Santa Barbara Day Trip

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May 30 ,2021

Southern Pacific Train Display

I was going a little stir crazy after fourteen months of this pandemic, and I was desperate to take a day trip somewhere during Memorial weekend.  I’ve driven through Santa Barbara, but I’ve never visited the city.  I thought taking the train would make it more fun and relaxing.  I hadn’t been on the Amtrak for over twenty years, and their prices were quite reasonable for the two of us to take a day trip to Santa Barbara from Union Station in Los Angeles. 

I booked the train tickets then began a little research on things to do and eat within walking distance of the train station.  We also had a pre-booked departure time to stick to so we didn’t want to go too far and risk not getting to the train station in time to catch our train.  Our train to Santa Barbara was a Starlight train, which has fewer stops. Our tickets were for Coach class seats for both trains.  The Starlight coach ticket was $25.00 each and the Surfliner coach ticket was $38.00 each.   We also found the Starlight train to be more comfortable than the Pacific Surfliner train we rode for our return trip to Los Angeles. 

The train ride was relaxing and fairly scenic, and we enjoyed every moment of it.  Once we arrived at the Santa Barbara train station we explored the station area for a bit before we headed to Stearns Wharf.  While at Stearns Wharf we visited the Sea Center and you can read all about our visit here.  After visiting the Sea Center we headed into town to find a place to eat.  We had lunch at the historic Joe’s Café, and the food was delicious. 

There was a sort of street market happening near the shopping center and we walked around there a bit to walk off some of our lunch before heading to McConnell’s for ice cream.  The line for McConnell’s Ice Cream was quite long, but well worth the wait.  I didn’t take a photo of our ice cream, unfortunately, so you’ll have to take my word for it.

We were able to see several murals in the Funk Zone before heading to get some cookies from Insomnia Cookies then head back to the train station.  Be sure to stop by the Santa Barbara Visitor’s Center to get a map for exploring the Funk Zone. Our train back to Los Angeles was much fuller than our train to Santa Barbara, and the sun was setting as our train left Santa Barbara which gave use some great sunset views for our departure. 

We had a great time in Santa Barbara and enjoyed our train rides to get there and back home for a wonderful day trip.  I’m hoping to take some other train trips within the next few years just to be able to relax and enjoy the journey as well as the destination.  Many of the Amtrak stations in California are also historic buildings worthy of exploring, and I recommend leaving yourself some time to enjoy the station and environs on your next Amtrak train journey. 

Stearns Wharf –

Joe’s Cafe –

McConnell’s Ice Cream –

Insomnia Cookies –

Funk Zone –