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Author Topic: Sacramento station questions
Judy McFarland
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The big 2009 summer trip has been reserved, but the planning continues. I will be making the connection from WB Zephyr to NB Starlight at Sacramento (AGR doesn't allow for any other transfer point). Current schedules put me in Sacramento just before dinner time with a wait until almost midnight for the connection (assuming everything is running on time which is probably a pie-in-the-sky assumption). I'll have a book, an iPod and knitting & will plan to have dinner somewhere near the station (I hope), but I'm wondering if:
a) there will be a place to leave my luggage (I don't want to check my bags through to Eugene)
b) the station will be open and well-lit during my wait
c) I need to be concerned about safety
d) anyone have a dinner place suggestion if the Zephyr is on-time so that I miss dinner on the train?
It will be July so I'm guessing it won't be getting dark until around 8 PM or so. I'm sorry that the connection times won't let me go to the museum everyone talks about.

The whole trip is Milwaukee-Chicago-Sacramento-Eugene.
Rental car in Eugene to visit Oregon Coast & Mount Rainier (for 4 days). Return Eugene-Portland (spend the afternoon in Portland), then Portland-Milwaukee via the Empire Builder (because I want to see the Columbia Gorge scenery). All train travel in roomettes courtesy of AGR. Eugene-Portland segment not included because AGR wants to put me on the afternoon bus & I'd rather take the morning train. It's MUCH cheaper to bring the rental car back to Eugene than leave it in Portland.

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My new "default" station (EKH) has no baggage service or QuikTrak machine, but the parking is free! And the NY Central RR Museum is just across the tracks (but not open at Amtrak train times. . ..)

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zephyr
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Sounds like a great trip, Judy.

Regarding the Sacramento station questions:

a. I believe I recall Notelvis and others say they've temporarily stored luggage at SAC. Maybe they can give you more details.

b.-c. The station will be open during your stay. Sacramento has become one of Amtrak's busiest top ten stations. About 40 trains a day stop there now (compared to only the Zephyr when Amtrak started; the Starlight veered north at Davis back then).

d. Old Sacramento is nearby (very easy walk). There a several restaurants there.

Ole Sac is worth the stroll. That's where the railroad museum is (it closes at 5:00 pm, so you might have time to check it out). It's a relatively small and walkable area.

The absolutely best way to wait out the CZ-CS connection (well, for us baseball fans) is to go to a River Cats game. The Sacramento River Cats (the Oakland A's Triple A team) play at Raley's Field, which you get to by walking through Ole Sac and then over the Tower Bridge. Maybe a 15 minute walk.

But alas, you may not be a baseball fan. But I gather you knit. Were you aware of this amenity offered on the Capitol Corridor?
http://www.capitolcorridor.org/promotions/stitch_n_ride.php

This website will give you more information on Old Sac: http://www.oldsacramento.com/

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Mr. Toy
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I'm not real familiar with the area, but my wife and I did take a walk over to the station as part of a visit to the railroad museum and old town. Old town has a number of restaurants so you're sure to find something you like.

To get there go out the station's front door and immediately turn right, follow the walkway towards the freeway interchange. It takes you safely through the maze of freeway ramps and when you reach the other side you are in old town, right next to the museum. One caveat, I'm not sure how safe this area is at night.

Here's a Google map of the neighborhood. The Satellite view will help you see the path leading from the station.

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Railroad Bill
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Hello Judy,
We have stayed in Sacramento on several Amtrak trips now and the station in generally pretty safe and as others have noted, is close walk during the day to Old Town restaurants. There are lots of interesting shops and curio places in Old Town. If you have time a trip into the railroad museum is a must see.
There have always been security guards on the outside walkways at the station and cab at night is better than walking very far. I would not walk from Old Town back to the station at night since the underpasses of the freeway tend to have many street people staying on the rampways. They may be o.k. but never can tell.
I believe you can get the baggage person to let you keep your bags there for your short turn around to the Coast Starlight.
Sacramento is a great city and is worth a walk around the downtown in the afternoon.
Have a great trip. We are heading back to SAC in May for a two week stint around CA.

