Tag Archives: downtown

Sacramento, CA

Of Interest: downtown Sacramento, old Sacramento

Lodging: yes

Tourist Office: no

There are two hotels close to Sacramento Station, but the city makes it a little hard to walk there. The hotels are in front of the station to the right, but to cross the street in front of station, you have to go left from the station. In fact, to get to those hotels, you have to cross the street three times. You have to cross the street to the left of the station then cross the street in front of the station then cross the street that is to left of the station again (this time going right). Are you lost yet? You need to cross the street in the crosswalk because cars drive on and off the highway on this street, and you need the lights AND the crosswalk to keep from dying horribly.

(In California, cars are required to stop for pedestrians in crosswalks. This doesn’t actually help pedestrians since crosswalks are often badly placed. Remember you must have [indirectly] killed at least one small animal on any significant trip to get any respect.)

Once you have crossed the street, just walk along the street that runs in front of the station until you see the first one, a motel. In back of that is a Denny’s and in back of that is a Holiday Inn.

Luckily, the hotels.com page for Sacramento is accurate as long as you can find the link to the Sacramento Amtrak station under the landmarks list. (They are getting better. Near the Holiday Inn, there is an underpass to Old Sacramento (see picture). There are some historic buildings and a railway museum here.

Walking left from the station will take you downtown which also has its fair share of historic buildings, although this area is further away from the station than Old Sacramento. There is a mall right next to the station. You will see it during the twenty minutes you spend crossing the street.

Oh, one of Sacramento’s light rail lines stops at the station. No one knows where it goes. I know because somebody asked. The cars are empty. (Gee I wonder why.)

Sacramento is the last stop for most Capitol Corridor trains. It is three hours from San Jose and two hours from Berkeley. The route is beautiful and environmentally friendly too. There is one Capitol Corridor train daily to and from Auburn which is about an hour away. Also the California Zephyr (to Reno, Salt Lake City, Denver, and Chicago) and the Coast Starlight also stop here daily. Both these trains also cover the Capitol Corridor route.

The San Joaquin has twice daily service to and from Stockton (an hour away) and Bakersfield (three and a half hours) with bus connections to Los Angeles.

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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.

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.