Facebook Page
Hotel Santa Barbara, Santa Barbara, CA March 29-30, 2012

Hotel Santa Barbara on "The American Riviera" and the Amtrak Pacific Surfliner

Enjoy A Sunny Southern California Beach City and Hotel, reminiscent of a Mediterranean Sea Resort, without an automobile.

March 29-30, 2012

Carl Morrison, 

Pacific Surfliner Locomotives in Los Angles Union Station

How I Got There:
Amtrak Train #763
Fullerton, CA 8:16 a.m. Thursday

No train change or delay in LA.

Santa Barbara, CA, 11:40 a.m.
209 State Street

Leave: Amtrak Train #784
Santa Barbara, CA, 2:03 p.m., Friday

No train change or delay in LA.

Arrive Fullerton, CA, 5:39 p.m.

How I Traveled While There:

Downtown/Oceanfront Electric Trolley 25 cents one way - up or down State Street, Along the Beach on Cabrillo Blvd. to the Zoo.

Telephones/Internet Access:
Personal cell phone and
Free wireless Internet on the Pacific Surfliner and in the lobby at
Hotel Santa Barbara

Where I Stayed:

Hotel Santa Barbara
533 State Street
( click 'Accommodations' )

Where I Ate:


Breakfast:  Amtrak Cafe Car
Lunch:  Enterprise Fish Company
    225 State Street
Dinner:  Joe's Cafe of Santa Barbara
    536 State St.


Breakfast:  Hotel Santa Barbara
Lunch:  Amtrak Cafe Car
Dinner:  Santa Fe Cafe, Fullerton Station


Amtrak Round Trip
Fullerton to SantaBarbara to Fullerton
Full Faire:  $62 per person,
    10% discount for AAA, ($55.80) or
    15% discount for Age 62 and over ($52.70)

Hotel Santa Barbara:  (Mar./Apr.) $219+tax (Thursday night) Double-Queen
    AAA saves $10
    Two-night minimum Fri.-Sat.
    Complimentary Breakfast Buffet.
    (If website says 'sold out' - call them.  Some rooms are saved for call-ins and walk-ins.)

Amtrak Breakfast: $7.25

Enterprise Fish Co.   $12.95, plus a glass of Chardonnay.

Joe's Cafe:  $12.30

Amtrak Lunch: $8.50

Santa Fe Cafe supper:  $6.25

Gas:  $0

For More Information:
or, 1-800-USA-RAIL

Your comments are welcome at:


Fullerton, CA, Amtrak Station is a great local station for starting a train trip because of all the train activity.  Don and I arrived about 1/2 hour  before our departure on the Pacific Surfliner for Santa Barbara.  Since the Southwest Chief No. 3 had not yet arrived, many folks, including Fred Dunn and Lloyd White, were enjoying refreshments from the Santa Fe Cafe at the station while awaiting the arrival. 

While chatting with them and checking one suitcase apiece through to Santa Barbara, we enjoyed 4 BNSF container trains, as well as Metrolink trains pass through.  Finally, at the appointed time of 8:15 a.m. a freight pulled up to the station and awaited our Surfliner which had to cross in front of the freight at the wye east of the station.  We boarded and were ontime for LA.  The seats were nearly full after Fullerton, but in LA, 35 minutes later, we moved to vacated seats that would be facing forward, and on the ocean side.  The train heads into the LA Station and leaves going in the opposite direction for Santa Barbara.

Santa Barbara weather was predicted to be 70 degrees and mostly sunny.  It was overcast leaving Fullerton, but as we arrived in LA, the sun broke through and we had high clouds heading north.  Back on the coast at Camarillo, it was overcast again.

Breakfast choices on this trip from Fullerton to Santa Barbara included getting something before boarding at the Santa Fe Cafe at the Fullerton Station (which has free Wi-Fi - ask the cashier/cook for the password).  I chose to wait until after LA then go to the Cafe car (lower level of Car 2) and get a sausage/egg/cheese English muffin and orange juice for $6.50.
  Sandwiches on the Surfliner are microwaved as opposed to freshly cooked at the Santa Fe Cafe.

Free Wi-Fi Enroute

Free Wi-Fi is available on the Pacific Surfliner.  Just connect to "Amtrak Connect" ( and agree on the startup page to the conditons of use.  One nice feature of the sign in page is "Tracking Current Location" which shows your train on a map.
  However, the map is from such a high elevation, not all cities show, but it does show the track, which many auto GPSs do not show.  This would be exellent for long-distance trains, but as far as I know, the Pacific Parlour car on the Coast Starlight is the only Wi-Fi available on any long-distance trains.

