Los Angeles By Rail: Taking the Train to L.A.

Take the Train to Los Angeles - Pacific Surfliner
Take the Train to Los Angeles - Pacific Surfliner | Photo courtesy of Nick Chill Photography, Flickr

Los Angeles is not only accessible by air and car, but also by train! Take the train to Los Angeles, and discover a city with great culture, entertainment and activities at your fingertips. The Amtrak and the Metro Rail allow you to get to, and explore Los Angeles easily and comfortably by rail. In the meantime, you can enjoy scenic views, from the surrounding deserts and the sea, on your way to Los Angeles. Taking the train provides visitors to L.A. with an unforgettable experience.

Take the Amtrak to Los Angeles

Amtrak Trains to Los Angeles
Amtrak Trains to Los Angeles | Photo courtesy of ~db~, Flickr

There are several Amtrak rail lines that travel to Los Angeles. You can ride Amtrak to Los Angeles, either directly, or by connection, from almost anywhere in the United States. Travelers from Chicago, New Orleans, Seattle and other cities take the Amtrak to Los Angeles, daily.

See the Amtrak schedule and fare information to Los Angeles.

You can travel to Los Angeles on an Amtrak long distance train and save 20% with Saver Fares when you book early. Reserve your travel at least 14 days in advance aboard many routes across the country now through February 29, 2016 and for travel through May 20, 2016.  Other restrictions apply.

For information and to make your reservations on Saver Fares, visit the Amtrak website.

Amtrak Pacific Surfliner
The Pacific Surfliner is the most frequently-traveled rail line heading into Los Angeles. It travels from San Diego in the south, via Orange County, to Union Station. The Pacific Surfliner also descends from the north, from as far as San Luis Obispo through Santa Barbara and Ventura Counties.

Amtrak Coast Starlight
The Coast Starlight is an exciting option for travelers from as far away as Washington State, Oregon and Northern California. With service from Seattle, Portland, Sacramento, San Francisco Bay Area and San Luis Obispo, L.A.-bound travelers can enjoy the stunning vistas, dense forests and Pacific Coast shorelines on their way to Southern California.

Amtrak Southwest Chief
The Southwest Chief runs daily to Los Angeles from Chicago, Kansas City and Albuquerque, through the vast expanse of the fabled American West. You'll be mesmerized by this region's beauty and allure. The route travels across the mighty Mississippi through eight states—past wheat fields and ranches, missions and pueblos, mountains and deserts. You’ll see spectacular landscapes and pristine vistas not visible from interstate highways.

Amtrak Sunset Limited
Travel from between Louisiana and California along the southernmost route on the Sunset Limited from New Orleans, Houston, El Paso and Tucson, and you will catch great views of Bayou Country, southwestern deserts, and the mountains of California. Three Sunset Limited trains depart for Los Angeles weekly, and it is a great way to experience the spectacular views en route to Los Angeles.

Amtrak Texas Eagle
From cities like Chicago, St. Louis, Little Rock, or Dallas, you can take the Texas Eagle to its terminus in San Antonio, and then connect to the Sunset Limited toward Los Angeles. The Texas Eagle provides a link between the Midwest and Southern California.

Amtrak San Joaquin
The San Joaquin route provides travel from the San Francisco Bay Area, through Sacramento, Stockton and Fresno to Bakersfield where Amtrak Thruway buses conveniently connect you to Los Angeles Union Station.

Arriving at Union Station: L.A.'s Iconic Train Depot

Union Station in Los Angeles
Union Station in Los Angeles | Photo courtesy of dog97209, Flickr

Union Station is one of the most iconic train stations in the history of American rail. Considered the "Last of the Great Railway Stations," its breathtaking interior and exterior design reflects the 1930s, when the rail station was built. The famous waiting room and ticket concourse, as well as other parts of Union Station, have appeared frequently in movies and television shows. Union Station is also the main hub for trains into and out of the city, as well as the Metro Rail system that provides a quick and easy way to access neighborhoods throughout Los Angeles. The Red, Purple, and Gold Lines, as well as the Metrolink passenger trains, are popular methods of rail transportation throughout the city.

Taking the Metro Rail Around Los Angeles

Metro Rail in Los Angeles - Red Line
Metro Rail in Los Angeles - Red Line | Photo courtesy of fredcamino, Flickr

The Metro Rail, L.A.'s subway system, has several lines that lead into and out of Union Station. The most popular lines that take you to landmarks, attractions, and popular neighborhoods throughout the city are the Red Line and the Gold Line. The Red Line goes to locations throughout Downtown L.A., Hollywood, and the Valley. The Gold Line goes to Pasadena and East Los Angeles, through historic and trendy neighborhoods like Highland Park or the Arts District.

See the guide to taking the Red Line or the guide to taking the Gold Line in Los Angeles.

In addition to the Metro Rail, five lines of Metrolink passenger trains can also take you to nearby Ventura County, Antelope Valley, San Bernardino, Riverside and Orange County, from Union Station.

Driving Around Los Angeles

Driving Around Los Angeles
Driving Around Los Angeles | Photo courtesy of Eric Demarcq, Flickr

If you decide to rent a car, you can find car rental kiosks at Union Station - namely Hertz and Budget. Los Angeles' world-famous network of freeways can take you anywhere throughout the city, from the coast to inland communities. The most popular freeways are the 110 freeway connecting Downtown from San Pedro in the south, and Pasadena in the north. The Interstate 5 is also the main freeway to access the Valley, while the Interstate 10 freeway can take you east toward West L.A. communities and Santa Monica.

See the guide to driving in Los Angeles. Also, there are several scenic drives in Los Angeles that you can take, along the mountains or the famed Pacific Coast Highway.

Leaving Los Angeles: The LAX FlyAway

LAX FlyAway Bus from Union Station
LAX FlyAway Bus from Union Station | Photo courtesy of fredcamino, Flickr

If you decide to leave by air, the LAX FlyAway bus provides an affordable alternative to taking a taxicab from Downtown Los Angeles to Los Angeles International Airport (LAX). In fact, tickets on the bus are only $7, and can be purchased from the FlyAway kiosk in the Patsaouras terminal of Union Station. Remote baggage check-in and boarding passes are available for the LAX FlyAway, as well.

FlyAway buses operate 24 hours a day. The buses leaves every 30 minutes between 5 a.m. to 1 a.m., and each hour from 1 a.m. to 5 a.m. To catch the LAX FlyAway, head to Bay 9 of the Patsaouras Transit Plaza, adjacent to Union Station via the East Portal. You can also visit www.lawa.org/flyaway for more information.