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Travel California by Rail/Bus?

Dublin, Ireland
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Travel California by Rail/Bus?

Hello, I am in the very early stages of planning a trip to California from Dublin for my boyfriend and I in July 2014, but am a bit lost with planning the route & modes of transport. We want to start in San Fransisco and finish up in Las Vegas, so all I know for sure is that we will fly into San Fran on July 15th and leave Vegas by August 28th. So we have 6 weeks approx in total for this trip. I would like about a week in San Fran in the beginning to include a trip to Yosemite for a night or two during this time, and we would want about 5/6 nights in Vegas at the end including a trip to the Grand Canyon for 1 night. For the time inbetween I have been looking at traveling down the coast of California visiting a couple of towns/cities along the way for a few nights here and there. I like the sound of Monterey (we would absolutly love whale watching which ive read they do there) and we definitly want to spend some time in Los Angela's and see DisneyLand. We are fond of renting out bikes when we are away and floating around the place exploring(nothing too strenuous), would love to try out some watersports, we love food & we love our beer and nightlife. We are both passionate about live music also. We are both seasoned festival goers back home so it would be really cool to stuble across one while we are there.

We dont want to drive which i know limits us as I have been trying to get my head around Amtrak ticket prices and multi ride/multi city tickets with little luck. I emailed them about a week ago with no reply. A lot of the routes seem to exclude 'checked baggage' which isnt great seing as we will definitly have bags on each segment of the journey. Our budget is about €5000 but I can get a loan to top that up if im wildly underestimating costs. This figure excludes our flights there and back& Vegas accom. We are not fussy about hotel's, not looking for luxury, just clean safe, not too far from life accomodation is enough for us!

So I guess in short my questions are: Any suggestions for Itinery? Any help with public transport idea's so that we get value for money on rail/bus tickets? Budget estimate? (We are both in our late twenties by the way)

Thanks so much :-)

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Dublin
Dublin
Tri-Valley, CA
San Francisco
San Francisco
California
Monterey
Monterey
Monterey County, CA
Washington State
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for Yosemite National Park
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1. Re: Travel California by Rail/Bus?

I understand that you don't want to drive. But is there any possibility that we can talk you into it? California is a driving state and you'll miss a lot if you rely on public transportation.

If there is absolutely no way that you can or will drive, then we'll work with your restriction. Let us know.

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Dublin, Ireland
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2. Re: Travel California by Rail/Bus?

Thanks for the reply :-) Unfortunatly only my boyfriend drives and he is not keen on a driving holiday considering we do enjoy a drink and we couldnt share the burdon of driving. He said he wouldnt be adverse to a little bit of driving...like perhaps a couple of short trips here and there...

Anaheim, California
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3. Re: Travel California by Rail/Bus?

OK, without driving, you have options. As mentioned the Amtrak Train System is the big one, but there are also commuter routes that add on. As for "checking" luggage, it really depends on the actual station, some are just a piece of concrete on the side of the tracks and not really a true station (aka a building). But the Coast Starlight (the once a day train that goes up and down the coast) has a lot of stations that will deal with checked luggage, as will the Amtrak Pacific Surfliner (11 trains a day in each direction). One route, the San Joaquin is a combination of a train through central California (pretty boring views) and then a bus from Bakersfield to Los Angeles (Union Station), so be careful with that. Also there are no trains that go to Las Vegas currently.

More info of the rail system and fares can be found at TA's Train Forum.

tripadvisor.com/ShowForum-g1-i12483-Train_Tr…

One other popular form of travel in California and the region is airline travel. There are many airports and many discounted airlines that service them.

tripadvisor.com/Travel-g28926-c180227/Califo…

Have fun planning your trip.

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Pacific Surfliner
Pacific Surfliner
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California
Bakersfield
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Union Station
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Los Angeles, CA
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4. Re: Travel California by Rail/Bus?

The Coast Starlight does not take in the most gorgeous and awesome part of the coast -- along Big Sur.

If your primary issue is not wanting to drink and drive, there are numerous small villages along the coast to stay where walking to dinner is the logical option. Monterey/Carmel, Cambria/Pismo Beach, Santa Barbara.

I agree with PNWF that this is a driving state and most of the natural beauty is primarily accessible via car.

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Big Sur
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Grover Beach...
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5. Re: Travel California by Rail/Bus?

Our trains/buses are mainly designed to get a person from Point A to Point B. In other words, you'll miss out on some of the better scenery California has to offer if you utilize those options. Yes, the Coast Starlight does offer some ocean views, but nothing compared to the wild, dramatic Big Sur coast.

If you opt for the train, you could take it down to Salinas and make your way over to Monterey/Carmel via local bus, but without a car, it will be difficult to get to some of the area's most scenic spots: Point Lobos State Reserve, Big Sur, etc.

You would then have to take the local bus back to Salinas to get back on the train to complete your travel. So you would be at the mercy of a limited train schedule while trying to make your way to LA.

I concur with WhiteDahlia's suggestion to self drive and book lodgings within walking distance of restaurants/bars/pubs en route.

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Sur Restaurant & Grill
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6. Re: Travel California by Rail/Bus?

6 weeks is a long time for your trip, especially if you do not drive.

You could really take advantage of the long time and spend some time in other interesting areas of the US.

I suggest you get ahold of some budget traveler guidebooks and read them for suggested itineraries and budgeting. Lonely Planet USA is good, Rough Guide and Moon Handbooks are also. However, I would add on another 25% at least above the prices they quote unless the guidebook you read is a 2013 version.

As you will not be renting a car, then I would look at www.greentortoise.com for their tours. They are geared toward budget minded foreign travelers. You could do one of their National Parks tours. Many of the more spectacular US National Parks are not easy or near-impossible to do by public transportation.

You should also be posting on Lonely Planet Thorn Tree USA posting board, which is geared more towards your style of travel.

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Dublin, Ireland
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7. Re: Travel California by Rail/Bus?

Thanks so much for all your advise! I have spoken withmy bf and we think renting a car is probably best now. Minimum driving though! So where would the best places to stop for a few nights be between san fran and La? I like the sound of Monterey,but where else would you absoltly say go there?!

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Monterey
Monterey
Monterey County, CA
San Francisco...
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8. Re: Travel California by Rail/Bus?

FAQ SF to LA coast Primer (added Nov 2013)

Right side of this forum page. Please read. There is no absolutely visit or must see. All depends on your travel style and there are a bunch of places to see and stay in

Grover Beach...
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9. Re: Travel California by Rail/Bus?

"...but where else would you absoltly say go there?!"

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Cambria

Pismo or Avila Beach

Santa Barbara (I feel this is a little too far to drive from Monterey, but it's an option)

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Cambria
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San Luis Obispo County, CA
Avila Beach
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San Luis Obispo County, CA
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Monterey County, CA
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10. Re: Travel California by Rail/Bus?

Yes, you cannot see California on trains and buses....glad you have decided to drive.

Please follow belomiser's advice and read everything on the right side of your screen, labeled "Top Questions about California" and digest it well.

When you have a sense of the state, then come back and ask your specific questions.

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