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How to Explore Southern California with Metrolink

Southern California has a seemingly endless variety of exciting destinations for families to visit . But the biggest question is, “How will you get there?”

Metrolink is making it easy and affordable for families to get out and explore SoCal. With its new Kids Ride Free on Weekends fare, and adult tickets just $10 for a system-wide day pass on weekends, a family of eight can enjoy a weekend adventure for only $20. The best part? No battling freeway traffic or paying for parking when you get there!

As we all venture out again, Metrolink is expanding its service beyond its commuter schedule to include more weekend and evening trains to accommodate families and others traveling for leisure – all lines except Riverside offer weekend service. Now, families can make the most of what our beautiful region has to offer.

photo collage of families on the train text reads Explore Socal on Metrolink

My Experience Riding the Ventura Line on a Saturday

I was invited to experience the new Saturday service on the Ventura County line. It was the first time this train had operated on a Saturday, and it was the first time I’d been on a train in several years. I really enjoyed it!

Because the train was going to take passengers from the Ventura area into downtown Los Angeles, I needed to get myself up to Moorpark to get on board. I drove up early Saturday morning and got there with plenty of time to spare.

Metrolink Ticket machine at the Moorpark Station
Metrolink Ticket machine at the Moorpark Station

Moorpark Station

The Moorpark station is on the smaller side, so it took me a minute to find it, but if you know the area this wouldn’t be a problem. There were two large, free parking areas on either side of the tracks, which I was happy to see.

The station itself offers a couple of ticket vending machines, signs and schedules posted with a small amount of shade for cover while you wait. First-time station visitors should be forewarned that this station is outdoors and there’s no restroom on-site, which is good for future riders to know.

As we waited for the train, I introduced myself to a large family who was heading into Downtown Los Angeles for the day. From the youngest to the eldest, all three generations of this family were all excited to be riding and exploring a new destination. They had come from Ventura County to catch the train in Moorpark. This  saved them a ton of time on the road (most likely in multiple vehicles). Here, they could hang out together instead.

I also met a woman who planned to travel across the region all the way from Moorpark to Claremont to visit family, after transferring at Union Station. Instead of driving herself, she was able to spend time knitting and watching television on her iPad.

multi-generational family heading into Downtown LA on the Saturday Train
This family was heading into Downtown LA on the Saturday Train

Riding the Train into Los Angeles Union Station

Once on the train, I found the cars to be very clean and I felt very comfortable keeping social distance. Metrolink told me that their Clean Care Crew thoroughly disinfects the train cars before every new ride. 

I spent my time watching the scenery outside the window and catching up on some work as we headed into Los Angeles. 

There were some tables on the train with seats facing each other, and there were several families and groups using them to play cards or set up snacks.

Woman seated at a table by a window on the Metrolink train
This is me, ready to work and watch the scenery on the Metrolink Ventura Line

Here are some of my favorite sights from our trip:

  • 1. The Santa Susana Pass, which felt like something out of an old Western movie
  • 2. Multiple horse stables along the tracks
  • 3. A movie studio lot with a large “false front” of a building
  • 4. The various stations along the line, including the large parking area and park by the Simi Valley station
  • 5. There’s a train stop right at The Burbank Airport, just steps away from the terminal
  • 6. A beautiful station in Glendale (which in my opinion puts many other train stops to shame)
  • 7. Some very cool graffiti on buildings as you get close to Union Station

Arriving at Union Station was awesome, as it has always felt to me. I love seeing the historical parts of Los Angeles, and this main train station is one of my favorite destinations. I enjoyed a quick visit to this beautiful place which has been made newly famous as the hosting site of this year’s Academy Awards ceremony. Then, I headed back to the train to catch the return trip to Moorpark. 

(Note that the normal return trip would leave downtown at 4 p.m., but this was a special quick visit.)

Mother and Daughter riding the train and enjoying an activity together
Mother and Daughter riding the train and enjoying an activity together, photo courtesy of Metrolink and used with permission

What if you could go someplace with your family and spend time with them on the way – instead of fighting traffic, getting distracted by navigating, or breaking up fights in the back seat? That’s the beauty of riding a Metrolink train. Someone else is in charge of getting you to your destination; you just get to enjoy the ride. Here are some other benefits of taking Metrolink on a family adventure, this summer:

1. You won’t be paying for (or hunting around for) parking once you arrive. For example, in downtown Los Angeles this could cost you an extra $25.

2. You don’t need to use GPS or Siri to find your destination.

3. There’s no traffic to worry about. In fact, cars have to stop for the trains.

4. You’ll be able to play with your kids while you’re on the trip. Read your kids a story, play a game of Go-Fish, watch a video together on your phone, or even better – watch the scenery go by together and have a conversation about it. All of these things are possible on the train.