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smitty195
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I was just there yesterday, and have been there many times over the last 20 years. Old Town Sac is a very safe place, and the walk from the Amtrak station to Old Sac is safe as well. The path takes you under the freeway, but it's not like most freeway underpasses where you find gangs, homeless, and graffiti. On the contrary, it is well-lit and well-traveled. On the other side of the river is an entirely different story! But as long as you're walking between Old Town and the Amtrak station, you're fine. You will see tour buses parked under the overpass as well, and usually the drivers are hanging out there with their buses.

Unfortunately, lots of shops are closing in Old Town. I was shocked yesterday by the number of "Going out of business" signs in store windows. But there are some neat places that will still be around for your visit.

Fat City is a decent restaurant---I had lunch there yesterday. It's less than a 5 minute walk from Amtrak to that restaurant. Low key, good menu (I had halibut and it was excellent). There is also Annabel's (a pasta/pizza place, but I do NOT recommend them....very poor quality food). There is also the Delta King (or maybe it's Delta Queen? I forget) that is a hotel and restaurant. Look for the paddlewheel boat permanently docked along the water----just opposite the Pullman cars for the "Central Pacific" railroad.

Also, yes, the Amtrak station will be open and it is well-lit---no problem there. The light rail line also comes directly to the station, as well as several Amtrak Thruway buses. It's a busy place, so you won't feel alone as in some other Amtrak stations.

Have a fun trip---any questions I might be able to help with, just ask.

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RussM
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If you don't want to walk as far as Old Sac, another good restaurant choice is the River City Brewing Company in the Wesfield Mall. From the station, walk over one block to J Street. About half way between 5th and 3rd, there is a walkway that will take you into the West entrance of the Mall. River City is on the ground floor, on your left as you enter the Mall. if you want something a little lower on the food chain, there is also a Denny's at the corner of 3rd and J Streets.
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amtraxmaniac
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There was (and hopefully still is) a nice little Mexican Food restaurant on 'I' Street called Las Nopales. Anyone familiar with Ole Sac ever been there. I was there about three or four years ago and I can remeber being VERY impressed. If you get in at a decent hour check out when the last departure is on the riverfront train trips. They run vintage train rides along the river during the summer.

As I remember, you head into some more seedy areas as you head in the direction of the Westfield Mall. And Westfield is a further walk than Old Sac.

Personally, I find the station itself to be fascinating as a history buff. I believe it is the original station dating back to the completion of the transcontinental railroad which would make it the oldest in California. There's a mural on the east end wall of the event.

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smitty195
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Nah, there's nothing seedy as you walk towards the mall. All you do is walk through Old Town (away from the Amtrak station) and then walk in the tunnel that goes under the freeway. When you come out of the tunnel, the Holiday Inn is on your left and the Westfield Mall entrance is directly in front of you---next to Starbucks (of course!). The tunnel is clean, well-lit, has colorful art-style paintings on the wall, security cameras, and nice music playing through several speakers. It's a pretty cool place.
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sojourner
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I made a similar trip a few years back by myself and was fine, Judy. You can check bags in Sacramento (sometimes the checker is out helping people load on trains but otherwise it's open); they may charge $2 a bag. And, as noted, it's a nice station.

I recommend Old Town too--nicer than Mall area, and there were a few seedy streets heading out of the mall on the other side (not the Old Town/river side) toward the capitol (which will be closed anyway; I visited that on a southbound trip when schedules used to permit).

On your trip, you may make the train museum--I got there with 15 minutes to closing and they let me in for free, though I couldn't see too much I managed to go to the gift shop too! Walking around Old Town is fun--down on Front Street by the Delta Queen etc as noted above. I recall a very good hard candy shop called Munchies, possibly on J Street? Then, if you eat at the end, you can have the restaurant phone you a cab back to the station if it's gotten dark & you don't want to walk back.

