Amtrak has special rates available on several routes from Los Angeles and other California destinations.
On Amtrak's service between Los Angeles and San Diego you can get your return fare for $7 when you buy the regular one-way fare. This offer extends to any of the cities on the route including Oceanside and San Juan Capistrano, etc.
In addition, the fare includes Amtrak's Oxnard-Los Angeles or L.A. Airport/Torrance/Long Beach/Seal Beach-Santa Ana feeder buses.
The one-way fare between Los Angeles and San Diego is $19, so you can ride Amtrak for $26 round trip. The $7 offer, however, is only good Mondays through Thursdays, with holidays blacked out. Children 2 to 11 pay half fare or $13.
From the train station at San Diego there is trolley service to the U.S.-Mexico border. At Tijuana you may be able to pick up various flights to other Mexican cities for considerably less than they would cost in Los Angeles.
The same $7 return fare discount offer applies to service from Bakersfield, Fresno or Stockton to Oakland/San Francisco (your fare includes bus service from Oakland into San Francisco), Sacramento or Chico, again Mondays through Thursdays. To illustrate, the one-way Bakersfield-Oakland/San Francisco fare is $47, so you can ride for $54 round trip.
Amtrak also has a return fare discount on its Los Angeles-Las Vegas route. Paying the one-way fare of $57 entitles you a return fare of $23 for a round-trip rate of $80. This offer is good every day of the week except for holiday periods.
With Amtrak's "All Aboard America" fares you can travel through any one of three regions (West, Central States, East Coast) for $159 round trip, with one stopover in each direction. If you combine two regions, the price is $239; all three regions or coast-to-coast, $299.
You have to return within 45 days to qualify for any of these discounts.
Amtrak also has a family plan that works on a one-way fare basis and that cannot be combined with the $7 offer. Under this plan, the head of the family pays full fare, the spouse and children 12 to 21 pay half fare, children 2 to 11 one-fourth fare and children under 2 ride free.
When you buy a ticket on Amtrak it's not generally on a reserved basis (except for certain routes including coastal Los Angeles-Oakland/San Francisco service). Therefore, it's a good idea to get to the train station early (about 45 minutes, according to Amtrak), even midweek during the summer when school is out.
Contact travel agents or Amtrak at (800) USA-RAIL.