A couple of disclaimers on the Wi-Fi page are interesting:

    Wi-Fi icon
    Internet availability and speed may vary during your trip. Why?

    AmtrakConnect Wi-Fi relies on available bandwidth supplied from cellular carriers with towers along your route.

    Internet speeds will vary during your trip and are influenced by:
        Number of passengers on the train using AmtrakConnect.
        Peak or off-peak usage times.
        Availability and strength of 3G and 4G networks through the area of travel.


Some websites or files might not be accessible. Why?

Restrictions are in place to ensure more bandwidth is available to all passengers, and in consideration of the public environment. Limits include:

    Blocking access to streaming audio and video.
    Blocking file downloads over 10MB.
    Preventing access of potentially offensive websites.

For the most current information regarding AmtrakConnect Wi-Fi service, including the latest list of routes and stations equipped with Wi-Fi, please visit

To prepare for travel, you are advised to download any large files prior to boarding the train.

After reading that "Blocking access to streaming audio and video" above, I switched from listening to Internet Radio,, to using my own iTunes.

(Double-click any photo in this report for a double-sized image; Click BACK in your browser to return to this page.)

Pacific Surfliner Train No. 763 arriving in Fullerton at 8:16 a.m.

(Right and Below)  Online and checking the train's location.  The connection is Free Wi-Fi, so use your iPod Touch or Laptop - no cellular service needed.

Leaving LA on Surfliner No. 763, (moving from left to right in the photo), we passed the first opportunity to head north (coming in from the left) and continued over the LA River, which I had never done on a northbound Amtrak train before.

Crossing the LA River, seldom seen from northbound Amtrak Trains this close to the LA Station.

This new short detour took us closer to the San Antonio Winery, one of the few sights that would cause Preacher Roe to look up from his book.

Metrolink Yard north of LA Station

Hotel Santa Barbara

The ultimate rail trip, in my mind, is when you look forward as much to your destination hotel as you do to the train ride.  This trip to Santa Barbara is just such an ultimate trip.  Sue and I stayed at the Hotel Santa Barbara back in March 8 - 10, 2004. (Link to that Report at the end of this report). 

In each room is a nice brochure - Guest Directory Hotel Santa Barbara.  I particularly like the section - Past and Present.  In the directory I learned:

In 1925, a major earthquake destroyed much of Santa Barbara's downtown area, including the spacious Saint Barbara Hotel.  Vowing never to lose another bulding to an earthquake, the owner built a new hotel to specifications far exceeding those required at that time.  The name was changed to The Barbara Hotel and the entire building, including all floors and stairways, was constructed of reinforced concrete; tied together by hundreds of steel beams.  Boasting exterior walls over a foot thick and a foundation more than five feet wide, the entire structure was built on rollers to allow for movement in the event of an earthquake, a unique innovation in those days.

The Barbara soon became the hotel of choice for many of Hollywood's brightest stars.  Clark Gable and Carol Lombard were frequent guests and eye witnesses claim Leo Camillo rode his horse into the lobby on several occasions. 

Following World War II, the downtown area, along with The Barbara's popularity, gradually declined.  Eventually, the doors were sealed shut.

In 1975 the building, then mainly a residential hotel, was purchased by local residents who began the long process of restoration and renovation.

By the mid 1990s, the downtown area had improved so dramatically that the owners concluded it was time for the hotel to undergo an extreme make-over.

In November 1996 the hotel once again closed its doors, emerging nine months and millions of dollars later as Hotel Santa Barbara--a classic, reborn.  Hotel Santa Barbara has once again become the hotel of choice for discerning travelers everywhere.  

Check in begins at 3 p.m. and check out is at noon.  Rollaway beds, DVD/VCR players, refrigerators, and cribs are available for a nominal charge.

Continental breakfast of fresh pasteries, bagels, cream cheese, waffles, cereal, seasonal fruit, coffee, team, and juice are served from 7 to 10 a.m.

Internet access is wireless at no charge.  The front desk will provide the user name and password.  They even have wireless laptops or a free wireless card for your laptop. (Use HSB to go online, but if you have a Starbucks account, since they are downstairs, you will see their connection available at least on first floor of the hotel.)

Quiet hours are 10 p.m. to 8 a.m.

Hotel Santa Barbara from State Street

Canopy Entry to Hotel Santa Barbara

View from the Front Door.

Finely furnished Left side of Lobby

Reception Desk, Elevator and meeting room beyond.

Right side of Lobby

Room 200, Double Queen, facing east.

Very large room and bath

Desk beside one window.

