Amtrak Coast Starlight Review – It’s A Must Do!

In this Amtrak Coast Starlight review, we will give you exclusive access to our trip. We travelled from Seattle to Los Angeles, a 35 hours long journey. Additionally, we will break down your ticketing options, routes, seating options, foods, and more.

The Amtrak Coast Starlight is a double-deck Superliner train that travels the west coast from Seattle to Los Angeles. Additionally, it has a total of 28 stops and offers daily departure. It’s most famous for its viewing deck that allows you to see the amazing scenery with high windows.

amtrak coast starlight

We got the chance to book our Superliner Roomette on the left side of the train. Many past passengers recommend this side so that you could see the best views on the ride.

There are a total of 28 stops on this journey wherein you can take a quick breath of fresh air and take photos of the different stations.

Some of the stations included in this route are Los Angeles, Santa Barbara, Sacramento, Eugene in North Carolina, and Portland, Oregon.

Let’s get started.

Ticketing Information

There are no shortcuts if you want to book a ticket for the Amtrak Coast Starlight train. If you want full details about the train and know the schedules of the train departure, you can check their official page here.

Take note that this train is often fully booked which means that you should book a ticket in advance.

Super advanced!

We booked our tickets almost a year ago which allowed us to purchase them at a cheaper price. \Additionally, you should check out Amtrak’s Weekly Specials because they offer up to 80% sales between Tuesday and Friday each week.

You can also call their phone number: US: 1 (800) 872-7245

Baggage Policies

Before boarding the Amtrak Coast Starlight train, you need to check in your luggage. Take note that the crew is very strict in terms of weight allowance on bags.

Each passenger can bring two personal bags which weigh 25 lbs. and has a size of 14 x 11 x 7 inches each.

Also, each passenger is only allowed to have two carry-on bags which weigh 50 lbs. and has a size of 28 x 22 x 14 inches each.

The crew is also strict on what you can and can’t bring inside your bags. For the check-in bags, you’re not allowed to put any food and drinks so make sure that you put them inside your hand luggage.

Additionally, it can take quite a while before you can finish checking in your bags. It took us almost an hour to finish queuing and checking in all our luggage.

Make sure to arrive early at the check-in station so that you won’t be left behind by the train.

Once we were done with our bags, we waited in the Amtrak lounge where it was available for everyone who was waiting to board the train.

You don’t have to rush because they give out allocated seats to everyone who has a ticket.

golden gates bridge in sacramento

Amtrak Coast Starlight Accommodation Options

You have six accommodation options if you’re traveling on the Amtrak Coast Starlight. These options differ, not only in the price but also in the space, amenities, and the number of people that can fit in them.

Also, it’s important to take note that all of these accommodations give you complimentary meals and lounge access.

My friend and I booked the Superliner Roomette where we had a wide-legroom seat by day. By night, we have upper and lower berths where we can sleep comfortably.

Additionally, it’s amazing how much leg room it’s got. We were able to sit and sleep comfortably throughout the trip.

Also, you can put your small bags under the seat. Our large airport-size cases were left downstairs where they put carry-on bags.

Besides the seats, there’s the cup or bottle holder, a pull-out table in the center, pillows, towels, beddings, and linens.

On the left side of the seat, there’s a mini staircase for the bunk bed too. During the day, you can use this as your side table for your mobile phone, books, or armrest. Below the bed, you’ll find the bedding.

Also, you’ll find the trash receptacle and besides that is a small cupboard where you can hang coats.

Lastly, we’re happy to see that we had control over the climate control in our room. There are also announcements every now and then reminding passengers to wear masks all the time except when eating and drinking.

It’s important to take note that during the night, it can get really cold inside the train. Thankfully, my friend and I brought our sleeping bags with us.

If you don’t have a sleeping bag, we suggest that you put on an additional layer of clothes during the night to help you sleep better.

Maybe I am just getting old.

golden gate bridge san francisco

Other Accommodation Options

Aside from the Superliner Roomette, there’s also the Coach Class, Superliner Bedroom, Bedroom Suite, Family Bedroom, and Accessible Bedroom. Each of these rooms has special features that you won’t see in lower-rate rooms.

