When in Sacramento

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Joined
Jan 20, 2010
Messages
1,221
Location
S.W. AR.
I've got a trip from CHI - PDX - CHI coming up in Feb. I'm taking CZ CS to PDX then the EB back to Chicago. I've got that layover in SAC. Has anyone been through there lately in the covid era? Are there any restaurants open. I plan on spending some time at the RR museum. Have they made any station improvements since 2014, or built anything interesting or new restaurans around there?. Has anyone ever risked going to Martinez and grabbing a bite and either hanging out there and catch the Capital Corridor back to Sac. Would this be too risky. Are there better places (cheap eats) in Mtz? Any thoughts, hints suggestions or directions are appreciatedThanks in advance. T.W.
 
Joined
Oct 21, 2012
Messages
754
Location
SF Bay Area
Hi. I haven't been to Sacramento in a few months but I live in the Bay Area so a lot of the restrictions in Sacramento are similar or a bit less restrictive. The below are the facts to the best of my knowledge:

The Sacramento region exited the Statewide Regional Mandatory Stay at Home order on January 13th and the Limited Stay at Home Order on January 25th. With that said, they are now in the Purple Tier/Tier 1 which is the "Widespread" COVID Tier and is the most restrictive outside of the Regional Stay at Home Order. The majority of the State just left the Stay at Home Orders and went back "down" to the Purple Tier.

To summarize for Sacramento, restaurants have been allowed to go from take-out only to take-out and outdoor dining with modifications in place. Bars are not allowed to be open unless they having outdoor dining. Most retail and malls are allowed to be open at 25% capacity (grocery stores at 50%) with modifications as long as no food is consumed inside. While museums are allowed to open again outdoors with modifications, The California State Railroad Museum is operated by the California State Park System. I don't recall them being open for the past 8-10 months though the outdoor park area is now allowed to be open.

Here is the Sacramento County Health Order for your reference: Sacramento County Health Orders.

Martinez is in Contra Costa County which is also the county I live in. We just left the Regional Stay at Home Order on January 25th and are now in the Purple Tier as well. Having been in both areas, Downtown Martinez is near the station and fairly walkable (about the distance from the train platforms in SAC to the station building itself). There are a few dining establishments and a hot dog place that I stop at near the station. Usually met a few others from a volunteer group I am with there on occasion and ate outside at the station or in the large regional park area across the tracks (easy place to meet via Amtrak). I haven't been in Old Town Sac recently so not sure what the options are up there. Martinez is a bit less of a tourist draw than Old Town Sac so the prices may be more reasonable.

I time my connections a bit more closely and am often found running from one train to the other (yes a bit risky timing wise I know!), but taking the Capitol Corridor down and back would be perfectly reasonable for the average person with the time you would have (if on schedule). If you wanted a straight shot you could always ask the Conductor on 5 if you could extend to Martinez and/or Board 14 in Martinez (coach extension MTZ to SAC or what not). The Capitol Corridor would be a nice Round Trip as well and you could always buy the ticket last minute depending on how 5 is doing on time.

Keep in mind the schedule is greatly reduced from the norm, however there still are quite a few train options: Capitol Corridor Schedule.

As for the train station in Sacramento, it has undergone some work since 2014 and is still undergoing work. The Amtrak ticketing area and baggage claim have also been "improved" along with their staff office space and crew base. The only station within the region that is actually owned by Amtrak is Emeryville so a lot of this project has been part of a larger Sacramento Rail Yards District improvement project. More work is to come but it hopefully will turn out quite nicely.

Do note that in California, a Mask is required anytime anyone is within six feet of another person inside AND outside with few exceptions (medical) and if walking outside, a mask must be readily available to put on should you come within six feet of anyone else not in your immediate household/living group. Also at restaurants, you must be actively eating or drinking to take the mask off (i.e. mask on when waiting to order or sitting at table without food/drink etc...). This is the norm I am used to so I have no idea how that compares to other parts of the county. I have a trip in February taking Amtrak (essential travel for work) to Chicago, New York, Philadelphia, D.C., Orlando, and Tampa so I will soon find out. A lot of research in the mean time of the various travel rules and restrictions.

The Sierras (and most of NorCal) are taking a beating with the storms right now so it should be a very scenic ride through the mountains (not that the Midwest is a stranger to snow!) I hope you enjoy the trip!
 
Joined
Jan 20, 2010
Messages
1,221
Location
S.W. AR.
Hi. I haven't been to Sacramento in a few months but I live in the Bay Area so a lot of the restrictions in Sacramento are similar or a bit less restrictive. The below are the facts to the best of my knowledge:

The Sacramento region exited the Statewide Regional Mandatory Stay at Home order on January 13th and the Limited Stay at Home Order on January 25th. With that said, they are now in the Purple Tier/Tier 1 which is the "Widespread" COVID Tier and is the most restrictive outside of the Regional Stay at Home Order. The majority of the State just left the Stay at Home Orders and went back "down" to the Purple Tier.

