My friend Elizabeth and I have been saying for years we wanted to take the Coast Starlight train from California up to Portland, and finally decided to make it happen this year over July 4th. We flew to San Francisco and spent a day site seeing there, got on the train that evening, and 17 hours later we were in Portland.
When we boarded our 5 hour flight to SF, I knew it would be an interesting one when the stranger that sat down beside me informed me that she is currently “going through the process” of getting over her lifelong fear of flying, and this was going to be the longest flight she’d taken yet. As someone who also hates flying, I felt for her, and I was real glad she did the thing and all was well. The flight attendant gave me some American Airlines wings at the end for being helpful (I wasn’t that helpful) with the panicky passenger, and the wings really just made me giggle.
We had such a short time in SF that we decided to take the hop on hop off bus in order to see a lot of things, without ubering or walking around a lot. This plan worked great, as we also got to see the Golden Gate Bridge and ride over it in the open air bus. Highly recommend! After our site seeing we headed over to Emeryville where our train would pick us up. After a few delays, we boarded the train at about 11:30pm.
I’d done a lot of research on this particular train, but when we got to our room and I saw HOW SMALL it was the claustrophobic in me had a little internal panic. I fought it but DANG those rooms are small. They attendant had already set up our beds for us, and I had the top bunk. I recommend the claustrophobic in your group take the lower bunk. For sure. Even so, the beds were comfortable, and I slept great once I fell asleep (headphones were very helpful in drowning out some of the noise).
The next morning we got up and had a nice breakfast, which was included in the cost. Then we spent a couple of hours in the observation train (so cool) just checking out the scenery until lunch. When we came back from lunch (also included) they had put our beds up, so we could now sit in the seats that are in the roomette. This was a great place to watch the views for the last couple of hours of the trip.
I didn’t check out the showers, so I can’t speak to those, but they do have them! I definitely recommend traveling this way if you get the chance. I would definitely take a sleeper car train again. They do state that they have wifi, but they didn’t.
The nice thing about this particular trip was I was able to use the voucher I’d gotten on a previous trip, making my flight free. I had Capital One rewards that I used to reimburse myself for the cost of the train, Elizabeth and I split the cost of one hotel and she had some points we were able to use on another. This made the trip fairly cheap, especially since the meals on the train are included.
Our AirBnB was cancelled a week before our trip, so we ended up staying at the Portlander Inn since we couldn’t find any other places on our budget on that short of notice. It ended up being great. They held our bags for us while we did site seeing, then the shuttle took us to the airport. They also have free breakfast!
With our one day in the area, we decided to take the Columbia Gorge Express so that we could see Multnomah Falls. I’m so glad we did. Not only was it incredibly beautiful- I could have sat there for hours staring at it. The bus cost $7.50 round trip, which is awesome. There’s a restaurant by the waterfall where I ate the best chicken sandwich, friends, and ranch of my life. I still think about that meal once a day.
I highly recommend the Coast Starlight if you ever get the chance.