Coach Class – These are like your typical airline seat, but they can recline a lot further. It’s the most affordable out of the other accommodation options. Although, you won’t get a free meal during your travel and you have to share the restroom assigned per car.

Some people choose to book a coach class even when they are traveling overnight. We suggest that you bring your own sleeping bag and snacks for the ride.

Bedroom – The Bedroom space is 2x bigger compared to the Roomette. Aside from the upper and lower berths by night, there’s also an armchair and sofa during the day. Also, you get your own restroom, shower, and in-room sink.

Bedroom Suite – The Bedroom Suite is 2x bigger compared to the Bedroom accommodation. Four adults can easily fit in this room and you get two in-room sinks, showers, and restrooms. Lastly, you can also bring 3-4 suitcases inside the suite.

Family Bedroom – This is the best choice for a family traveling with children. By day, you have a sofa that can fit people. By night, you get two upper and two lower berths for sleeping. Additionally, you have access to a private shower and restroom in the car assigned to you.

Accessibility Bedroom – This accommodation option is best for people who have disabilities. You get a sofa for two for the day and the bedroom assigned to you is located near the entry-level for easy access. You also get access to the in-room sink, shower, and restroom in your car.

amtrak coast starlight train

Food and Dining Options

All the accommodation options give you complimentary meals. However, if you choose the accessibility room, you get room service for your meals.

When we booked our Superliner Roomette, we got Lunch, Dinner, Breakfast, Lunch, and Dinner again. Although, it’s important to take note that all Amtrak long-distance trains offer the same menu.

You can check out their menu here.

The crew announces when the meal service is ready. Additionally, they visit you in your room to ask what time you would like to eat. You also get an info slip with every meal time on it.

The dining car is just beside the sleeping cars. It features multiple tables and seats where it can fit at least four people.

On the other side of the dining car is the business class, followed by the observation car, and the coaches. We noticed that the crew usually hang out in the dining car to prevent anybody from going to the wrong coach.

Our Food Choices – 1st Day

My friend and I decided to order different foods for each of us to try. For the first day of lunch, we ordered a Ceasar salad and a roasted chicken breast.

We weren’t expecting the food to be that great, but it exceeded our expectations. It also came up with free desserts in which we both chose carrot cakes.

They also have many choices when it comes to beverages, if you feel like a drink or two.

Furthermore, they offer a full three-course dinner meal which is served with an alcoholic drink. (Nice!)

So for dinner, the appetizers we chose are mixed green salad with baby brie and green chile cheese tamale. For the entrees, we ordered the signature Amtrak’s signature flat iron steak and pan-roasted chicken breast.

The steak was superb! Not to mention, the cabernet sauce was a sweet delight and goes perfectly well with the steak.

For the desserts, I decided to go for the Philadelphia cheesecake and my friend got the flourless chocolate forte. On top of this, we decided to go for the Chateau Ste. Michelle – Rose.

Before going to bed, my friend and I felt cold so we decided to eat some of the cup noodles that we bought before boarding the train. It’s a good thing that the guy managing the restaurant happily gave us free hot water.

We’re not sure if they do this to everyone though. However, you can always order a cup of tea with the tea bag separate so that you can use the hot water.

Take note that the only water dispenser you’ll find on the train is the water fountain mid-carriage along with some paper cups and tissues.

amtrak flat iron steak

Our Food Choices – 2nd Day

On the second day, we ordered the Amtrak signature railroad french toast and the continental breakfast. We also chose the breakfast pork sausage links on the sides and some regular coffee.

Since we enjoyed our lunch the other day, we were excited about our choice of food for the second day. I chose the natural Angus burger which I saw yesterday from the other passengers.

They will serve you the burger unassembled which is very pleasing to the eye. Additionally, you can choose what to put in your burger.

