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California day trip destination?

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Alice

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I have to take a trip very soon or lose close to 20,000 points. I can always drive to Davis and take the train to Sacramento or Martinez (Davis has better parking than SAC). But I could also drive an extra half hour to Stockton and take the train to either Antioch or Fresno, two places I've stopped in a car but not a train. Both Antioch and Fresno look like there are interesting places to visit near the station. Any local knowledge to confirm or deny that, or suggest other destinations?
 

caravanman

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I don't know how "points" work exactly... Could you use them to book an unwanted trip, cancel that trip, and so extend the effective life of the "points" for a time you actually want to go on a train? Maybe the Corona virus relaxation of some cancellation rules might help?
What distance, or what $ value fare can you exchange your points for?
 
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anumberone

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I have to take a trip very soon or lose close to 20,000 points. I can always drive to Davis and take the train to Sacramento or Martinez (Davis has better parking than SAC). But I could also drive an extra half hour to Stockton and take the train to either Antioch or Fresno, two places I've stopped in a car but not a train. Both Antioch and Fresno look like there are interesting places to visit near the station. Any local knowledge to confirm or deny that, or suggest other destinations?
I don't know anything about using points. 20,000 points will only get you to those close destinations, Stockton to Fresno, Davis to Sacramento? Or am I missing something.
 

AmtrakBlue

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I don't know anything about using points. 20,000 points will only get you to those close destinations, Stockton to Fresno, Davis to Sacramento? Or am I missing something.
She only wants to take a day trip. She does not need to use all her points, just some of them to keep her points from expiring.
 

AmtrakBlue

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Alice, I think Amtrak has extended expiration dates for AGR points, but I'm not positive.
 

Devil's Advocate

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Could you use them to book an unwanted trip, cancel that trip, and so extend the effective life of the "points" for a time you actually want to go on a train?
No. She needs real activity and not fake activity. There are other means to reset the clock but I don't think that's the point of her post.

I don't know anything about using points. 20,000 points will only get you to those close destinations, Stockton to Fresno, Davis to Sacramento? Or am I missing something.
She has enough points to travel much further but on September 25th the amnesty period ends and points will start expiring again.
 
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anumberone

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Well, walking around Antioch, or Fresno near a train station is most likely sketchy, even during daylight hours, Don't know if I'd trade points for that unless you like walking on the wild side. How many points are we talking about.
 

Bob Dylan

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Well, walking around Antioch, or Fresno near a train station is most likely sketchy, even during daylight hours, Don't know if I'd trade points for that unless you like walking on the wild side. How many points are we talking about.
I know you know Alice, but for those that haven't done day trips in the Sacramento Area:

Stockton is even sketchier than Fresno. 😷

Davis is a much better place, great little College town!🥰
 

jamess

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Theres plenty to see in downtown Fresno walking distance from the train station, although many of the unique businesses may be closed due to COVID.

Id walk a block up to City Hall, and then take Mariposa Mall west to Fulton. Then walk north on Fulton to the Cultural Arts Park, and then back down along Fulton to Inyo, where there are a number of breweries with outdoor seating.

If you have more time, the Fresno Zoo is well worth a visit, but would require a short bus or cab ride (unless you have a bike).
 

jiml

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As the grace periods and extensions expire on frequent flier/train miles, hotel points, etc., a lot of us will be facing similar questions.
 

Steve4031

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I would go with a round trip to Bakersfield to get more train time. Or a round trip to San Jose. I’m assuming there is service on the corridors that allows this. Not sure what’s going on with COVID service reductions.
 

anumberone

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I think Amtrak to Yosemite is running now. It's a combination trip, San Joaquin train to Merced and bus to Yosemite which is a very scenic ride.
 

Alice

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Let's see, lots of good info in your responses.

20,000 points is good for a pretty long one way sleeper trip on the Coast Starlight, so I'm saving them. The minimum 750 points is not worth using for the low-priced trip day trip I'm talking about here.

The last Amtrak I took was the east coast gathering in 2018 so I'm already taking into account the extension. I'm going camping starting the end of next week so this weekend or early next week is better. With the weekend heat spell, probably next week actually.

