Printed from
Back to Location

Space for your notes

Pacific Surfliner Train Ride

Santa Barbara, California, United States


It's fun to take your kids on a real train, the two-storey Pacific Surfliner. This train is your best option- its route is shorter than the Coastal Starlight so it's less likely to be late. The Pacific Surfliner runs from San Diego to San Luis Obispo. It's far slower than taking the car but it's a destination and experience in itself. Santa Barbara families often like to do a morning roundtrip from Goleta to Carpinteria and back. The train station in Carpinteria is right by Carpinteria State Beach so it's easy to hop off the train, play in the dunes for an hour, walk around downtown Carpinteria, and then head back home. It's fun to see familiar spots as you ride along, such as State Street, or the best- Santa Claus Lane Beach. At one point the water is literally a few meters away!
Riding the train in the summer is interesting because you often meet travelers from Europe. We chatted with a lady from Holland during the ride and there was a French family next to us.
Amtrak isn't known for its reliability and the last time we went, the ride home was delayed by 1 1/2 hours. So be prepared! The other downside is that this is a diesel, not electric, train so it doesn't smell fresh like the trains in Europe. I felt kind of nauseous from the fumes.
When buying tickets, you can save a lot of money if you choose the ten-ticket option. You buy ten one-way tickets at once and you save about 40%! Anyone can use the tickets- it doesn't have to be the same people each time. It's an amazing deal (about $66 for ten tickets between Goleta and Carpinteria; about $45 between Santa Barbara and Carpinteria). You have 45 days to use all the tickets. Check the rules here on the amtrak website. You can buy your multi-ride tickets online to print at home, from a machine at the Goleta Station, or from the ticket office at the Santa Barbara station. There is no machine or ticket office at the Carpinteria Station.
Some routes are the terminus route and end in Goleta. We took the 11am train from Carpinteria to Goleta one Saturday and afterwards we got to see the train reverse into the holding area after first driving through a train-wash! It was a blast! The conductor flashed the highlights at us and our kids were delighted.

Photo Gallery

Whizzing by Santa Claus Lane Beach!

The return train arriving at Carpinteria Station.

People often catch the train to Angel Stadium.

Looking out the window at Santa Barbara Station.

Getting off the train at Goleta. The train has two levels.

Train-wash! Who knew they had these?

Watching the train park in the holding area.


This is an interactive map, you can zoom and move it.

To get to Goleta Train Station, exit Highway 101 at Fairview Ave and head toward the ocean. Turn right on Hollister Avenue. Turn right on La Patera Lane and drive until the end. There is a parking lot on the right and parking is free. The address is 25 N La Patera Ln, Goleta CA 93117.
To get to Santa Barbara Train Station, exit at Garden St and head toward the ocean. Turn right on Cabrillo Blvd. Turn right on State St. Very soon you come to the station: You pass Mason Street and then cross over the train tracks and then the station is on your left. Pull into the parking lot. There is a fee to park. Check out the Moreton Bay Fig Tree, which is at the station. The address is 209 State Street, Santa Barbara CA 93101.
All content Copyright © 2006-2018 copying prohibited