My friend chose the savory chili which was a baked potato in a bowl and you can choose which toppings to add. The choices are bacon, scallions, cheddar cheese, and sour cream. We also decided to order some soda for each of us.

Aside from the foods that we’ve mentioned, the Amtrak Coast Starlight train offers a lot of food. There’s also an option fit specifically for kids to enjoy their meals while on the train.

Additionally, you have the option to order vegetarian foods, gluten-free ingredients, or Amtrak’s Healthy Option.

Before boarding the Amtrak Coast Starlight, my friend and I already bought several snacks that we can eat whenever we feel hungry. We suggest that you do the same.

Also, you’ll find their cafe on the Observation Car which is located downstairs. Although, the snacks there can be very expensive.

amtrak coast starlight french toast

The Observation Car

Trying to find a good spot in the observation car can be quite a challenge since there’s only one observation car on the entire train. It’s a first-come, first-serve basis which means that you have to constantly visit the car for you to get a spot at all.

There are a couple of tables and seats on one end of the train. On the other side, you’ll see individual seats that are facing the windows. These solo chairs can swivel around which makes it easier to see around you.

Additionally, the entire room has large curved windows which allow you to take in all the views and amazing scenery.

Throughout the journey and the train, you’ll often find volunteers delivering short stories and lectures about the different places you’re seeing. They also cater to questions so feel free to ask them anything that you’re curious about.

It’s important to take note that the observation car is free for any passenger who wants to spend their time there. You can play card games or eat in this car.

Which Side of the Coast Starlight is Best?

If you’re going northbound, make sure that you are seated on the left side of the train for you to see amazing coastal views.

However, if you’re going southbound, the best view that you may see is the sunset along the coast. If you want to experience the best scenery, make sure that you book your ticket going northbound.

Bathroom and Toilets

The Superliner Roomette doesn’t have an in-room restroom and private shower. This means that you have to share the bathroom and toilet with the other passengers assigned to your car. Not to worry though because, in all our 35-hour long journey, we always saw the toilet shiny and clean.

Although, we found it difficult to flush the toilet. We’re not sure if there are too many people using the same bathroom, but it seems that there’s almost no water every time you initially try to press the flush button.

Eventually, though, everything flushes down the toilet which we were happy about. Sorry I had to be honest here.

santa barbara beach view

Bringing Your Pets With You

Amtrak is very strict with its rules and regulations when it comes to boarding and traveling pets. We saw a couple traveling with us with a dog with them. We were surprised that they didn’t allow the pet to go out of its carrier for the long ride, from Seattle to Portland which is about 3 hours and 30 minutes.

Upon checking the Amtrak website, here’s what we learned. They only allow dogs and cats to travel along as pets. Also, they only accept an animal up to 20 pounds of weight (combined weight of the carrier and pet).

Additionally, the allowed carrier maximum size is 19″ long x 14″ wide x 10.5″ high.

Also, you can only bring a pet if you’re traveling for not longer than 7 hours. Additional rules include:

  • You should check in at least 30 minutes before boarding the train.
  • The pet is not allowed to go out of its carrier.
  • Pets are allowed only in the Coach class.
  • You should put your pet carrier under your assigned seat.
  • They only allow a maximum of five pets inside the train so make sure that you check in your pet on your booking.
  • You can only bring one pet per customer.
  • You cannot bring your pet if you’re planning to travel on multiple trains.
  • Your pet is considered one of your check-in baggage.

They have more rules when it comes to bringing pets inside the Amtrak train. To know more about their regulations, you can check it out here.

portland views from amtrak stalight

Amtrak Coast Starlight Review – Conclusion

The Amtrak Coast Starlight train is an unforgettable experience. With all the farmland, mountains, endless trees, and coastlines, you will surely enjoy the amazing views.

The food was also something to look out for and be sure to try as much as you can if you’re traveling for a full 35 hours.

Additionally, make sure to bring a sleeping bag or clothes that you can wear during the night. It can get really cold in the evening.

Lastly, it’s best if you bring some snacks before boarding the train because the food in the cafe is a bit expensive.

Happy Travelling!