Travel Guide to California

2017 Travel Guide to California

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Can you hear that whistle blow? His- toric, romantic, immortalized in legend and song, a train journey goes beyond mere transportation—it's an experience, one that recalls the Golden Age of travel. With the historic completion of the first transconti- nental rail line in 1876, travelers could suddenly reach the 31 st state from the East Coast in a seemingly magical four days—a journey that previously took many perilous weeks, even months, to complete. Cali- fornia's fame and fortune were built on those long lines of track, some would say, and Californians still love their trains—not just for nostalgic reasons. There's no better way to view the state's magnificently diverse landscapes, from breathtaking coastal bluffs lapped by Pacific surf to red- wood forests, vast shimmering deserts, alpine lakes and towering mountain peaks. Whether you prefer to sip fine Napa wines in a luxuriously restored Pullman car, ride the rails Old West-style (complete with train robbery reenactment) or take the whole family along for a BBQ and campfire sing-along, you're sure to find at least one train ride that shakes your caboose. Amtrak Adventures The gold standard of California rail trips is arguably Amtrak's Coast Starlight. Before crossing the border into Oregon, north- bound passengers experience the full spectrum of California's greatest hits. Whether you board at Los Angeles' Union Station or Oakland's Jack London Square, you'll pass snow-capped peaks, gorgeous forests and shimmering shorelines. The full trip, from Los Angeles to Seattle (or reverse), takes 35 hours. But accolades for the "most beautiful train trip in North America" are lavished on Amtrak's California Zephyr, a 51-hour adventure linking the Bay Area with Chicago. The daily departure boards in Emeryville (right across the bay from San Francisco) and crosses two mountain ranges—the Sierra Nevada to Reno, and the Rockies to Denver—with unparalleled vistas. You can also disembark at Truckee to explore Lake Tahoe, a stress-and-traffic-free alternative to crawling over the summit in your own vehicle. If you're drawn to a desert crossing, Amtrak's Southwest Chief connects LA with Chicago via the Mojave. The Sunset Limited/Texas Eagle—Amtrak's most southern route—joins LA with New Orleans and Chicago via Tucson, San Antonio and Houston. 44 2 0 1 7 T R A V E L G U I D E T O C A L I F O R N I A All Aboard! Climb on for panoramic views and a blast of nostalgia BY JEFF GREENWALD & LAURIE WEED AMTRAK ; MARK WEBER AMTRAK Founded in 1971 to provide intercity passenger train service across the country, Amtrak serves 46 of the 50 states and three Canadian provinces on 21,000 miles (34,000 km) of track. Passengers enjoy themselves in the lounge car, above; the Pacific Surfliner crosses the Gaviota railroad trestle above Gaviota Creek in Santa Barbara County, above right. RAILWAY JOURNEYS

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