5. You can let your kids be kids. It’s hard being stuck in a car seat for some kids, and riding the train means they can move around and “get the wiggle out.” Personally, I’d let kids jump and climb on the seats (unless they’re bothering other passengers, of course). Trust me: it’ll help them have a better time – and then so will you.

6. Metrolink’s “Kids Ride Free Weekend” deal. This alone is a huge benefit to families, but you can add to it the fact that adult tickets are only $10 on weekends, and you start to experience big savings.

7. You can use these savings to get a yummy lunch while you’re out exploring.

clean interior of the Metrolink train Ventura line
Super clean interior of the Metrolink train Ventura line

Whether you’re a train novice or a train pro –  before embarking on your railway journey,  here are a few things you should know:

1. There’s free parking at all Metrolink stations (with the exception of Union Station in downtown LA), and there seems to be plenty of it.

2. As previously mentioned, not all Metrolink stations offer restrooms, so plan ahead. There are restrooms on the trains themselves so you’ll just have to wait until you get onboard.

3. Seats face both directions, so you can choose to sit facing either backwards or forwards  There are also a few groupings of four seats in each car, some with a table in-between and some not. It’s a terrific option for families or for anyone who wants to set up a temporary work station.

4. Some seats have electrical outlets nearby for charging or powering your devices, but not all. If having access to power outlets is something that’s important to you, you’ll need to scope that out before settling in for the ride. You can either ask any Metrolink employee onboard to help you find the outlets, or try looking along the walls and underneath the tables.

5. There are entire cars devoted to carrying bicycles. They’re perfect for a family with a large stroller, or for those heading out for a fun group bike ride themselves.

6. There are water fountains and water bottle filling stations on the train cars, so you can fill up while on board. Stay hydrated! 

7. Pay attention to the train schedule. Metrolink trains are known for being on time, and they will not wait for you if you are late. Get to the station early when you head out, and you can even set an alarm on your phone so you’ll get back to the station in plenty of time to catch your return trip. Download the Metrolink app for up-to-date schedules and to buy tickets online, and follow Metrolink on Twitter for the most accurate service updates. 

Inside the Great Hall at Union Station
Inside the Great Hall at Union Station

What to do When You Get There – Places to Explore

As mentioned above, the entire Southern California region offers so much for families to do and see, and our website is devoted to letting you know all the fun things out there. What’s great is that we already have lists of things to do when you get to most of the destinations Metrolink travels.

In fact, many fun family destinations are within walking, rideshare, or local bus distance from Metrolink stops.

What to Do in Downtown Los Angeles

Since the Metrolink Ventura line now goes into Union Station every Saturday, here’s a partial list of Things to do in Downtown LA. Click over to read our post about it with more details on each spot.

  • 1. Visit the Central Library
  • 2. Get a delicious lunch or snacks at Grand Central Market
  • 3. Explore Olvera Street, the birthplace of Los Angeles
  • 4. Take a tour of the Bradbury Building, location for many movies
  • 5. Shop at the Last Bookstore, an awesome place to see and shop
  • 6. Play in Grand Park and see LA City Hall
  • 7. Take the kids to the Broad Museum and walk around the Music Center
  • 8. Visit Clifton’s Cafeteria, even if you don’t eat there, because the décor is perfect for kids
  • 9. Walk through Union Station and pretend you’re on the Red Carpet at the Oscars!

Whatever you do, we hope you and your family have fun riding  Metrolink.

The Metrolink Ventura Line Train stopped at Union Station in Downtown Los Angeles
The Metrolink Ventura Line Train stopped at Union Station in Downtown Los Angeles

Sarah Auerswald is the co-Founder of MomsLA.com. She was invited to experience the inaugural Saturday trip on the Metrolink Ventura line. This is a sponsored post, in partnership with Metrolink. All opinions are my own. Some photos were provided by Metrolink and they are marked as such and used with permission. All others are property of MomsLA.

Disclaimer: MomsLA has made every effort to confirm the information in this article; however, things can often change. Therefore, MomsLA makes no representations or warranties about the accuracy of the information published here. MomsLA strongly urges you to confirm any event details, like date, time, location, and admission, with the third party hosting the event. You assume the sole risk of relying on any of the information in our list. MomsLA is in no way responsible for any injuries or damages you sustain while attending any third party event posted on our website. Please read our Terms of Use which you have agreed to based on your continued use of this website. Some events have paid to be listed on MomsLA.

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