5 Tips for Taking the Train to San Diego
Oceanside is the perfect base-camp location if you’re planning a Southern California trip and want to visit San Diego without dealing with the traffic, parking and overall hustle and bustle of California’s second most populated city.
With a conveniently located Transit Center in the heart of Oceanside’s quaint downtown, side by side with a free multi-story parking structure, getting south towards and into San Diego couldn’t be easier thanks to the Coaster commuter train and Amtrak Pacific Surfliner which run back and forth between both cities. This transportation option offers a unique chance to travel down the beautiful California coast in a relaxing fashion without having to worry about traffic. Sit back and enjoy the views, or take advantage of the extra time and plan out your San Diego itinerary for the day!
Start your journey from the Oceanside Transportation Center
Del Mar Horse Races: July 17th — September 2nd
Looking to check out the famous Del Mar Horse Races? This popular event dates back to 1937, and more than 40,000 race fans are expected to attend this year! Due to its popularity, Amtrak and North County Transit District trains and buses are often the easiest, least expensive way to get to the Del Mar grounds, and are a great way to avoid traffic and parking fees. Start your relaxing journey on either the Amtrak or Coaster trains from the Oceanside Transit Center and stop at Solana Beach station, the closest train stop to the Del Mar grounds. From there a complimentary shuttle service is provided to and from the track, just look for the double-decker buses when you arrive and they will take you the rest of the way!
For those that want an even easier, all in one package, NCTD offers a Pony Express Ticket which combines a “Stretch-run” fair ticket and round-trip Coaster fare all in one! The Pony Express ticket costs $11 and can be purchased online through the Compass Cloud App or at NCTD ticket vending machines at Coaster and Sprinter stations.
Comic-Con: July 18th — 21st
Comic-Con International returns to the San Diego Convention Center as the longest continuously-run comics and popular arts convention in the United States. Thousands will be attending the 5 day event so skip the traffic and astronomical parking fees by taking the Coaster or Surfliner train from Oceanside into downtown San Diego. Starting from Oceanside’s Transit Center, both train options stop at the Santa Fe Train Depot in downtown San Diego, the closest stop to the Convention Center. From there take a brisk 15 minute walk to the Convention Center, hop on the green trolley line for two stops, or ride the free shuttle buses offered for this event.
Consider purchasing the RegionPlus Day Pass for $12 at ticket vending machines or via the Compass Cloud mobile app. These passes cover all-day usage of the Coaster train as well as MTS Trolley and buses.
KAABOO Del Mar Festival: September 13th — September 15th
Music, art, comedy, and food lovers look no further! KAABOO Del Mar Festival is a 3 day extravaganza of world-class artists, comedians and headliner talent performing in north San Diego County. This year’s lineup includes names such as Kings of Leon, Mumford & Sons, Black Eyed Peas, One Republic, Snoop Dog, Wu-Tang Clan, Boyz II Men, and many more! For a full lineup list with the days they are performing visit KAABOO Daily Lineup.
Due to this events popularity, Amtrak Pacific Surfliner and North County Transit District trains and buses are often the easiest, least expensive way to get to the festival grounds, and are a great way to avoid traffic and parking fees. Start your journey on either the Amtrak or Coaster trains from the Oceanside Transit Center and stop at Solana Beach station, the closest train stop to the KAABOO Festival. From there a shuttle service is offered for $7 (each way, cash only) to take you right to the main gates.
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To take the Coaster for a smooth and hassle-free trip to San Diego, consider the following tips for the ride:
1. Determine when you will be traveling
- The first step is to know when you are planning to travel, and use that as a guide when purchasing tickets. Once you have an idea visit NCTD Coaster or look at the detailed Coaster Schedule to help guide your trip planning and purchase your tickets.
2. Know where you will begin your trip from
- Next, check the station from where you want to board. Coaster Station Locations are divided into 3 Zones with a total of 8 stations from where you can board and start your journey. Oceanside’s Transit Center is the northern most station on the Coaster route, and is part of Zone 1.
3. Pre-plan for connecting rides
- There are plenty of options for connecting rides from the Coaster that will get you anywhere you want to go in and around San Diego. Look into options like the Sprinter (rail), MTS Buses, Amtrak (rail), Metrolink (rail), San Diego Trolley and Riverside Transit Buses ahead of time and plan accordingly.
4. Double check the holiday schedule:
- If you are traveling during special holidays and events, the Coaster and its connections may not be available to ride. On Christmas Day, New Years Eve, Thanksgiving Day, Labor Day and Memorial Day the Coaster, Breeze and Sprinter reduce the number of rounds they do and operate for limited hours.
5. Need help?
- If you need assistance navigating the Coaster schedule or planning your San Diego excursion visit the California Welcome Center – Oceanside where one of our knowledgeable volunteers can assist you with any of your questions or concerns. Grab a map, discount attraction tickets and some souvenirs while you’re there!