More info on Thanksgiving trains

Justin Nelson gives some information about train schedules over the holidays on his blog “Riding in Riverside“. I checked, and he is right. Each Metrolink line is running its own schedule for both Thanksgiving and New Year’s. No Metrolink trains will run on Christmas. No extra trains are being run today. Special promotions are in effect for Thanksgiving weekend. For example, round trip tickets are good for the whole weekend.

Metrolink monthly passes will only be accepted by the Pacific Surfliner on Friday. The Surfliner will run on a weekend schedule all holidays as will the Capitol Corridor. The Capitol Corridor is running an extra train to San Jose today using CalTrain equipment.

After Thanksgiving, Santa will be visiting Metrolink Stations on weekends from now until Christmas.

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another bookstore

My last post included the Tattered Cover Bookstore in Denver. A commenter mentioned another bookstore, the Elliot Bay Book Company in Seattle, WA which is also within walking distance of Amtrak trains. The King Street Station also serves Souter Commuter Rail.

If you are thinking of taking Amtrak to or from Seattle this Thanksgiving weekend, you might want to book ahead. Booking ahead is also a good idea if you are thinking of going to Vancouver in December or January. Coach is 25% off for non-holiday travel booked before the end of the year.

Denver, CO

Of Interest: downtown Denver, Coors Field, Tattered Cover bookstore, Denver Performing Arts Center, local and intercity buses, light rail

Tourist Office: Yes, at 16th and California

Hotels: multiple (mostly expensive, most about twenty minutes walk or more)

Denver’s Union Station is on the edge of dowtown Denver, and is on one end of a free shuttle ride that will take you all the way Colorado’s Capitol building. You are probably going to have to take this shuttle to get to your hotel or to the tourist information office. The tourist information office is about a half hour walk from the station, and the closest hotel is about a fifteen minute walk.

Almost all of Denver’s downtown attractions are on or visible from the 16th Street Mall, the pedestrian route that is served by the free shuttle. The Tattered Cover is one of the largest independent booksellers in the US, and their downtown location is about ten minutes from Union Station. The Denver Center for the Performing Arts on 14th and Curtis is visible from 16th Street. The DCPA is also served by the D, F, H, and D light rail lines.

The C and E lines serve the station as well as a couple of locations that are not easy to walk to, like Mile High Stadium.  All light rail lines head into the south Denver Metro area.

It is a fifteen minute walk in a different direction to Coors Field, the home of the Colorado Rockies. The walk will take you past a lot of sports bars, and a couple of art galleries. To get to this baseball field, walk left from the main exit of the station.

What to eat near LA’s Metro

The Source is the blog of the LA Metro. Yesterday Fred Camino published a post about eating near the Gold Line. It is an excellent post. Every light rail line should have something similar.

Grand Junction, CO

Of Interest: downtow Grand Junction

Lodging: by shuttle bus

Tourist Office: no, but there is a map on the wall and a shop selling local products

I went through Grand Junction recently on a trip from California to Denver. Grand Junction is a smoke stop, and we were a little early, so I was able to walk around a little. The station is near the edge of downtown, at an angle so you can’t really see anything. From the station it looks like a typical midwestern town except that you don’t get to most midwestern town by going through some of the most beautiful trains in the world.

There is a shop selling locally made products, including a two volume guide book to the California Zephyr, the route that serves this stop. (Right now a couple of people on Amazon are selling one as a collectible for about $100.) On the other end of the station is a nice restaurant. Please dress well to go here and the women all are very nicely made up.

Two local Marriott  hotels have ads in the station. Call the number of the one that you want to stay at, and the hotel will send a shuttle. They are right next to each other about four miles away.

Trains in both directions arrive during the day. Both Denver and Salt Lake City are about eight hours away in opposite directions. The California Zephyr will also take you to Chicago and the San Francisco Bay area and multiple points in between.

Side effects of riding the train

My mother’s uncle became a dairy farmer after seeing dairy cows out the window on the train from New York to New Haven early last century. He then convinced my grandfather (his sister’s husband) to switch from raising chickens to raising dairy cows.

(This train, now called the Northeast Regional, still runs from New York to Boston.)

San Jose, CA

Of Interest: downtown San Jose, historic San Jose, HP Pavilion

Lodging: yes

Tourist Office: No

San Jose Diridon Station is a major rail hub. Amtrak’s Capitol Corridor stops several times a day while the once daily Coast Starlight connects San Jose to Los Angeles to the south and Portland and Seattle to the north. Both lines take about three hours to get to Sacramento after passing through Oakland and Berkeley. It is the terminus for both the Caltrain and the Altamont Commuter Express. The former takes about an hour to get to San Francisco International Airport and two hours to get into San Francisco itself. Express trains that run during rush hour only take an hour to get to San Francisco. Trains are frequent during rush hour. Frequency drops to once an hour during the middle of the day and on weekends. The ACE runs a two hour route to Stockton. Three trains come into San Jose in the morning and three trains go back out to Stockton in the evening.

Santa Clara County’s light rail system, the VTA has a separate platform behind the station and another station within walking distance. The VTA will be operating a historic trolley on Saturday afternoon in December.

The station was renamed the Diridon Station in 1994 in honor of former Santa Clara County Supervisor Rod Diridon, a long time California rail supporter.

The station is close to two hotels. The Arena is a budget hotel to the west of the hotel. The Hotel De Anza is to the east and is much more luxurious. It is often a good value compared to other downtown hotels. The Hotel De Anza is on the edge of downtown, and there are many more hotels, most expensive, within walking distance. Likewise there are other budget hotels and motels further to the east beyond The Arena.

Downtown San Jose is home to large office buildings as well as several museums. Local festivals are also held in the area as well as a farmers’ market every Friday from May to the middle of December.