Train Trip to Santa Barbara

Train Trip to Santa Barbara


For train buffs and those who just want to get views that you won’t see anywhere else, hop on Amtrak at the San Luis Obispo train station for a trip up to the wine country of historic Paso Robles. Sit on the right side of the train for the best views.

The trip takes about an hour, leaving the station at 1011 Railroad Avenue, going past Cal Poly and skirting the California Mens Colony prison. At this point the train almost turns back on itself, with switch backs that are almost 360 degrees. The train then climbs above the Cuesta Grade (elevation 1,522 feet) through tunnels cut by Chinese railroad workers in the nineteenth century. Be sure to look out between the tunnels to see the golden hills towering above Highway 101. Fantastic views! The train continues underneath the grade and through Santa Margarita, a town which only came into existence because of the railroad. The land there was eventually sold off in 50 foot lots.

From there the tracks parallel El Camino Real and go east of pretty little Garden Farms, east of Atascadero, and run along the Salinas River, to another former railroad town, Templeton. From Templeton, the trip ends north in Paso Robles where you can arrange for winery tours, walk the historic downtown with its varied shops and eat in some marvelous restaurants and bistros.

The best time to take this trip is in the spring to see oceans of wildflowers, oak trees, streams, and rivers along areas that you can’t get to on local roads. For train buffs, this is the last link in the California coastal railroad joining the northern and southern tracks that traverse the state. Riding the rails from San Luis Obispo to Paso Robles is a chance to go back in time to see a part of California that you can’t get to any other way.

For information, schedules and reservations : www.amtrak.com




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