Both the Antioch and Fresno stations are downtown in the old sections, near city halls, art deco theaters, murals, and such. At least on maps. These are not likely to be daytime ghost towns. I've been to both by car but not train. Of course lots of places are safe in the car but not on foot. The Tower District (for the restored Tower Theater) in Fresno is a real gem and a blast at night but I haven't been there during daylight in ages.

Stockton is even sketchier than Fresno. 😷

Davis is a much better place, great little College town!
Davis is boring! They have planted too many earthtone houses and apartments in the fields! When I want to stop along I-80 now I go to Dixon or old Suisun (which has the It's It factory outlet a block from the station), or detour up to Woodland and skip Sacramento on the way home.

I'm a little leery of parking my car in Stockton. The thing is, there is no longer any train between Sacramento and Stockton, just buses. The San Joaquins head west from Stockton and meet the Cap Corridors in Martinez. If I want to go south, I need to drive to Stockton (2 hours), Antioch (2 1/2 hrs), or Martinez (3 hrs). I usually park at Martinez for long trips but it would really cut into the day for this trip. Of course, the most sensible thing is to park at Davis (1 hr 40 min) or Sacramento (1 1/2 hr) and take a Cap Corridor. I'd rather go someplace new.

Theres plenty to see in downtown Fresno walking distance from the train station, although many of the unique businesses may be closed due to COVID.

Id walk a block up to City Hall, and then take Mariposa Mall west to Fulton. Then walk north on Fulton to the Cultural Arts Park, and then back down along Fulton to Inyo, where there are a number of breweries with outdoor seating.

If you have more time, the Fresno Zoo is well worth a visit, but would require a short bus or cab ride (unless you have a bike).
I agree about the Fresno Zoo. That is a bit far for this trip. I've made note of the walking tour you suggest. I think I'll look at the buses between Sacramento and Stockton, maybe I can figure a way to park at Sac instead of Stockton, take the bus one way to get on a San Joaquin, then get a train back through Martinez, or the other way around. Then I wouldn't be tempted to park in Stockton.

Do you live near Fresno? I'm a huge fan of Simonian Farms, Best Raisins Anywhere!, plus old farm equipment and caboose outside the store, a vintage model train running around the rafters inside, and a shooting gallery that also has old time candy and Fresno State ice cream.

Or, you could also have a Hopefully short stop in Lodi.
Anumberone, I know you are joking but I actually like Lodi and it is on the way to Stockton when I'm driving. Besides the wineries, there are some creameries making fine cheeses.

I would go with a round trip to Bakersfield to get more train time. Or a round trip to San Jose. I’m assuming there is service on the corridors that allows this. Not sure what’s going on with COVID service reductions.
I looked at the schedule for Stockton to Bakersfield and it does not leave much time for the turnaround, 15 minutes. That is okay if it is the same train, or I could get off a station early if running late. Sacramento to San Jose has a one hour layover, or 2 1/2 hrs if I wait for the last train. Both of these are good ideas. It has been several years since I've been in either of those stations. As I recall, I'd best carry a picnic.

Usually there are interesting loop trips in central California with some combination of Amtrak, ACE, BART, SF ferry, and CalTrain. I could not get any such schedule to work. There are not even enough trains to take SAC-MTZ-FNO-MTZ-SAC unless I get up really early and mix with the commuters.

Does anyone have local knowledge about how safe parking is in Stockton? My car is full of camping gear I'm not going to remove. This is still a staffed station. Parking there would sure simplify things.
 

Bob Dylan

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Thanks for the update on Davis Alice, it's been 3 years since my last visit, so I wasnt up to date on what they were doing to Davis.(".. pave Paradise, put up a Parking Lot..")

As for Stockton, it was a Ghost town last time I was there ( last Fall).When I rode the Ambus between the old SP Station( Ace from San Jose) and the old Santa Fe Station, downtown had people on the streets and a few businesses were open, but around the SP Station it was wierd with the almost deserted Chinatown houses and businesses between downtown and the Santa Fe Station where lots of Street people and panhandlers hanging around.

