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Updated: Apr 25, 2023

A blog post with everything you need to know about LA Union Station

Los Angeles Union Station is a major hub for transportation in the bustling community of Greater Los Angeles. It’s also an incredibly beautiful building.


Where is it?

Nestled in a historic district downtown, Los Angeles Union Station is the central hub of public transit in LA with a large, busy train terminal. In fact, it’s the largest train terminal in the Western United States, the fifth-busiest Amtrak station and 12th-busiest train station in the United States, servicing upwards of 110,000 passengers a day. Just outside of Union Station is historic Olvera Street with authentic Mexican cuisine and shops at the many stalls, carts, and restaurants in the area.

How to Get There

All roads lead to Los Angeles Union Station, as the old saying (sort of) goes. While serving five Amtrak train routes (listed below), it also serves the Metrolink regional commuter train line, the Los Angeles Metro subway and light rail system, the LAX FlyAway, the Dodger Stadium Express, and numerous local, regional, and national bus lines.

To get out of Union Station and into Los Angeles, there are a number of options. The most readily-accessible are the various public transportation options:

If public transportation isn’t your thing, there are a Budget, Avis, and Hertz car rental agencies located inside the station next to the Amtrak baggage check-in, or you can grab a cab, Uber, or Lyft right outside the grand waiting room. If you are going to rent a car however, we recommend looking into Turo, which is like Airbnb for cars and is an inexpensive alternative to traditional car rentals.

Brief History of Los Angeles Union Station

It opened in 1939 to consolidate the three largest rail services into one station. It boasts a mix of incredible Art Deco and Mission Revival styles, including the large, comfy chairs in the grand waiting room. Since it’s opening, it’s been used in a number of films, most notably the 1950 film noir, Union Station. It’s also been used in such modern classics as Blade Runner, The Dark Knight Rises, Silver Streak, and Garfield: The Movie.

Dining at Los Angeles Union Station

There are a number of quick food options in LA Union Station if you want to grab something before your trip or to take on the train with you (while allowed on Amtrak and Metrolink trains, it's technically not on the local subways and light rails). In the main hall near the grand waiting room and baggage pick-up is a Subway, a Starbucks, and a Wetzel’s Pretzels. If you go further into the grand waiting room you'll find Traxx, a restaurant open for breakfast and lunch, and Traxx Bar, open until 10pm with a killer happy hour. Both of the Traxx brands are done in the art deco style so it’s like stepping into a speakeasy from an earlier time. There is also a new brewery called Homebound Brew Haus in the station that is a haven for Dodgers fans before and after taking the Dodger Stadium Express to home games, but most of the other locals we've talked to still don't know it's there! It's Bavarian beer hall style brewery in the midst of impressive art deco architecture with great beer that changes all the time.

Our Experience

While we’d used Union Station for the LA Metro subway service and numerous times to head down further south on Metrolink trains, this was the first time for Phoebe and only second time for myself to use the station for Amtrak service.

Amtrak trains at LA Union Station include:

During our month-long, cross-country Amtrak trip, we started here with the Coast Starlight from Los Angeles to Emeryville, CA (just across the bay from San Francisco).

Amtrak check-in desk at Union Station in Los Angeles

We arrived via the B Line (formerly the Red Line), and exited the platform from the far end of Union Station, near the Patsaouras Transit Plaza (where you board buses at the station), which meant a long walk down the platform tunnel to the main building. Here's a map for reference. The Amtrak check-in was very easy to find and had a short line. Purchasing tickets ahead of time and downloading the Amtrak app makes the check-in process quick and easy.


While they did assign us seats during check-in, we were able to request which side of the Coast Starlight train we wanted (because we already knew about the spectacular views) and they were happy to oblige. Whatever you do, don’t lose the slip they hand you when you check in; this includes your seat assignment and your final destination. When on the train, this slip goes above your seat, reserving it so that others can’t take your seats while you go to the cafe or observation car.

Amtrak bag check at LA Union Station is just around the corner from the Amtrak check-in desk

For Amtrak baggage check, you’ll need to head around the corner from the Amtrak check-in window. The check-in clerk gave us general directions and we walked past Cilantro Fresh Mexican Grill (that was closed at the time) and Trimana, a convenience store that is open until just before midnight. The baggage check was smooth and took almost no time, but they stop accepting checked bags 1 hour before the departure time, so make sure you’re there early to take advantage of this FREE service as long as your route and arrival station accommodate it. There is a Metropolitan Lounge available for Amtrak passengers with sleeper car reservations; those guests can also take advantage of the “red cap service” that will take your luggage to the train for you. Coach passengers must wait in the main hall.

The grand waiting room at LA Union Station has huge boards on the wall so you can easily see information about the arriving and departing trains

In the main hall, there are huge boards showing every train leaving from every platform. Once you know which platform you're going to, walk into the huge tunnel to find it 10-20 minutes before the train is scheduled to leave, or when the departures board says "boarding," whichever comes first. For most Amtrak trains, you'll have to walk all the way to the other side of the tunnel, so give yourself plenty of time. The train platforms actually go over the underground platform tunnel, with A & B entrances on either side, with stairs and ramps. There will usually be other people waiting upstairs on the platform to confirm that you're in the right place, or Amtrak attendants moving luggage and answering questions.

Walk through the underground tunnel to get to your train platform

When you arrive into Union Station on an Amtrak train with checked luggage, the pick-up is on the opposite side of the main wing of the station from Amtrak check-in; just go down the stairs or ramp from your train platform into the tunnel, then follow the platform numbers in descending order all the way to the main hall. We had to ask the baggage check-in attendant at the counter where to pick up our luggage and they were happy to help. The luggage arrived on the carousel shortly after (just like at the airport but MUCH smaller), and on our way out an attendant checked our luggage ticket to ensure we weren’t taking bags that weren’t ours (even better than the airport).

Pick up your Amtrak checked bags when you arrive at Union Station in Los Angeles just across from the Amtrak check-in desk in the main hall

Our Verdict

Los Angeles Union Station is an impressive building with its art deco architecture, huge amounts of dining options, and its ability to handle an insane amount of passengers passing through the halls every day. It’s also very, very convenient as the hub to get in or out of Los Angeles, with or without a car. Swing through for the history while starting or ending your journey.

Quick Reference Guide



How to Get There

Amtrak, Subway, Buses all funnel into Los Angeles Union Station. Parking lots available.

Dining Options

A number of quick service foods open during the day. Homebound Brewhouse serves food late into the evening.

Our Verdict

Los Angeles Union Station is a beautiful and convenient building, serving the Los Angeles community.

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Meet author Adam Neubauer, a travel blogger for In The Great Wide travel lifestyle blog


In The Great Wide Travel Lifestyle Blog Phoebe and Adam at the Scotch Whisky Experience in Edinburgh, Scotland

We’re Phoebe & Adam
the couple behind
In The Great Wide!

This is our travel lifestyle blog where we not only share stories from our adventures while traveling the world, but also our thorough research of the places we visit & practical advice on how to save money so you can travel more too!

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