As much as I explore Southern California one area that remains somewhat of a mystery is San Diego. Of course, I’ve hit all the biggies – Old Town, the zoo, etc. – but I’ve never had a chance to really get to know the region. Luckily, this weekend I had a good reason to visit- I was meeting a good friend for lunch. I decided to make an adventure out of it and took the train.
The last time I rode an Amtrak I was 13 years old and on a class field trip to Sea World. Let me tell you, that was a good while ago. As an adult I’ve always felt more comfortable driving than using public transport so I never had reason to get on again. But after taking it easy for a couple of weeks I decided I was ready for an adventure and I rode the rails.
I decided to catch the train in Anaheim at the fairly new ARTIC station. Located just off the 57 freeway within walking distance of Angels Stadium and the Honda Center it’s a transportation hub. At ARTIC you can catch the Metrolink, the Amtrak or the bus and travel all over the country. Seriously. You can catch the Sunset Limited to Orlando if you feel like it.
Whiile it’s no Union Station ARTIC is a modern beauty. Soaring glass ceilings fill the station with light and it’s spotlessly clean. It really was the perfect place to catch the train. Soon enough mine arrived and I hopped on board for the 2 hour journey down the coast. I had brought a book to read (The King and Queen of Malibu, super good, I’m totally writing a post about it later) but spent a good deal of time looking out the window. There are several stops between Anaheim and San Diego and it was fun to check them out.
I love the classic beauty of the Santa Ana train station but couldn’t get a good shot from my seat. I may have to visit it again to explore it more thoroughly.
The San Juan Capistrano station is situated seemingly in the middle of paradise. Another historic structure it’s surrounded by the quaint town. If people in modern dress weren’t wandering around I would have sworn I had traveled back in time.
The San Clemente station is located right at the pier. Seriously. At. The. Pier. That restaurant you see? That’s the pier!
As you can also see I had made it to the beach. Just after San Juan Capistrano the tracks follow the coast for the remaining distance. At this point I couldn’t really concentrate on my book when there was so much beauty outside my window.
It was overcast out and I was loving it! Before I knew it we were at our final stop – the Santa Fe Depot in San Diego.
I had never been there before and was excited to see that it was also a historic station. Opened in 1915 this magnificent Mission Revival structure has served travelers for over 100 years. I spent a little time exploring and it’s quite the beauty.
I then met my friend for lunch in adjoining Little Italy. We decided to stop at Pan Bon – a contemporary Italian bakery-cafe.
Inside was a long display case filled with sandwiches, pizza, baked goods and more. I decided to try something new – the focaccia Genovese.
Almost like a double crusted pizza it was filled with ham and mozzarella. For $5 it was a tasty, inexpensive meal that left me with enough room to sample their array of deserts.
The opera cake was a little too sweet for me but the tiramisu was fantastic.
All too soon it was time to catch the train home. I did manage a quick stroll around the area where I came across some fantastic historic structures.
On the way home I settled into my seat and read most of the way. I did manage to sneak a few peaks out the window and was treated to beautiful evening views.
Although I can get to San Diego quicker by driving I definitely plan to take the train again. It was nice to just sit back, relax and enjoy the beauty of California just outside my window.