The Agent @ the Santa Fe Station told me that it wasnt Safe to walk that stretch, day or night.

The parking lots @ both Stations were full, I'm guessing it was mostly Commuters for San Jose and Martinez and Emeryville, as the Ace Train I rode from San Jose was Full and the one to Emeryville @ 6pm was almost empty.( I haven't seen the current schedules so not sure that trip is even possible now?)
 
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anumberone

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Alice, Nice Reading your replies to all the suggestions. I was kidding about Lodi, I really haven't been there since interstate 5 took over the old 99 route North. I'm sure it has changed a lot. I'm impressed with your knowledge of the Valley and since I grew up in that area I'm curious where you live. No need to answer if you think it's inappropriate.
 

Alice

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Anumberone, I live in Oroville now but am up and down the state regularly. Once upon a time I took freeways. But now I have more time so enjoy exploring along the way.
 

Alice

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Jim, if you are on the Coast Starlight, Martinez and Davis are about your only good stops in that area. If you are on the Cap Corridor, though, you'd like Suisun. The Main Street is very close and has too many good Mexican sports bars to choose from. There are also some central American places scattered about, we red neck Californians can't tell the difference you know, but I'm partial to any place with papusas on the menu. And of course It's It ice cream sandwiches, with more flavors in Suisun than at retail places.

You've been to the Stockton stations since me. I was there when ACE was fairly new and I walked between the two stations, pretty empty and boarded up with no sidewalks for a good stretch but no street people.

A full parking lot is a good sign for me.
 

Bob Dylan

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Jim, if you are on the Coast Starlight, Martinez and Davis are about your only good stops in that area. If you are on the Cap Corridor, though, you'd like Suisun. The Main Street is very close and has too many good Mexican sports bars to choose from. There are also some central American places scattered about, we red neck Californians can't tell the difference you know, but I'm partial to any place with papusas on the menu. And of course It's It ice cream sandwiches, with more flavors in Suisun than at retail places.

You've been to the Stockton stations since me. I was there when ACE was fairly new and I walked between the two stations, pretty empty and boarded up with no sidewalks for a good stretch but no street people.

A full parking lot is a good sign for me.
Thanks Alice, next time I'm in the Bay Area I'll check out Suisun!😊 😷
 

bms

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Without taking the train, one can earn Amtrak Guest Rewards points through the Survey Rewards Club. I didn't think the surveys were worth doing in terms of time/points, but perhaps that activity on the account would stop points from expiring?

 

niemi24s

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Without taking the train, one can earn Amtrak Guest Rewards points through the Survey Rewards Club. I didn't think the surveys were worth doing in terms of time/points, but perhaps that activity on the account would stop points from expiring?

Why not call AGR and ask?
 

Alice

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I'm going to take my trip tomorrow. Although I'd really like to go to Fresno or Bakersfield, the predicted temps are pretty high, 103F, with both heat and air quality advisories. The whole central valley has been smoky from all the fires, and has been baking for weeks. Antioch and Martinez are also hot and smoky. Emeryville is the coolest at 89, Berkeley 92. Either would be downright refreshing compared to here, expected to be 111.

I'll also want to be alert to fire conditions, there was a fire last month that took out some of Vacaville and Fairfield, news reports said it closed I-80 so I wouldn't be surprised if it affected the Cap Corridor. A fire just took off in the Sierras above Fresno, that won't affect the train but air will get worse. (Creek Fire for those who follow such things, 150 campers currently trapped at Mammoth Lake.)

My intent is to see what time I get down there and use that to pick a place to park, then head west. I might plan for a quick turnaround so most of my time is on the train, but want to be somewhere I can tolerate the weather in case I miss the connection.
 

Alice

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I think Amtrak to Yosemite is running now. It's a combination trip, San Joaquin train to Merced and bus to Yosemite which is a very scenic ride.
I took this trip once from Ventura, that I won on Train Day in Los Angeles. It included lodgings and some tours in the park. It was in the winter when you have to carry chains in the car, so it was nice not to have to put them on.
 
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