To summarize for Sacramento, restaurants have been allowed to go from take-out only to take-out and outdoor dining with modifications in place. Bars are not allowed to be open unless they having outdoor dining. Most retail and malls are allowed to be open at 25% capacity (grocery stores at 50%) with modifications as long as no food is consumed inside. While museums are allowed to open again outdoors with modifications, The California State Railroad Museum is operated by the California State Park System. I don't recall them being open for the past 8-10 months though the outdoor park area is now allowed to be open.

Here is the Sacramento County Health Order for your reference: Sacramento County Health Orders.

Martinez is in Contra Costa County which is also the county I live in. We just left the Regional Stay at Home Order on January 25th and are now in the Purple Tier as well. Having been in both areas, Downtown Martinez is near the station and fairly walkable (about the distance from the train platforms in SAC to the station building itself). There are a few dining establishments and a hot dog place that I stop at near the station. Usually met a few others from a volunteer group I am with there on occasion and ate outside at the station or in the large regional park area across the tracks (easy place to meet via Amtrak). I haven't been in Old Town Sac recently so not sure what the options are up there. Martinez is a bit less of a tourist draw than Old Town Sac so the prices may be more reasonable.

I time my connections a bit more closely and am often found running from one train to the other (yes a bit risky timing wise I know!), but taking the Capitol Corridor down and back would be perfectly reasonable for the average person with the time you would have (if on schedule). If you wanted a straight shot you could always ask the Conductor on 5 if you could extend to Martinez and/or Board 14 in Martinez (coach extension MTZ to SAC or what not). The Capitol Corridor would be a nice Round Trip as well and you could always buy the ticket last minute depending on how 5 is doing on time.

Keep in mind the schedule is greatly reduced from the norm, however there still are quite a few train options: Capitol Corridor Schedule.

As for the train station in Sacramento, it has undergone some work since 2014 and is still undergoing work. The Amtrak ticketing area and baggage claim have also been "improved" along with their staff office space and crew base. The only station within the region that is actually owned by Amtrak is Emeryville so a lot of this project has been part of a larger Sacramento Rail Yards District improvement project. More work is to come but it hopefully will turn out quite nicely.

Do note that in California, a Mask is required anytime anyone is within six feet of another person inside AND outside with few exceptions (medical) and if walking outside, a mask must be readily available to put on should you come within six feet of anyone else not in your immediate household/living group. Also at restaurants, you must be actively eating or drinking to take the mask off (i.e. mask on when waiting to order or sitting at table without food/drink etc...). This is the norm I am used to so I have no idea how that compares to other parts of the county. I have a trip in February taking Amtrak (essential travel for work) to Chicago, New York, Philadelphia, D.C., Orlando, and Tampa so I will soon find out. A lot of research in the mean time of the various travel rules and restrictions.

The Sierras (and most of NorCal) are taking a beating with the storms right now so it should be a very scenic ride through the mountains (not that the Midwest is a stranger to snow!) I hope you enjoy the trip!
Thank you for that very helpful information. It sounds like I might take the chance and see Martinez esp since the museum will probably be closed, and your tip on riding through to Martinez was a great time saving idea! Can't wait to see the mountains and all the snow. I love the planning part of the trips I take and I have 70% chance of my trip coming off as planned albeit it is Amtrak and surprises abound. Just hoping there are no busses involved. It sounds like you have a great work trip coming up yourself. Thanks for tips and see ya on a train sometime. Happy rails to you!
 
Joined
Jan 26, 2020
Messages
2,101
Location
Oregon Coast
I've got a trip from CHI - PDX - CHI coming up in Feb. I'm taking CZ CS to PDX then the EB back to Chicago. I've got that layover in SAC. Has anyone been through there lately in the covid era? Are there any restaurants open. I plan on spending some time at the RR museum. Have they made any station improvements since 2014, or built anything interesting or new restaurans around there?. Has anyone ever risked going to Martinez and grabbing a bite and either hanging out there and catch the Capital Corridor back to Sac. Would this be too risky. Are there better places (cheap eats) in Mtz? Any thoughts, hints suggestions or directions are appreciatedThanks in advance. T.W.

SAC is a a rough connection which I avoid like the plague. As for going on down to Martinez there's always a risk of travel disruptions... and lesser frequencies of service due to covid and or weather. When taking the CS to connect with CZ I always request routing through Martinez which is redundant and costs more. Also because it's not an 'official connection' you may waive your rights if some kind of a disruption occurs.
 

