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Santa Barbara Vino Train - Los Angeles to Santa Barbara Round Trip

Santa Barbara Vino Train

Los Angeles to Santa Barbara Round Trip

October 23, 2010

Text and Photos by Carl Morrison,

Here is an excellent listing, available on the Overland Trail private car, of all the important details:

There are a number of options in getting to the Los Angeles Union Station by 7:15 a.m. for the departure of Amtrak Surfliner # 799 which takes Bill and Debbie Hatrick's Overland Trail to Santa Barbara.  I've taken the Amtrak Bus from Fullerton to LAUS, but it arrives a bit earlier than I want to be there.

This trip on the Santa Barbara Vino Train, my traveling buddy, Don Roe, and I drove to LAUS.  We left Placentia, in Orange County, about 6:15 a.m., driving north on the 57 Fwy. to 60 West to LA, connecting to Hwy. 101 to downtown.  We exited Vignes St. and took a left, about 1/2 block from the freeway, directly into the Parking Garage.  We parked on the same level on which we entered and walked directly into the tunnel and up the ramp to Track 10 where the Overland Trail awaited us.  There were already many guests waiting to board as they talked with owner Bill Hatrick.

(Click any photo below for a double-sized image;  Click BACK in your browser to return to this page.)

Don Roe excitedly awaits his first Santa Barbara Vino Train trip on the Overland Trail.

We boarded the Overland Trail through the vestibule of the adjacent Amtrak car.  With no exterior stairs, the Overland Trail has more room for seating.

Ol' 507 still leads this single-level, early-morning train to San Luis Obispo each day.

Before we board, the excellent staff prepares our buffet breakfast, and the car, for our arrival, having started their day about 4 a.m.

A view through the window will bring back memories of the passenger trains in the 50s with the vintage lamps, drapes, and venitian blinds.

On the adjacent tracks, you will probably see other Pacific Surfliners ready for their departures to San Diego and Santa Barbara a little later in the day.

Bill and Don meet for the first time.

Bill discusses the day's plans with the Wine Guide, Tom Anderson.

Guests settle in and get acquainted upon our departure, before the breakfast buffet is ready.

From the opposite end of the car, one can see the seating arrangement for up to 32 reserve early.

Soon after our departure, Bill grabs the vintage microphone and gives some history of the car and explains the serving order for the guests.  The staff delivers drinks so that guests do not have to navigate the car while in route.

Bill giving some history of the car and details about the breakfast.

(Right)  Christy Hatrick prepares waffles at the end of the buffet line.

The Overland Trail is unique in many ways.  I thought there must surely be a chef on board, but one of Bill and Debbie's daughters takes care of the breakfast and dinner preparation. One of the staff explained that she studied under other train chefs and is able to prepare the excellent two meals each trip.  

The menu, which has changed since my last trip, is excellent.  Merlot, Chardonnay, and Cabernet Sauvignon wines are included in the trip price and available with dinner.

Another thing unique about the Overland Trail, compared to other private rail cars, is that others are usually on slow-moving tourist trains and they do not cover many miles per trip.  The Overland Trail travels at Amtrak speed and can go anywhere in the United States that Amtrak goes.  This means that Overland Trail guests get to see the most scenic parts of the US, such as part of this trip,  "The Longest Ocean-View Train Ride in America" (between Ventura and Santa Barbara).

It was overcast on the way north, but much sunnier on the way back (right).

Soon we arrived in Santa Barbara, detrained from the Overland Trail, as other riders boaded for their round trip from Santa Barbara to San Luis Obispo while we were in Santa Barbara.

The Overland Trail in Santa Barbara.

The rest of the Amtrak #799 consist.

The 'Cabbage Car' trailed the train north to to SLO, as our group, right, headed for the Santa Barbara Winery.

Tom gathers the wine tasters.

Tom (white jacket) can lead you to local wine tasting rooms.  He follows the map (click here) of the Urban Wine Trail all within walking distance of the Station.  Or, you can strike out on your own.

Santa Barbara Winery

First Stop:  Santa Barbara Winery

Kunin Wines

Second Stop:  Kunin

Beside the Kunin Tasting Room is this sign (below) directing you down the walkway to Municipal Wine Makers.

Municipal Wine Makers

Oreana Winery and Marketplace

Wine barrel heads were used througthout their 'marketplace' some as tables for customers and others for sale (above).

I left the group at this point and headed for Stearns Wharf, passing some interesting sights along south State Street.

The very end of the Stearns Wharf is a good place to photograph flying Pelicans and Sea Gulls.

Local seafood

Eye to eye.

Joe's for lunch.

Across from the Santa Barbara Hotel.

After shopping on State Street, I returned to the Station about 4 pm for the 4:31 departure.  The station has free wi-fi and ample benches for weary travellers.
(Right)  Lead by the 'Cabbage' car, #792 pulls into Santa Barbara from San Luis Obispo about 4:35 to pick us up for the return to Los Angeles.

We waited for the SLO-SB passengers to detrain before boarding.

(Right)  Some passengers were dressed in vintage outfits.

A quick glance toward the pier as we crossed State St.

(Right)  Wine Guide, Tom Anderson, made me some "Carl'sNotSoBad White Zinfandel" a few months ago.  He surprised me by bringing, chilling, and serving me a bottle on the way back to Los Angeles.

"View from the Vino Train"

Oceanside window seat view from Santa Barbara to Los Angeles

The Ventura River runs under the tracks and into the Pacific Ocean on the west side of the city of Ventura.

Wine, the Pacific Ocean, and a ride on the vintage Overland Trail private rail car,


Don't miss out on this opportunity to take a great, economical, excursion to a beautiful Mediterranean-like Southern California city, or other trips outside of California,

Go to, or e-mail Bill or Debbie at, or Call LA Rail today at 800-539-7245.

For Example:  Each year Bill and Debbie run their WORLD WAR II TROOP TRAIN to San Diego:

When you contact LA Rail, please tell Debbie or Bill that you heard about them through

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