis Obispo station is quite centrally located, less than ten minutes’ walk from the center of town with its shopping, dining, historic Catholic mission, and more.
Opt for the train ride!
There are at least three trains a day between Los Angeles and San Luis Obispo. Tickets can usually be had for around 40 USD in Coach Class and around 60 USD in Business Class. Buying tickets online is a snap, and is recommended for getting the best deal. Take a trip on Amtrak, and bring the joy back.
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