Train inside the California State Train Museum, trip wellness,

One of the originals inside the California State Train Museum in Sacramento

Taking the train is a treat. It’s romantic, restful and easily the most comfortable commute I’ve made – at least along the Capitol Corridor in Northern California. I’ve been an Amtrak fan for years but it hasn’t always been easy to match my schedule with the route times. train station, Capitol Corridor, tripwellnessThe Capitol Corridor makes that moot with seventeen stops several times a day, plus bus and Bart connections from the Oakland Airport to San Jose or north to Auburn. Through-way buses will take you from stations to San Francisco and up to Truckee or Reno as well.

I rode from Emeryville  (in between Berkeley and Oakland,) where you can park your car for free with validation from inside the station. As I was traveling just past rush hour there were plenty of seats and I plugged in my computer at a table with a view. It was fun too to connect with other riders and trade stories.
Riding the Capitol Corridor
Capitol Corridor, train times, trip wellness, mom and baby commute.

Mom and baby commute to work (and Grandma) on the Capitol Corridor.

In the 15 years since I first rode the train to Sacramento there’s been lots of upgrades. Today you can bring your bike along for the ride. All trains on the Capitol Corridor have a limited number of bicycle racks, allowing you to bring your bike onboard as unboxed, carry-on baggage. There are also WiFi and outlets to keep electronics charged.

I wished my bike was with me on this trip to Sacramento. The station is just a few hundred feet from the riverfront and the Old Town businesses.

Bicyclist on the Capitol Corridor, trip wellness

Bring your bike on board!

While adjacent to downtown, there are bike trails and the topography is mercifully flat. Biking would be a great way to explore the area before catching the train for the ride home.

The California State Trailroad Museum
This trip was about trains and I was excited to return to Sacramento and the California State Railroad Museum. No stuffy train graveyard, the Museum is an immense, state-of-the-art experience. It begins with a short movie about the railroad in California and ends with a surprise that I won’t spoil but I think you’ll be as astonished as I was. During the school year  groups of students move from exhibit to exhibit in the company of actors and volunteers in historical costumes who pose as engineers, servers, cooks and more.
Inside the California State Train Museum, Capitol Corridor, Trip Wellness

Inside the California State Train Museum

The place is stunning and cavernous. The lighting sets up drama from dioramas of Chinese immigrants working along tracks to the many polished engines in all their bold glory.
Pullman Car, California State Train Museum, trip wellness
Don’t miss walking through the train cars!
  • The sleeper car rocks as you walk along a first class passageway.
  • The dining car is a tribute to every train line – each table is set with china stamped with logos and menus.
  • The kitchen mannequins can be spied from different vantage points.

You’ll return to the gallery hall with a sense of what life was like on the railroad. It wasn’t all glory however, there were racial divides, women held few jobs and the hours were often brutally long. That’s all preserved and the perspective can only help to keep those inequities, or worse, from happening again.

During WWII women took on many jobs on the railroad. Capitol Corridor, trip wellness

During WWII women took on many jobs on the railroad.

I had only a few hours to explore the area and it wasn’t enough time. When you venture to Sacramento along the Capitol Corridor plan to spend a few days in the area. There’s lots see and do year round.
Entrance to Old Town, Sacramento, Capitol Corridor, trip wellness

Close to the train station you’ll find the pedestrian walkway between Old Town and downtown.

This year Amtrak is rolling out Train Days across the country and Sacramento is one of the stops. On June 6th and 7th the State Museum offers FREE admission, special guests, the Reasons to Ride exhibit and the Chuggington Kids Depot.
If you go:
  • The Sacramento Station is being renovated to it’s old glory and earthquake upgrades should be done by 2016. Expect some scaffolding but the station is still open and comfortable.
  • There are many special offers on the Capitol Corridor site each season. Seniors have a mid-week fare. When you have five friends along on weekends with one paid full adult fare, they can ride for only $5.
  • If Sacramento is just one stop on your trip, check your suitcase into the station attendant for $5 and take off to explore the city without the baggage.
  • Don’t miss Old Town and the Riverfront district. It’s virtually across the street from the station and the walk takes you past remnants of the original Chinatown. Don’t miss the underground tunnel with a long historic time-line mural about the growth of the area.
  • Ride in grand old style: Take a 45 minute Excursion ride along the waterfront from April 4 to September 27th. Experience closed coach cars, open-air gondolas and a first-class observation car pulled by vintage diesel locomotives from the Museum’s collection.
Thank you to Capitol Corridor and Amtrak teams, Visit Sacramento and the California State Railroad Museum for a great day exploring train travel. Opinions, as always, are my own.