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Amtrak Coast Starlight – Scenic Train Ride In The U.S. Under $100


Modified: December 27, 2023

by Sarah Holden

Amtrak Coast Starlight, Mount Shasta
© Photo by Steve Brown on Flickr

Taking you to America’s most breathtaking destinations in incomparable style, travelling on Amtrak Coast Starlight is an unforgettable life experience.


Ride the rails aboard the Coast Starlight, as you take the extraordinary scenic train journey through the West Coast of USA. As you travel from Seattle to Los Angeles, via Santa Barbara, the San Francisco Bay Area, Sacramento and Portland, you will experience one of the world’s greatest rail trips, delivering a unique train vacation beyond expectations.


For more than 41 years, Amtrak Coast Starlight has been a favourite for travellers with a daily service between the two great cities. Slow down and enjoy a relaxing journey, while savouring the creature comforts and romance of rail.


Dramatic Landscapes To Coastal Plains

Amtrak Coast Starlight, Woodford

© Photo by Darren Megowan on Flickr


The Amtrak Coast Starlight reaches top speeds of up to 127 kilometres per hour, keeping journey times along the whole West Coast at about 35 hours — just the perfect time for you to take in the scenic route on your train vacation.


Watch as the views transform overnight. The Coast Starlight offers passengers a window into dramatic landscapes varying from coastal plains and vegetable-lined farmland to thick forests before gradually giving way to the secluded snow-covered forests in the Cascade Mountains in Oregon and Washington.


You’ll even pass by the base of Mount Shasta before hitting Klamath Falls. There, you can have a break and go for a day trip to the Crater Lake National Park.


Though no leg of the trip is without its beauty, some of the most breathtaking views are found on the coastal stretch between Oxnard and San Luis Obispo.


Traveller’s Tip: Choose seats on the left side of the train for more consistently stunning views, especially those of the coast, when heading northbound.


Make Stopovers At Charming Cities

Amtrak Coast Starlight, Portland, Oregon, Union Station

© Photo by The West End on Flickr


Along the way, the Coast Starlight stops at a total of 28 stations. Enjoy the wonderful scenery from the Cascade Range and Mount Shasta to the Pacific Ocean shoreline, there is plenty to see on the Coast Starlight’s scenic train journey.


You can stop at some of the major West Coast cities along the way, the most popular among travellers being:


Los Angeles

This city is the centre of the USA’s film and television industry. Passengers can visit the iconic Hollywood sign and studios such as Paramount Pictures, Universal and Warner Brothers.


San Luis Obispo

Found between Big Sur and Santa Barbara, San Luis Obispo is the unofficial centre of the Central Coast. The city offers a mix of beach culture, metropolitan areas and some of the country’s best wineries.



Arriving at Jack London Square, you can visit a statue of the writer, who frequented the area. Nearby, Old Oakland boasts restored Victorian architecture and boutiques. After that, take a trip to the Oakland Museum to learn about state history, nature, and art.


Klamath Falls

Known as the Oregon’s City of Sunshine, Klamath Falls lies on the Klamath Basin at the southern tip of Upper Klamath Lake and offers the perfect position for cultural excursions and adventurous retreats.



Oregon’s largest city, Portland is overlooked by the snow-capped Mount Hood and is known for its parks, microbreweries, and coffeehouses. The iconic Washington Park, which hosts the Japanese Garden and Oregon Zoo, is definitely worth a visit. 



Surrounded by water, mountains and evergreen forests, and containing thousands of acres of parkland, Seattle is an exciting urban city surrounded by unmatched natural beauty.


The Seattle Centre has become a popular location for tourists interested in arts, entertainment and leisure activities. The campus is home to The Experience Music Project, The Chihuly Garden and Glass Museum, and The Space Needle.


Dining With Panoramic Views

Amtrak Coast Starlight, Dining Lounge

© Photo by The West End on Flickr


Coast Starlight passengers can enjoy access to the Lounge with the upper level offering panoramic views of the passing scenery.


This Lounge Car offers informal dining options with a variety of foods. This includes sandwiches, pizza, snacks, and beverages such as liquor, wine, and beer.


The more formal Dining Lounge features seasonal menus with a selection of entrees for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Passengers can complement their meal with a selection of cocktails, beer, and wine, as well as coffee, tea or soft drinks.


Dining Lounge meals for passengers with Superliner accommodation are included in the price of the train ticket. However, coach class passengers can avail of the dining car service for an additional charge.


Traveller’s Tip: Book Superliner to get priority on dining reservations.


Experience Amtrak Coast Starlight In Style

Amtrak Coast Starlight, Trails and Rails, National Park Guide

© Photo by Russell Neches on Wiki Commons


When travelling on the Amtrak Coast Starlight, you can enjoy the panoramic view on the observation car. Take in the stunning surroundings with National Park Service guides available to narrate you on the passing terrain.


Amtrak offers an assortment of ways to experience Coast Starlight’s stunning journey. These options range from standard coach seating to Superliner Roomettes.



Coach seating features wide, comfortable reclining seats with plenty of legroom. You’ll find a fold-down tray, reading light and electric outlets right at your seat.


Superliner Roomette

The Superliner Roomette is ideal for up to two passengers. The private room comes with two seats at either side of a large window, and they are converted into beds in the evening while you are at dinner.


Superliner Bedroom

The Superliner Bedroom is ideal for up to three passengers. You can find a large sofa and a comfortable chair next to a large window in the bedroom. The bedroom also features a sink and a private restroom with toilet and shower.


Superliner Bedroom Suite

The Superliner Bedroom Suite is ideal for up to six passengers. It is furnished with two large sofas and two comfortable chairs, next to the room’s large windows. Suites also feature two private restrooms with toilets and showers.


Superliner Family Bedroom

Superliner Family Bedrooms come with four beds (two adult-sized and two child-sized). The Family Bedroom spans the entire width of the car and features two large windows, sofa and two seats.


How Do I Book The Amtrak Coast Starlight?

Amtrak Coast Starlight, Scenic Train Ride

© Photo by Andy Chabot on Flickr


To book a scenic train trip on the Coast Starlight, visit the Amtrak website, which offers the option of choosing your seating and room options. Coach tickets start at $98 one-way and prices include two free checked bags.


If you’re looking to travel long distances on a budget in comfort, you’ll find what you’re looking for on the Amtrak Coast Starlight route. 


Finally, check out these trail cameras to bring along to capture those beautiful views.