A Non-Traditional Thanksgiving Train Ride to Santa Barbara

This Thanksgiving my wife decided we would do something different with our young boys.  Forget about cooking and gorging ourselves in the comfort of our own home.  Forget about the relatives and the cleaning.  Forget about football games and carving.  We took the train to Santa Barbara!

Now taking the train from Camarillo to Santa Barbara is not exactly cheap.  For a family of 4, reserved coach seats put me out $108 round trip.  But this was about the experience of riding the train, not saving money.  (That said, it was definitely nice not worrying about parking and paying for parking in Santa Barbara!)

The Camarillo train station is at 30 Lewis Road. Parking was free. Taking the train was an adventure for us clueless suburbanite autobots used to our cars. We nearly missed the train because we didn't know which side of the train tracks to wait at.  Thinking our train would be on the east track, a more savvy individual informed us the other side was closed. So we literally ran up the path back to the other side with one gal who also had been waiting for the train. The train came a few minutes later and we hopped on.

We sat down near the gal who had run with us. Minutes later the ticket collector came by and it quickly became apparent she had no ticket for the train. My wife and I looked over and without discussion, we whipped out $20 to pay for her ticket. A small Thanksgiving good deed.

The train ride went by quickly. It was definitely a fun experience as we rode through Oxnard, Ventura, Carpinteria and took in sights of the Pacific Ocean.  In about an hour we were in Santa Barbara.

So this is what we did the rest of the day, leading up to a 7 pm return train ride:

  • Rented a quad bike at Wheel Fun Rentals on State Street
  • Rode the quad through Chase Palm Park up Cabrillo Boulevard past the lagoon to Stella Mare's Restaurant for a 1pm Thankgiving feast.  Let me tell you, my wife and I were READY to eat after burning off calories on that bike!
  • Enjoyed a 3 course Thanksgiving meal.  The main course options were (of course) turkey, prime rib and salmon.  I had the salmon and it melted in my mouth.  The rest of the crew had turkey and it was delicious.
  • We burned some calories in the 70 degree weather by riding the quad back, stopping by Chase Palm Park, running around at the playground and visiting the carousel.

  • Hung out by the beach near the pier, dipped our toes in the water, walked onto the pier for ice cream and headed back up State Street.
  • Walked up State Street and had a snack at Baja Sharkeez, walked back to the train station, played Red Light, Green Light, Simon Says, Tag and other games until the train arrived.

What an unbelievably beautiful day it was!  There was not a cloud in the sky. The temperature was in the low 70s.  There were NO CROWDS in Santa Barbara!  I have to thank my wife for starting what may well be a new tradition for us!

And I ended the day tired...and HUNGRY! Yes, believe it or not, I think we actually burned off more calories than we consumed! What a great feeling!