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Amtrak Coast Starlight: 15 Things You Need To Know Before Riding

Amtrak Coast Starlight
Dining Room on the Coast Starlight
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The Amtrak Coast Starlight is one of the premiere train routes in the United States. It travels from Los Angeles, CA to Seattle, WA and offers some of the most stunning views of the California Coast and Pacific Ocean you’ll find. There are some unique features to the Coast Starlight that make it stand out from other Amtrak Trains.

How Much Does It Cost To Ride The Coast Starlight

The base prices of tickets on the Coast Starlight are:

  • Coach $101
  • Business $158
  • Sleeper $432

These prices are for one passenger. If two passengers are riding, you can just double the price for Coach and Business, but the price of the Sleeper Room will be less than double for two people.

As Amtrak trains fill up, the price goes up. The first person to buy a ticket on a particular route will pay much less than the last person to buy a ticket. The best time to buy an Amtrak ticket to get the cheapest price is as soon as you know you’ll be taking the trip.

Can You Get On and Off the Coast Starlight

You can get on and off the Coast Starlight at fresh air break stops. There will be a fresh air break stop about every 4 hours while riding the train. These stops are longer than usual and last for 7-15 minutes and allow passengers to walk around and get fresh air.

On a quick passenger pick up stop, which only lasts 3 minutes, you will not be allowed to get off the train.

Amtrak trains are also not hop on hop off trains. You cannot get off at one stop and get back on another train later in the day. The Coast Starlight only runs once a day so you’d need to wait until the next day and buy another ticket for that day if you want to get off to spend the day.

How Long Does The Coast Starlight Take

The Coast Starlight takes 33 hours and 46 minutes to travel from Los Angeles, CA to Seattle, WA and 35 hours and 15 minutes to travel from Seattle, WA to Los Angeles, CA.

What are the Stops on the Coast Starlight

Is the Coast Starlight or the Pacific Surfliner Better

The Coast Starlight is better than the Pacific Surfliner for seeing the California Coast and the Pacific Ocean. The Coast Starlight offers observation cars, a dining room, and sleeper cars if needed.

Pacific Surfliner

What are the Differences Between the Coast Starlight and Pacific Surfliner

The Pacific Surfliner travels south of Los Angeles, while the Coast Starlight does not. If you want to reach Disneyland or San Diego, you’ll need to ride the Pacific Surfliner. The Coast Starlight goes north out of California into Oregon and up to Seattle, WA.

The Coast Starlight is a full service overnight train, where the Pacific Surfliner is a day train. It does not have the same amenities as the Coast Starlight.

The Coast Starlight only runs once per day, but the Pacific Surfliner runs multiple times per day.

Amtrak Coast Starlight
Dining Room on the Coast Starlight

Does the Coast Starlight Have Business Class

The Coast Starlight has the best Business Class in the Amtrak system. On the Coast Starlight the Business Class is separated from the rest of the train and it has it’s own observation car. There are times though when this car is not hooked up, and it is unpredictable as to when that will happen.

How Fast Does The Coast Starlight Go

The Coast Starlight has a top speed of 79mph and an average speed of 40mph.

Does The Coast Starlight Have an Observation Car

The Coast Starlight has an observation car in the middle of the train, which can be used by all passengers. There is often also another observation car at the end of the train reserved for business class passengers.

Amtrak Observation Car
The Observation Car

What Is The Most Scenic Section of the Coast Starlight

The best section of the Coast Starlight is on the Pacific Ocean in California from Oxnard, CA to San Luis Obispo, CA. From here you’ll get the best views of the Pacific Ocean.

Amtrak Coast Starlight

What Sleeper Car Rooms Are Available on the Coast Starlight

There are 4 types of sleeper car rooms on the Coast Starlight.

  • Superliner Roomette
  • Superliner Bedroom
  • Superliner Family Bedroom
  • Superliner Accessible Bedroom
Amtrak Coast Starlight Roomette
Superliner Roomette

How Often is the Coast Starlight Late

While the on time record of the Coast Starlight has improved in recent years, it is still late or delayed often. This route used to be nicknamed the “Coast Starlate” due to its bad on time record. It is also the most likely route on Amtrak to be canceled due to wildfire activity along the coast.

Does The Coast Starlight Have WiFi

The Coast Starlight does not have WiFi. You will have cell service for much of your trip though.

Does The Coast Starlight Stop in San Francisco

The Coast Starlight does not stop directly in San Francisco. It stops in nearby Emeryville, CA, from which you can take a connecting bus to San Francisco. You can book a trip directly to San Francisco that includes the bus.

Is the Coast Starlight Worth It

As one of Amtrak’s best routes, the Coast Starlight is worth the cost to ride. With some of the best views in the country and great amenities on the train, we rank the Coast Starlight in our top 3 routes in the United States.

Robert Marmion
Rob is married to Allie and together they have been traveling the world for the past 2 years. Rob is one of the most published photographers in the world, having published over 750,000 images in the last 15 years. He enjoys doing landscape and astrophotography while on the road.