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Travelling from Vancouver to Los Angles

Melbourne, Australia
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Travelling from Vancouver to Los Angles

I am an Aussie and have booked two tours next year in North America. The first ends on 31 May in Vancouver and the second commences on 8 June in Los Angeles, about 2000km away. Rather than flying directly from one city to the other, I have time to see some of the sights along the way. As a solo female traveller, I do not want to drive. I have done quite a bit of research on the internet, including the very difficult to follow Amtrak website. I have come up with a tentative itinerary, on which I would like any comments from people who may have travelled these. Any costs quoted are in a variety of currencies, but since US$ and AU$ are around the same, I have left them as they are.

Vancouver to Victoria: 9am BC Ferry (about 1.5 hours)

Victoria to Seattle: 11.20am Clipper Ferry (about 2.5 hours)

Night(s) in Seattle

Seattle to Portland: 11.25am Amtrak Cascades train (about 4 hours)

Portland to San Francisco: This is the 1000km section I am most unsure about. There is a train, the Amtrak Coast Starlight, which takes around 19 hours, including a 1 hour bus transfer, to get into SF. Since the train leaves Portland at 2.25pm, I would not make it the same day I arrive there from Seattle so would have to spend the night in Portland. This train travels mostly through the night and costs around $350 for a sleeper. Alternatively I can get a one hour plane ticket for around $100 from Portland to San Francisco, probably the same day I arrive from Portland on the Amtrak Cascades.

Night(s) in San Francisco

There is a train that travels directly from SF to LA, but it takes a less scenic inland route. The Pacific Coastliner takes a coastal route but does not go any further north than San Luis Obispo.

San Francisco to San Luis Obispo: Amtrak bus which travels via the Pacific Coast Highway (about 4 hours).

San Luis Obispo to Los Angles: Amtrak Pacific Coastliner (about 6.5 hours).

I would appreciate any comments from anyone who has travelled any of these sections.

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Port Angeles, WA
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1. Re: Travelling from Vancouver to Los Angles

Why are you going to Victoria? That's a weird detour that will add many hours to your trip, as well as the risk of failing to make a connection. Just take the train directly from Vancouver to Seattle. It's fast and pleasant.

You should grasp the nettle and fly. The US has a terrible train system compared to other industrialized nations, and you will be wasting many boring hours trying to cover this enormous stretch of territory.

Vancouver, Canada
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2. Re: Travelling from Vancouver to Los Angles

Hi Eggles, welcome to the forums ~

I'm not clear on your plans to Victoria. It will take 4 hours to travel to Victoria and might be a good idea to spend a night before the 3 hour Clipper journey to Seattle harbour.

The main focus of your question seems to be from Portland to LA. All of this territory is in the US. So you need to do one or both of the following.

Post this well outlined question on the Train Travel Forum, link is here: tripadvisor.com/ShowForum-g1-i12483-Train_Tr…

Post on the Los Angeles Forum: tripadvisor.com/ShowForum-g32655-i61-Los_Ang…

Edited: 18 November 2013, 05:12
Nanaimo, Canada
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3. Re: Travelling from Vancouver to Los Angles

Welcome to Trip Advisor!

I am questioning the route to Victoria as well. You may not even be able to make the Clipper sailing if it is the same day. The ferry ride is beautiful, and well worth the trip, but not if you aren't going to stay in Victoria and see some of the sights.

The ferry ride is one hour forty minutes. Then the walk off, the wait for the bus, and then getting to the harbour to catch the Clipper. I just don't think you can do it in one go. Even if you use the Pacific Coach line, it is cutting it pretty fine. Ferries are delayed all year round for one reason or another. They break down, there are medical emergencies, a sailboat or other boat is in distress, any heavy traffic.

Vancouver-by-the-Sea
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4. Re: Travelling from Vancouver to Los Angles

Despite the gross negativity posted above I've found Amtrak to be fine (website notwithstanding).

Melbourne, Australia
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5. Re: Travelling from Vancouver to Los Angles

Thank you for all your replies. I was under the impression that the ferry trip from Vancouver to Victoria was quite short, and since my first tour ends at the Canada Place Pier, I thought it might be relatively easy to then take a ferry, rather than finding my way into the city to catch a train. But I don't know if there is any distance between Canada Place Pier and the BC Ferry terminal. But I will certainly reconsider this portion of the trip, since my first tour also includes two nights in Victoria. I also didn't know that there was distance between the BC ferry terminal and the Clipper terminal - I guess I assumed they would be more or less in the same place.

I didn't know there was a train travel forum, so I will head over there next.

Edit: I just realised how often I said 'I didn't know' - just as well there is a forum that can tell me these things.,

Edited: 18 November 2013, 06:23
Vancouver, Canada
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6. Re: Travelling from Vancouver to Los Angles

lolol. Never mind! Posting on the forums is for finding out. You wouldn't be asking the questions if you knew the answers.

