Credit: TJ Martin / Metrolink
Credit: TJ Martin / Metrolink

4 Southern California Destinations You Can Reach by Rail

From Ventura to Claremont, Here’s How to Spend a Day in These California Cities

No car? No problem! Travel in style with Metrolink this summer and rest easy knowing how much you’re saving in fuel costs. All you need is a $10 Weekend Day Pass or a $15 Summer Day Pass to get to pretty much any city in SoCal in under two hours. Plus, up to three kids 17 and under ride free on weekends with a paying adult, which means a family of eight can ride from Oceanside to Ventura for just $20 on Saturdays and Sundays. Southern California Train Destinations

Credit: Metrolink

In addition to being green (go you!) by taking public transit, riding the train is a stress-free alternative to driving that allows you to better utilize your time by relaxing or getting work done instead of sitting in frustrating traffic. We put together four underrated SoCal cities that you should spend the day exploring—all linked via rail.

 

Riverside (Riverside Line)

Hop off at any of Metrolink’s three stops in Riverside. You can start by getting off at the Riverside – La Sierra Station to stretch your legs at the California Citrus State Historic Park. The park offers tours and provides details on how citrus first made it to the US. Visit the lush groves of grapefruits, lemons and oranges, and purchase some to take home!

Credit: daveynin / Flickr

Next, take the train over to the Riverside-Downtown Station which is within walking distance of the Riverside Food Lab—the Inland Empire’s very first food hall. There are 14 different eateries for you to choose from. Local favorites include Monty’s Good Burger (a vegan spot that will pleasantly surprise even the most ardent carnivore), Pig Pen Delicacy (known for their signature mac ‘n’ cheese buns on the MacDaddy Burger) and Mi Cafecito (a family-owned coffee shop serving up delicious tres leches lattes). 

@localemag Have you ever binn to the #missioninnriverside #riverside #riversidecaliforina #localemagazine #inlandempire #ie 🎥: @exploreytion ♬ original sound – ocean

If you decide to spend a night in town, the iconic Mission Inn Hotel and Spa is the place to stay, and it’s walking distance from the Riverside-Downtown Station. Originally built in 1902 and now formally recognized as a National Historic Landmark, you’ll find grand archways, Spanish Mission-style architecture and Old World decor. Even with recent renovations, they’ve preserved the original architecture, and the hotel has kept much of its charm and rich history.

Southern California Train Destinations

Claremont (San Bernardino Line)

Credit: Metrolink

To explore Los Angeles County, stop off at the Claremont Station and visit Claremont, which is perhaps best known for the Claremont Colleges. But this city is so much more than a college town! The train stop here will drop you right at Claremont Village, a large outdoor shopping area with upscale and grab-n-go restaurants, a theater, art galleries, boutique stores and trendy bars. Don’t forget to check out their packing house, which has fan favs like Gus’s BBQ, Eureka!, Packing House Wines and Iron & Kin Coffee Company. 

@localemag Yeah, tell me again how bad #california is #localemagazine #newportbeach #crystalcove #lagunabeach ♬ Massive – Drake

For a proper sit-down dinner, make your way over to Aruffo’s Italian Cuisine, a Claremont staple since 1985. Named after the owners, Tom and Valerie Aruffo, this authentic establishment is known by locals for their welcoming ambiance and family feel. Have a glass of fine California wine or imported Italian wine to accompany the grass-fed veal or housemade fresh pasta.

Spend the night at Hotel Casa 425 Lounge and Bar, a boutique hotel that is a full-on vibe. It’s worth checking out even if you’re not staying overnight. The lounge area is chic and poppin’ during the day and cozy and romantic at night, decked out with fairy lights and a firepit. Since you’re taking the Metrolink home, why not end the night with a few of their specialty cocktails?

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Ventura (Ventura County Line)

Credit: Visit Ventura

This vibrant coastal county is constantly brimming with recreational activities to explore. If you’ve been wanting to spend more time in Ventura, it’s only a two-hour Metrolink ride from LA. The weather is pretty much always perfect in Ventura, and the surf is always up, so bring or rent a board if you feel like getting out on the water. Metrolink also offers special weekend service to Ventura County, and in spring of 2022 unveiled a Codeshare agreement with Amtrak allowing riders to explore even further north in the county. 

First, stop off at the Oxnard Station and check out Downtown Oxnard, which is brimming with opportunities to explore. Here, visitors can traverse a wide variety of cafes, restaurants, community events and historical sites that offer enough excitement in this destination to make an adventure of any trip. Next, head north to the Camarillo Station and embark on a quick and easy $1 shuttle ride to the Camarillo Premium Outlets where you can shop ‘till you drop and browse between 160 brands of featured quality retailers.     

Credit: Visit Ventura

Afterwards, head down to Marina Park for some breathtaking sights of the coast. This 15-acre park has an open lawn if you want to read a book while soaking in some sunshine, a jungle gym and some swings with makeshift ships for the kiddos to pretend they’re commandeering. 

Winding down after a day of play, experience a true taste of Ventura, by staying at Waypoint Ventura, a reimagined vintage trailer hotel near the beach. Each one of the restored retro RVs, features its own unique theme. The grounds are well-kept and complete with swings, BBQ pits and cornhole boards. Stay a while and get to know fellow travelers over complimentary s’mores and hot cocoa by the fire!

Southern California Train Destinations

Orange County (Orange County Line or Inland Empire-Orange County Lines)

Credit: Wales Communications

Since it’s so easy to hop on and off a train with Metrolink’s day pass options, you might as well squeeze in a couple cities and embark on a South OC day trip. Trevor’s at the Tracks is the perfect first stop since it’s situated next to the station in San Juan’s historic train depot. They offer spacious courtyard dining and a seasonal menu, ensuring their ingredients are always fresh and locally sourced. Even their craft cocktails are garden-to-glass, so be sure to order one—we love the Don’t Throw Mama Under the Train!

Mission San Juan Capistrano is only a three-minute walk away, making it perfect for an after-meal stroll. When you’re ready to hop back on the train, San Clemente is a mere 10-minute ride away. This coastal city is home to gorgeous beaches, breathtaking bluffs and charming local eateries. 

Credit: Metrolink

You can easily walk from downtown San Clemente to the San Clemente Pier (Metrolink also stops at the San Clemente Pier Station) if you’re looking for some time by the water. Grab a juicy burger from The Rider’s Club Cafe or some fresh oysters on the pier at Fisherman’s, then finish up with a carefully crafted cocktail from Landers Liquor Bar. Head back to the station only when you’ve had your fill of a gorgeous day by the ocean! 

Or, if you’re looking to extend your trip, ride down to the Oceanside Station and spend the night at one of the brand new, side-by-side luxury hotel properties sitting directly adjacent from the sand and surf, The Seabird Resort or the Mission Pacific Hotel.   

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