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It's a win-win when visitors embrace the romance of rail travel and avoid costly gas prices. Travelers from along the West Coast and beyond can book a seat or berth on an Amtrak train and enjoy great coastal views and a relaxing ride. While in San Diego, visitors can also use the region's San Diego Trolley and Coaster trains to explore the region by rail.

Ride the Red Trolley

If you're staying in and around downtown San Diego, the iconic bright red trolley will take you in and around the city. The San Diego Trolley provides convenient services from key locations downtown, including the Santa Fe Depot and the San Diego Convention Center, crisscrossing through downtown and out to various locations like Old Town and Mission Valley.

There are three trolley lines (Blue, Orange and Green) that service the downtown San Diego communities and beyond, covering 51 miles of track, and 53 stations total. Fares run from $1.50 to $3 one-way and trolleys run an average of every 15 minutes, 7 minutes during peak and 30 minutes during off-peak hours.

For current information on Bus and Trolley Service, visit the San Diego Metropolitan Transit System.

Take the Train for Coastal Views

The Santa Fe Depot, located in downtown San Diego on Kettner Blvd and Broadway, is the main hub for Amtrak, providing various coastal train services from downtown San Diego to Oceanside and beyond.

There are plenty of connecting services from the Oceanside station, including the Sprinter inland rail that can take you out east to Escondido. You may also ride the Pacific Surfliner train from San Diego to Solana Beach and Oceanside plus Anaheim, Los Angeles, Santa Barbara, San Luis Obispo and many places in between.

For Amtrak schedules and information, visit Amtrak.

Hop on the Coaster

Monday through Sunday, the North County Transit District's Coaster trains connect downtown San Diego and Old Town with coastal communities throughout the county including Solana Beach, Encinitas, Carlsbad and Oceanside. These trains offer visitors car-free access to some of the most charming beach communities in the region as well as a relaxing ride with breathtaking coastal scenery. There are more than 20 trains that run on weekdays with additional service on weekends. The entire coaster route from Oceanside to the Santa Fe Depot downtown takes about an hour. An adult round-trip fare from downtown San Diego to Oceanside is $11, and children aged 5 and under ride free.

Coaster "Summer Nite" Train

From early June through early July, the Coaster offers later connections so visitors can enjoy all the nightlife San Diego has to offer including the Gaslamp Quarter, San Diego County Fair, 4th of July celebrations, summer concerts and more.

  • Last Southbound - Departs Oceanside at 10:30 PM and arrives at Santa Fe Depot at 11:34 PM.
  • Last Northbound - Departs Santa Fe Depot at 11:45 PM and arrives at Oceanside at 12:45.

Schedules subject to change.

For Coaster schedules and information, visit Coaster.

Take the Sprinter

The newest option is the east-west SPRINTER light rail train system that connects Oceanside, Vista, San Marcos and Escondido. The 22-mile long rail system runs along the Highway 78 corridor, serving 15 stations, and running every 30 minutes. Adult one-way fares are $2, and children aged 5 and under ride free. A regional day pass, valid on the Sprinter, Trolley and buses throughout the county, is $5 for adults and children 5 years and under ride for free.

For Sprinter schedules and information, visit Sprinter.

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A Smart Way to Get Around San Diego – Car2Go March 28, 2012 Written by Alison