I ate in a place called California Fats on Front Street, kinda Asian fusion recommended by foodies on line but IMO a little on the pricey side, so I'm not sure I recommend it, so if that Mexican place is in Old Town, that sounds better to me! I also recall lots of ice cream shops in Old Town, if you just want a snack.

When I got back to the station (by 9:30 I think), I believe there were already quite a few people waiting for the Starlite. I met some really interesting trainfarers, too, some of my most memorable. And after I got my luggage, I used one bag as a pillow and even took a little nap on the bench (the northbound train was an hour late) because I felt safe doing so, talking with this very nice couple from Vancouver WA.

Re late Starlite: The later it is, the more you see of the Mount Shasta area, I believe, which is so incredibly lovely. In the observation or parlor car, you want to be on the right side facing forward for the mountain, but then on the left side facing forward for water views around Klamath Falls.

The one pointer I have: if you are catching the Empire Builder home, be sure you are overnighting (at least; I stayed 2 but I have friends in the area) in Portland OR (or perhaps overnight in Eugene and take a local train or bus into Portland to catch Empire Builder next day). Do not attempt to make a Coast Starlight to Empire Builder east connection--they will bus you and you will miss the Columbia River Gorge train ride out of Portland!

Enjoy your trip.

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notelvis
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All great points -

I'd recommend Old Sacramento as well for a walk....if your CZ isn't too late you'll still have several hours of daylight whether you get in to the railroad museum or not.

The aforementioned Denny's is not visible from the Amtrak station as it sits on the other side of the Vagabond Inn.......which is my favorite place to stay in Sacramento.

Also, the Amtrak Station is now served by a branch of the lightrail. You can take it up to a central transfer point near the mall if you want something more predictable for a meal. The lightrail is also a good way to do a little sightseeing (it trundles by the state capitol building for instance) cheaply and safely.

Have a great trip.

--------------------
David Pressley

Advocating for passenger trains since 1973!

Climbing toward 5,000 posts like the Southwest Chief ascending Raton Pass. Cautiously, not nearly as fast as in the old days, and hoping to avoid premature reroutes.

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Judy McFarland
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No plans to connect from the Starlite to the Empire Builder. I am doing some major sightseeing in Oregon and southern Washington before returning the rental car to Eugene to save $$$. I plan on taking the morning train to Portland the next day, have lunch & browse Powell's bookstore before catching the Empire Builder.

I am printing out everyone's suggestions - thanks so much!

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My new "default" station (EKH) has no baggage service or QuikTrak machine, but the parking is free! And the NY Central RR Museum is just across the tracks (but not open at Amtrak train times. . ..)

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irish1
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wise choice to see the river gorge. it was really worth it. have a good trip.

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The Copper Country Limited [Milwaukee Road-Soo Line] and the Peninsula 400 [CNW} still my favorites

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Rick Morris
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Judy, you'll love the Columbia River gorge. Having rode the Portland portion of the Empire Builder myself, you'll be blown away by the sheer beauty and majesty of this unique part of the Pacific Northwest. Best time to see it, though (IMHO), is in the summer. The sunset is a sight to behold and many sailboarders can be found enjoying the water.
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Judy McFarland
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I have printed out some of your suggestions and I'm starting to feel more positive about my waiting time in Sacramento. I'll try to do some napping on the train before arrival in Sac so I'll feel fresh & not mind the wait or the late night connection.

In spite of living 2 years in Eugene back in the late 60's, I had never been east of Hood River in the Columbia Gorge until my daughter lived in Walla Walla 3 years ago. I found I loved the stark beauty of eastern Oregon & I'm really looking forward to seeing that area again from the train. In late July, there should be hours of daylight viewing from the train after its Portland departure.

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My new "default" station (EKH) has no baggage service or QuikTrak machine, but the parking is free! And the NY Central RR Museum is just across the tracks (but not open at Amtrak train times. . ..)

Posts: 337 | From: Goshen, IN | Registered: Jun 2006  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
   

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