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Silver Splendor Luncheon by the Sea -- LA to San Diego.

Luncheon by the Sea on the Silver Splendor

Report and Photos by Carl Morrison,

Gourmet Food and Fine Wine, served in a Private Rail Car, while traveling up to 90 mph 

on ribbon rails with Pacific Ocean Beaches just outside your Vista-Dome window ... 

A movie scene?  A dream?  Yes, but a REALITY on one Sunday a month between Los Angeles and San Diego, California.


Anyone can live this dream, as my wife and I did Sunday, April 11.  Silver Splendor's ad at, gives the delicious details:

Luncheon by the Sea, is a gourmet dining trip, a roundtrip from Los Angeles to San Diego on select Sundays.  

Luncheon by the Sea departs from L.A. at 11:10 am and  showcases L.A.  Rail’s newest addition, the Vista-Dome diner-lounge, SILVER SPLENDOR.

Ten to twenty-four guests dine on a four-course meal prepared by chefs de cuisine John and Heidi Caestecker while viewing the beautiful beaches on the way to San Diego. Meals are accompanied by especially selected wines and beverages.

Your adventure promises to be a most enjoyable way to tour the Southern California coastline.

The SILVER SPLENDOR, built in 1956 as Chicago, Burlington & Quincy #4735, has just completed a 12-year restoration.

Please visit for more information. Price Per Person is $179.

Click for:  Luncheon by the Sea Website.

The Schedule of all the Private Rail Car Trips can be found at:

Silver Splendor's Vista Dome at Fullerton, California

(Click any photo below for a double-sized copy; Click BACK in your browser to return to this page.)

Our Luncheon By The Sea on the Silver Splendor started about 40 minutes after the train left Los Angeles Union Station.  We decided to board in Fullerton because it was closer to our home than LAUS, there was free parking, and we parked a few steps from the tracks.


Fullerton, California, Amtrak Station

Southbound Surfliners board on Track 3, across the pedestrian walkway from the station.
The Surfliner arrived on time ...


with the Silver Splendor at the back.

James welcomed us aboard.

John walked us through the lower level dining room and escorted us to the Vista Dome.  Sue and I had a 4-place table in the dome all to ourselves, and at lunch we had a 4-place dining table to ourselves also.  John and Heidi only take enough reservations so that the entire party can be in the dome or the dining room whichever they like.


While lunch was being prepared, we were invited to the Vista Dome for the trip south from Fullerton.


Soon we passed Anaheim Stadium.



Dining takes place in the lower level dining room.

The opposite end of the lower level is a very nice lounge with a bar.  Only enough guests are booked so all can be in the dome, or other sections.  Each group of 2, 3, or four will have a table in the dome and the dining room to themselves.


The staircase to the done is quite artistic.
Arriving at San Juan Capistrano, flowers were right outside our window of the dome.


The San Juan Capistrano 'The Vintage' Restaurant, where our Wine and Train Meetup group meets once a week.


The Pedestrian Walk that crosses the RR tracks in downtown San Juan Capistrano.

Soon after San Juan Capistrano, the dinner bell rang, and we were invited downstairs to the dining room where we had the following delicious lunch:

Silver Splendor's Luncheon by the Sea Menu

First Course

Minestrone Soup

With Fresh Picked Basil Garnish

Second Course

Mixed Green Salad

With Dijon Champagne Vinaigrette


Third Course


With Chicken and Artichokes and Garlic Chardonnay Sauce


Fourth Course

New York Cheesecake

With Raspberry Coulis

Snacks Will Be Available Throughout the Day



We enjoyed chatting with Martin, son of the owners, who helped his brother, James, serve us food and drinks all day.


Del Mar Racetrack

They were having the Good Guys Car Show on the grounds.




Crossing the San Dieguito River, just south of the Fairgrounds.


Table flower in the dining room.

Passenger and freight speed limit.

Wave Crest Resort in Del Mar.

Trail along the Del Mar bluffs (above).

Hwy. 101 bridge of the tracks (below).

The open vestibule is a great place to photograph the tracks trailing behind us as we pass the Torrey Pines Reserve south of the Sorrento Valley Station.


It is hard to believe that this scene is inside the city limits of  San Diego. California.  Once the train reaches the summit above Sorrento Valley Station, it is in Rose Canyon Open Space until it gets back to parallel to I-5, then it becomes urban again until the San Diego Santa Fe Station.


The Santa Fe Depot has the original tiles and name on the tower.
Two cruise ships were in the nearby port.  They both left during the time we were in town.


John told us that we could detrain immediately, or stay onboard while the Surfliner (above) unhooked our car and pulled down past a switch then came back on the adjacent track to head back north on the next run.  Since we were in town for 4 hours, there was no rush to detrain.


During the time before we detrained, I took a few interior photos of the Silver Splendor.