Bob Dylan

50+ Year Amtrak Rider
Joined
May 31, 2009
Messages
24,251
Location
Austin Texas
Thank you for that very helpful information. It sounds like I might take the chance and see Martinez esp since the museum will probably be closed, and your tip on riding through to Martinez was a great time saving idea! Can't wait to see the mountains and all the snow. I love the planning part of the trips I take and I have 70% chance of my trip coming off as planned albeit it is Amtrak and surprises abound. Just hoping there are no busses involved. It sounds like you have a great work trip coming up yourself. Thanks for tips and see ya on a train sometime. Happy rails to you!
I want to put a plug in for doing your layover in Davis ( first stop West of SAC)instead of SAC or MTZ.

Beautiful little College town, with a nice Old SP Mission style Station.

And right across the street are good eateries, stores,Hotels etc.( of course with Californias confusing,ever changing Guidelines who knows what's Open/ still in Business)

The Agent there is very friendly and helpful, will keep your stuff for Free while you visit. I believe that this Station has more Bikes carried aboard Trains than any other Station due to the large amount of students that ride the Trains there.
 

sttom

OBS Chief
Joined
Jan 23, 2019
Messages
824
Cheap food and near Amtrak are two phrases that don't go together in Martinez. I live in the area and the cheapest thing in Martinez that is good is a few miles from downtown where the Amtrak station is. Sacramento is kind of in the same boat, anything near downtown (assuming things survived) are going to be expensive since they, like restaurants in DC, mostly served people in government. The best place that wasn't ridiculously priced in Sacramento is a place called Aura which is a Korean restaurant. Its on G and 14th Streets which is about 1.5 miles from the train station.

I've been wanting to give Davis a visit. Its a college town with a lot of things near the very beautiful, but small SP station. And since its a college town, things will be more affordable. But when I was planning on taking the train up there, COVID was just starting to spread in California.
 
Joined
Oct 21, 2012
Messages
754
Location
SF Bay Area
I want to put a plug in for doing your layover in Davis ( first stop West of SAC)instead of SAC or MTZ.

Beautiful little College town, with a nice Old SP Mission style Station.

And right across the street are good eateries, stores,Hotels etc.( of course with Californias confusing,ever changing Guidelines who knows what's Open/ still in Business)

The Agent there is very friendly and helpful, will keep your stuff for Free while you visit. I believe that this Station has more Bikes carried aboard Trains than any other Station due to the large amount of students that ride the Trains there.

Davis is nice and I used to go to school there, both as a resident and commuter, and walk to campus from the station. Not sure how it is doing with the bulk of the student population learning remotely, but I'd select that over SAC or MTZ. It is a city where there are more bikes than people and was very pleasant to live in. I will say the prices would be more reasonable there (if things are open) and there are more options near the station than either SAC or MTZ.

A side note though... while the agents there were very helpful, due to the staffing reductions by Capitol Corridor (lowering payments to Amtrak), there is only one agent left. The Station is only open 6am-2:30pm Monday-Friday (1 Shift with a 30 minute lunch) so it will not be staffed for either your arrival on 5 (unless it is early) nor your departure on 14 (or any PM Capitol Corridor train). Shouldn't really be an issue though unless you have bags you were hoping to store.
 

Sidney

OBS Chief
Joined
Jul 12, 2020
Messages
822
Last week I took 11 from Portland to Martinez to transfer to a San Joaquin to LA. By avoiding Sacramento I had a later arrival and one less leg. Bus train bus from Sac,train bus from mtz. Same 4PM arrival in LA.
 

Willbridge

50+ Year Amtrak Rider
Joined
Mar 30, 2019
Messages
1,799
Location
Denver
Davis is nice and I used to go to school there, both as a resident and commuter, and walk to campus from the station. Not sure how it is doing with the bulk of the student population learning remotely, but I'd select that over SAC or MTZ. It is a city where there are more bikes than people and was very pleasant to live in. I will say the prices would be more reasonable there (if things are open) and there are more options near the station than either SAC or MTZ.

A side note though... while the agents there were very helpful, due to the staffing reductions by Capitol Corridor (lowering payments to Amtrak), there is only one agent left. The Station is only open 6am-2:30pm Monday-Friday (1 Shift with a 30 minute lunch) so it will not be staffed for either your arrival on 5 (unless it is early) nor your departure on 14 (or any PM Capitol Corridor train). Shouldn't really be an issue though unless you have bags you were hoping to store.
I'm a fan of the Davis connection, too, but that's when it's including baggage checking. Davis makes a nice stopover, too. Pre-pandemic the only time I ran into a problem there was when term papers were due and finals were coming up and every place with wi-fi was packed with students beavering away.

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