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By Plane

All major U.S. carriers serve the San Francisco (SFO), Sacramento (SMF), San Jose (SJC), Los Angeles (LAX), John Wayne (Orange County; SNA), and San Diego (SAN) airports. They include American (tel. 800/433-7300; www.aa.com), Continental (tel. 800/523-3273; www.continental.com), Delta (tel. 800/221-1212; www.delta.com), JetBlue (tel. 800/538-2583; www.jetblue.com), Northwest (tel. 800/225-2525; www.nwa.com), Southwest (tel. 800/435-9792; www.southwest.com), United (tel. 800/241-6522; www.united.com), US Airways (tel. 800/428-4322; www.usairways.com), and Virgin America (tel. 877/359-8474; www.virginamerica.com). The lowest round-trip fares to the West Coast from New York fluctuate between about $200 and $450; from Chicago, they range from $200 to $300.

Arriving at the Airport -- International visitors arriving by air, no matter what the port of entry, should cultivate patience and resignation before setting foot on U.S. soil. U.S. airports have considerably beefed up security clearances in the years since the terrorist attacks of September 11, and clearing Customs and Immigration can take as long as 2 hours.

By Train

Amtrak (tel. 800/USA-RAIL [872-7245]; www.amtrak.com) connects California with about 500 American cities. The Sunset Limited is Amtrak's regularly scheduled transcontinental service, originating in Florida and making 52 stops along the way as it passes through Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, Texas, New Mexico, and Arizona, before arriving in Los Angeles 2 days later. The train, which runs three times weekly, features reclining seats, a sightseeing car with large windows, and a full-service dining car. Round-trip coach fares begin at around $350; several varieties of sleeping compartments are also available for an extra charge.


Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.