Very large bathroom

Table with 2 chairs by the far window.  TV in cabinet.

Nice painting of Hwy. 101, the railroad, and the coastline.

Don said, "Look at the bathroom tissue dispenser!"

Abundant Hotel Santa Barbara shampoo, conditioner, lotion, and bath soap (right).

Dining near the Hotel Santa Barbara

Enterprise Fish Company's Mesquite Broiled Fish, 225 State St.  For Lunch, I enjoyed red snapper with bread, chowder and salad for $12.95 plus a glass of Chardonnay.

Don even found a delicious chicken salad and they have a burger for those who do not want fish.

An alternative to the Enterprise Fish Company is the FisHouse where I had eaten lunch 2 weeks earlier while on the Vino Train.  For supper, we went to Joe's directly across State Street from the Hotel Santa Barbara.

Carfree sights in downtown Santa Barbara

We walked down State Street to Stearns Wharf and took theWaterfront Shuttle east on Cabrillo Blvd. to the Santa Barbara Zoo and Bird Refuge.  This was a test run to see if when Don brings his grandson up for an overnight, they can get to the Zoo without a car nor a cab.  It worked and we even noticed a stop on the retun to Stearns Whard at the Carousel - another great place for grand kids.

Faux lighthouse along Cabrillo Blvd. near Stearns Wharf.

The bike trail on the beach is a great place for bicycles.  You can rent them from this place on Cabrillo Blvd.

Next I took the Downtown Shuttle north on State Street to Anapamu St. where I walked a half block to the Library where I always enjoy the two rooms devoted to local art.  Then I walked another half block to the Courthouse.

Santa Barbara Courthouse Clock Tower with accessible observation area at the top.

After a Starbucks on State Street, I walked on north to photograph the Granada Theatre where Yo Yo Ma was the next artist to appear, then Steve Martin and his banjo.

The Arlington is a movie theatre.

A few blocks north of the end of the Downtown Shuttle is Cantwells Market, 1533 State St. - nice place for deli sandwiches and other groceries.

The Downtown/Waterfront Shuttle heading down State Street.

A very reasonably priced shop for resort wear is at Mason and State...a couple of blocks from Stearns Wharf.  I got a 'Santa Barbara, California' sweatshirt for $10, and a long sleeved tee shirt for $12.

Also at Mason and State, I see that "The Californian" Hotel is being refurbished. 

Returning home on the Pacific Surfliner

The founder of was onboard our train back to Orange County, as well as Bob Manning of SWRail.  When we went online using the Surfliner's Wi-Fi, it said we were onboard the Acela Express and showed the map above.  Hope no one took this seriously because it is about 3,000 miles off and April 1 was not until the next day.

It was overcast again, but still a beautiful sea-view ride back to LA.

Many students have Spring Break this week, from the California Universities, and were camping along old Hwy. 101 which is now a seaside campground of sorts.

The California farm workers, however, were not experiencing Spring Break as they continued to harvest food crops near Oxnard.

Orange groves were ripe for picking near Simi.

This school group had just detrained and were 'squeezing in' for a final photograph for the day with the Pacific Surfliner as their backdrop.

Not a scene you would expect in Southern California.

This is the new Amtrak Bus from Fullerton to the Imperial Valley. It leaves at 6:20 pm and we got back at 6:15.  Bob Manning (pictured above) made the connection, but we noticed nearly an hour later that the bus had not yet left.  It was to meet both 784 and 785, but we heard 785 had been delayed by an accident in Anaheim.

Our Santa Barbara Adventure had been a perfect 'overnight-turn-around' trip on the Amtrak Pacific Surfliner.  The main ingredient to this rail adventure was our stay at the Hotel Santa Barbara.

For an earlier Rail Travelouge about the Hotel Santa Barbara, click the link below.  For information on a private rail car trip on the same route, and for notes about wine tasting rooms within walking distance of the Santa Barbara Amtrak Station, click the link below.

"The American Riveria" - Santa Barbara, California, is ready to welcome you.  Check the discounts on Train, Hotels, and Activities at the Santa Barbara Carfree website - link below.

Click Here for a Slide Show of all large format images used in this Report.  Photo Credit:

Hotel Santa Barbara Report, 2004 | Vino Train to Santa Barbara 2 weeks earlier | Santa Barbara Carfree Discounts |

Over 100 Rail Travel Reports by Carl Morrison |

An Expert Rail Travel Agent - Carole Walker - (562) 594-6771 | | Silver Rails Country

101 Free Things to do in Santa Barbara | Walks in Santa Barbara

Top of This Report