The builder of the Silver Splendor is Budd.

Not having been outside since we boarded in Fullerton, I wondered how the weather was.  John has a convenient inside/outside thermometer so we could find out the temperature (right).



The red wine served onboard.

The white wine served onboard.
In case you wondered how close to the Station the Silver Splendor is  tied up, this is a photo from the vestibule of the station.
Ready to enjoy 4 hours in San Diego before our return land cruise.

It looks like future Silver Splendor Luncheon by the Sea trips will also have the 4 hour layover before returning north to Fullerton and Los Angeles.   Here are some suggestions as to how to enjoy San Diego during those hours:

  1. Sue and I took the Blue Line Trolley to the US/Mexico Border and back.  Each way is a 56 minute ride, so this is doable without hurrying and you will still have time for supper before reboarding.  Sr. Price for a day-pass is $5.00.  For routes and schedules go to:

  2. If we hadn't just been in Old Town the previous week, we would have gone there on the Blue Line, northbound, a twelve minute trip.  There is a wine tasting room in Old Town:  Hacienda De Las Rosas Winery, open 11:30 to 7 pm daily or 9 pm on Fri. and Sat.  2764 Calhoun St. Suite G.  (760) 788-3918  

  3. The USS Midway Museum, 910 N. Harbor Dr, (619) 544-9600.   Open daily 10 - 5 pm

  4. Old Town Trolley Tours, (619) 298-8687, offers a narrated trolley-bus tour with 11 stops where you can get off and reboard.  Next trolley comes at intervals of 30 minutes.

As you step off the Silver Splendor, you'll have plenty of time to photograph the car and station before you start your San Diego Adventures.


Yours truly at the Silver Splendor's vestibule

Station Tower


Original sign on the Santa Fe Station (above).

Walk through the station to the east and outside the door you will see the Trolley Station (below).  There you can purchase a daypass from the machine for $2.50 and embark on your San Diego Adventures.  We decided to take the San Ysidro/Tijuana Blue Line to the border and back, a 56 minute ride each way.  Upon our return, we got off at the Civic Center and had supper before walking back to the Silver Splendor.

Original tile work inside

At the America Plaza Transit Center, signs (right) show where to board either the Orange or Blue line to travel south or north.  Also, there are large signs with the complete route map nearby, or pick up a trolley schedule in the Amtrak Station.  This website gives the same route guide if you want to print it ahead of time:


We decided to take the Blue Line to the Border, a 56 minute ride each way.  Not much to photograph along the way except the San Diego Trolley Barn, and the large McDonalds adjacent to the trolley stop at the end of the line.  (Take $.25 to use the bathrooms.)





In San Ysidro, I noticed the San Diego & Imperial Valley Railroad sign.  I'll have to see where that route runs.
The light from the setting sun in the west seemed even better than 4 hrs earlier, so I took more photos of the Silver Splendor.
The Surfliner that would take the Silver Splendor back to Los Angeles was nearby and the crew was ready to hook us up.




To contact the LA Rail group, which the Silver Splendor  is a part of, use this website or phone number, which is conveniently placed on the door so those who see the car out and about, can reserve a future ride.

I took some additional photos as we walked around the car to board on the station side.  As you can see, with the Silver Splendor as the last car heading north, we were an unusual looking consist with the locomotive neither at the lead nor at the rear.


Sue spotted this interesting reflection in the Silver Splendor's window of a Surfliner locomotive on the adjacent track.



Back onboard, Sue and I found a table in the Dome so we could watch our departure from the San Diego Amtrak Station.
At each end of the car are two 2-place tables so you can look forward, just like the windshield of a car, or to the side for an excellent view or the trip.
Goodbye San Diego.


The vestibule view on the return trip.
We ascended Rose Canyon and crossed under Hwy. 101 at South Del Mar.

Looking West from the Del Mar bluffs, at 90 mph.


Looking South from the Del Mar Bluffs.

Powerhouse, now a civic center and park, Del Mar, CA.

Siding and signals at old Del Mar Station.
Del Mar practice Racetrack, infield lake, and grandstand.
Solana Beach overpass south of the station and switch for tracks 1 and 2.

Placemat and candle on the Vista Dome table, ready for dessert.


This was the first trip where Heidi had used the battery operated candles.
I experimented with some timed exposures.  This photo looks like we had a Ghost for a waiter.


Heidi, Martin, and James detrained at San Juan Capistrano, to head home in San Clemente.  John stayed onboard to see all the guests off in Fullerton and LA, and to tie up the Silver Splendor in LA.
I love the way the lighted railings along the staircase to the Vista Dome look at night ... "Stairway to a Train Lover's Heaven -- A Vista Dome".

My earlier report on the Maiden Voyage of the Silver Splendor is at:

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