You are quite right, the ferry trip is 90 minutes. But..... Getting to Tsawwassen Ferry Terminal takes about an hour by either public transit or by Pacific Coach Lines. We usually count in an hour wait for the ferry, but the buses get to the terminal about 20 min in advance of sailing. The ferry will be running on the odd hours plus extra sailings on some Fridays and Sundays. PCL boards the odd hour ferries only. Then when you arrive at Swartz Bay, you need to take public transit down to Victoria which takes an hour, or roll off the ferry on the PCL coach for a 40 min ride down to Victoria.

Public transit begins about 300 metres from Canada Place. The PCL bus station is a 15 min cab ride or 20 min bus ride away. Canada Place is about as close to "the city" as you can get.

You can see for yourself by using this website: maps.google.com

On the left you will see "get directions." Click on that, then enter Vancouver, BC in the first field. In the second field type in Victoria, BC. You can then see the blue line take you from Vancouver, across the water and down to Victoria. You can get a lot fancier by clicking open more fields and finding legs of distances between several locations.

I see no reason to give up going to Victoria for 2 nights. Taking the Clipper from there to Seattle is a very popular choice for many travellers. I think we were concerned that you were thinking of going from BC Ferries to the Clipper on the same day. Your plans, with the 2 nights in Vic will be just fine and will give you a full day to enjoy the city.

A research tip though. On all the forums, especially the busier ones, you will find Top Questions to the right side of the page, if you are on a real computer. These TQs hold a lot of information and they are worth a look see.

Melbourne, Australia
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7. Re: Travelling from Vancouver to Los Angles

>> But..... Getting to Tsawwassen Ferry Terminal takes about an hour by either public transit or by Pacific Coach Lines...... Then when you arrive at Swartz Bay, you need to take public transit down to Victoria which takes an hour, or roll off the ferry on the PCL coach for a 40 min ride down to Victoria.<<

Who knew it would be so complicated? It all sounds so easy when you read about it, and seemed logical to do it in a single day. But I can see the wisdom in travelling from Vancouver to Seattle by train rather than by two ferries. (I have posted on the Train forum as well).

Re the two nights in Victoria referred to in my previous post - perhaps I didn't make it clear that I would have already had two nights in Victoria as part of my first tour. So I will already have spent some time there to see the attractions, and probably don't need to spend more time there (apologies to anyone reading this who lives in Victoria).

Toronto, Canada
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8. Re: Travelling from Vancouver to Los Angles

Victoria Is really beautiful, there is good reason to consider going, but it would be much easier to go to Seattle directly from Vancouver, it's really up to you and your interests....sounds like an awesome trip though!

Vancouver, Canada
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9. Re: Travelling from Vancouver to Los Angles

Eggles ~

If you have already been to Victoria, then to Vancouver and are now outlining going via Victoria to Seattle by ferry, you would be best to use Amtrak Cascades to go to Seattle.

As you are finding out, posting your full itinerary plans - dates and places is the only way to get really good advice from regulars. I had no idea that you would go to Victoria earlier than what you mentioned.

It's not complicated to take the ferry, couldn't be easier in fact. But it does take time.

What are the tours you are taking?

Keep asking questions. The resulting info will help you a lot.

Melbourne, Australia
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10. Re: Travelling from Vancouver to Los Angles

My apologies for not outlining where I am going on my two tours, but they are (1) the Rockies and Alaska with a 14 night land tour including two nights each in Vancouver, Victoria, Banff, Lake Louise and Whistler, plus a seven night Alaskan cruise (starting and finishing in Vancouver) and (2) a 9 day air tour with 2 nights in each of Los Angeles, San Francisco, Yosemite and Las Vegas.

I have just posted this on the Train forum, but thought I would post it here also, as this forum was as helpful as the other.

Much as I would prefer to travel from Vancouver to Seattle by train, the fact that it leaves at 6.40am, and requires passengers to be there an hour beforehand to clear Customs, which would mean at least a 5am or even earlier rising (depending on how far the hotel is from the station) - and I am NOT a morning person - the bus is starting to look better and better. There is no advantage arriving at 11am rather than 1pm, as most hotels do not allow check-in before the afternoon anyway.

Since I arrive back in Vancouver from my Alaskan cruise too late to get the train to Seattle the same day, I will spend a night in Vancouver before starting the journey.

I will probably stay two nights in Seattle, as I have never been there before and I don't get to go there on either of my tours. Then catch the Starlight at 9.35am for the 4 hour trip to Portland, where I will stay one night. Then plane to San Francisco, where I will stay one night. I stay in SF for two nights on my second tour (West Coast US air cruise), so I hope one night is enough..

Then onto Salinas by the Starlight from where I will take the Amtrak bus to Monterey and spend two nights. Then back on the Starlight down to LA., where my air tour starts the next day.

Now to start researching where to stay and what to do in all the cities I will visit.