Magazine article Sunset

Sacramento by Train ... for the Day

Magazine article Sunset

Sacramento by Train ... for the Day

Article excerpt

AFTER A 30-YEAR hiatus, daily round trip train service between the Bay Area and Sacramento is back. Amtrak's Capitol is the first new intercity train service funded by California's 1990 rail bond issue (Proposition 116).

For commuters fighting the tedious, traffic-laden drive on Interstate 80, its appeal is obvious (though the fare $23 each way between San Jose and Sacramento--may be too steep for regular use).

But the Capitol also makes a relaxing, scenic day trip to Sacramento's key sights. Now through April 9, you can take advantage of a $24 round-trip fare good for same-day travel. Ages 2 through 15 always ride half-price.

Once you get off the train in Sacramento, the roughly 2mile walking tour outlined on the map below takes you past the restored 1874 capitol and its surrounding park awash in spring blooms, to Old Sacramento and the remarkable state railroad museum.

RIDING THE RAILS

The Capitol's main route runs from San Jose to Sacramento in 3 hours and 20 minutes, edging San Francisco Bay and then traveling past green hills and valley orchards. Stops include Amtrak's main Oakland station (at 16th and Wood streets), Berkeley (Third Street and University Avenue), Richmond (BART connects here), Martinez, Suisun-Fairfield, and Davis. The last train continues to Roseville.

The train features newish (1989) single-level cars with wide windows. Trips run through mealtimes, so plan on buying Amtrak's standard sandwiches, snacks, and drinks in the cafe car, or bring a train picnic--permitted as long as you eat at your seat. Before boarding the train in Sacramento for your return trip, you can stock up at K Tomatoes Deli, 316 K Street, on the mall not far from the station.

Eastbound trains depart San Jose at 6:35 A.M. and 12:10 and 5:10 PM. Westbound trains depart Sacramento at 7:15 A.M. and 11:40 and 5:05 PM.; for details on stops between, call (800) 872-7245. Buses at Oakland connect to San Francisco's Transbay Transit Terminal.

You can buy tickets on the train. Segments are less than full-route fare; for example, the regular price from Oakland to Sacramento is $16.

OFF THE TRAIN, WALK FROM ROTUNDA TO RIVER

Downtown Sacramento is ideal for walking--it's flat, and it's laid out on a grid so it's difficult to get lost. In the recent past, developers bypassed downtown, leaving untouched a legacy of massive old trees and graceful offices and houses.

Four years ago, wary of the dowdy office buildings Sacramento was saddled with in the 1950s, city planners unveiled a Central Business District Urban Design Plan to save the best old buildings and make sure new ones would boast some style. …

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