California is filled with iconic, diverse scenery from giant redwoods, stunning mountains, and its famous coastlines. One unique and often scenic way to see the state is by train, and Amtrak offers a rail pass ideal for those wanting to experience different parts of California.
Amtrak’s California Rail Pass only costs $159 for adults and $79.50 for children 2-12. The pass is valid for 7 days of travel during a consecutive 21-day period. There are a few restrictions to be aware of: first, you can only use it for one-way journeys on a given segment, and the pass must be used within one year of purchasing.
The routes available on the pass are Capitol Corridor, San Joaquins, and Pacific Surfliner corridor trains, along with most thruway buses that connect these trains. The Coast Starlight between Los Angeles and Dunsmuir is also eligible for the pass.
That still leaves several trains out, so if you are considering buying the pass, be sure it is eligible for the routes you want to take. The trains that the pass will not apply to include the Sunset Limited, the Southwest Chief, the California Zephyr, and the Texas Eagle.
You can only reserve the pass through a travel agent or call Amtrak at 1-800-USA-RAIL (1-800-872-7245). While we all love online shopping, this requires leaning into the old-school aspect to get your pass. You will still need to reserve your tickets in advance for the trains you plan on riding, and you need to have a hard copy of your ticket when traveling.
The good news is that you can return the pass if you have not yet used it for travel. If you have tickets reserved in advance and want to cancel your pass, you can do so as long as you return the unused tickets.
Overall, it’s a good option if it fits with your travel plans, especially if you want to avoid flying or driving. You can learn more about the pass here.