Forget the Traffic Jams and Use This Guide for Where to Stop When You Take the Train From LA to San Diego

Here’s What to Do, See and Where to Stay Along These Three Southern California Stops

Written By: Kaitlynn Labit
Photography Provided By: Amtrak Pacific Surfliner Train LA to SD

‘Tis the season for green and red lights, blinking bulbs and the sound of horns. The holiday traffic in Southern California truly rings in the Christmas season. It’s the busiest time of year, and there are people to visit and places to see, and crawling along I-405 or the I-805 isn’t a part of any of those plans. Take the better alternative this season and travel with Amtrak’s Pacific Surfliner to your next destination. With several stops between Los Angeles and San Diego, here’s what to do, see and how to make your holiday travel as cheerful as the season by taking the Pacific Surfliner—Mickey Mouse, San Diego coastline views and travel hacks included.

Train LA to SD

LA Day

Get Off At: Union Station

What to Do: If your final destination is Los Angeles, step out of the Pacific Surfliner, into the historic Union Station and order an Uber to take you Downtown LA. You can still feel Christmas in the city by lacing up a pair of skates at the Pershing Square Holiday Ice Skating Rink located in the middle of DTLA. To cap off your day in LA, make sure you take some time to visit Grand Park’s Winter Glow where you’ll find yourself surrounded by over 12 acres of a holiday-themed immersive light display.

Pershing Square Holiday Ice Skating Rink
532 S Olive St
Los Angeles, CA 90013

Grand Park’s Winter Glow
200 N Grand Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90012

Train LA to SD


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by El Cholo Restaurants (@elcholo1923) on

Where to Eat: Since 1923, El Cholo has been serving up authentic Mexican cuisine and throughout the month of December, they’re taking orders for their Holiday Tamales that are only being served at their original Los Angeles location. ¡Feliz Navidad!

El Cholo
1121 S Western Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90006

Train LA to SD


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by Ace Hotel Downtown Los Angeles (@acedtla) on

Where to Stay: Book your night at the ACE Hotel. This Los Angeles staple serves as the place to stay. With its industrial-modern look, rooftop pool (because it’s still sunny even during the holidays) and Instagrammable decor, you can end your LA day right.

ACE Hotel
929 S Broadway
Los Angeles, CA 90015


Native Knowledge: Skip the crowd! Fridays and Sundays are the busiest travel days of the 700 series trains that run from LA to SD. Instead, book your ticket for one of the 500 series trains—same destinations, just without the crowd—during midweek or midday. Pro tip: buy the unreserved Coach ticket and travel with leisure. You can choose to take an earlier or later train without charge if your plans change throughout the day!


A California Adventure

Get Off At: Anaheim Regional Transportation Intermodal Center

What To Do: The Pacific Surfliner is ready to take you into the Christmas spirit. Your next stop? The Happiest Place on Earth. Sport your new Mickey Mouse ears and spend a day at Disneyland eating churros and pickles (not at the same time, obviously), grab a seat to watch A Christmas Fantasy Parade and take your funniest ride photo. We’ll see you in the FastPass line!

1313 Disneyland Dr
Anaheim, CA 92802



View this post on Instagram


A post shared by Anaheim GardenWalk (@thegardenwalk) on

Where To Eat: Take a little stroll from Disney over to the Anaheim Garden Walk and enjoy a good burger and good tunes at Anaheim House of Blues. The location is spacious and has tables that surround a mini stage which means you could have lunch and a show on the right day!

Anaheim Garden Walk
400 Disney Way
Anaheim, CA 92802

Anaheim House of Blues
400 Disney Way, Ste 337
Anaheim, CA 92802



View this post on Instagram


A post shared by TXDisney (@txdisney) on

Where To Stay: Where else is there to stay while in Anaheim than Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel & Spa? End your day by feeling the holiday magic as you kick back and relax in front of the fireplace in the cabin-themed main lobby.

Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel & Spa
1600 S Disneyland Dr
Anaheim, CA 92802


Native Knowledge: Once you arrive at the Anaheim Regional Transportation Intermodal Center, show your Pacific Surfliner ticket when you get on the Anaheim Resort Transit Route 15 and get a free ride to the gates of Disney!

Day At The Bay

Get Off At: Santa Fe Depot


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by Hilton San Diego Bayfront (@hiltonbayfront) on

What To Do: It’s no wonder why you’re heading to America’ Finest City—-we would too! Get off at the Santa Fe Depot stop and slide into the holiday spirit through a 100-foot ice tubing slide at Holiday by the Bay at Hilton San Diego’s Bayfront. There’s something for everyone in the family! Cookie decorating, “iceberg” bumper cars and an interactive light show? Count us in. Once you’ve had your Christmas cheer, get an uber and head downtown where you can take the ferry across to Coronado where you can spend the rest of the day riding bikes, Instagramming views and relaxing!

Hilton San Diego Bayfront
1 Park Blvd
San Diego, CA 92101

Where To Eat: Make a reservation at El Roy’s Tequila Bar + Kitchen! Get your table started with their housemade guacamole, indulge in their beef short rib tacos or their grilled prime flat iron steak and sip on a jalapeno pineapple margarita!

El Roy’s Tequila Bar + Kitchen
1201 First St
Coronado, CA 92118



View this post on Instagram


A post shared by Loews Coronado Bay Resort (@loewscoronado) on

Where to Stay: After a day in the San Diego sun, check in at Loews Coronado Bay Resort. The luxe beach vibes are carried throughout the entire resort. You can take your pick from their Sea Spa massages or spend the rest of the evening going back and forth between your poolside cabana and the jacuzzi.

Loews Coronado Bay Resort
4000 Coronado Bay Rd
Coronado, CA 92118


Native Knowledge: If you’re traveling to San Diego, make sure to grab your seat on the west side of the train and have your phones charged. With these ocean views, you don’t want to miss the opportunity for the perfect time-lapse videos and boomerangs!

 | Website




Related Content

Skip to content