In order to get down the west coast to San Francisco but save as much time as we could, we decided to hold off hiring our car until Los Angeles and to get from Seattle to San Francisco by Amtrak train. This meant that we needed to be on a train for 24 hours straight. We considered stopping overnight in Portland but the accommodation prices were really high and it actually would have only saved a couple of hours off the train journey.
So we committed and booked the train, planning to write it off as an 'experience' if it turned out pretty awful!
We were pleasantly surprised. The coach seats were big and roomy, there was an incredible about of leg room and the seats reclined pretty far with a leg rest that could pop up meaning you could lie almost flat!
We occupied ourselves with work (Alistair) and reading (me), watching multiple movies and then sleeping. The time passed fairly quickly, it honestly didn't feel like it was 24 hours.
In terms of food we brought our own lunch and snacks but had to get dinner on the train. We had the choice of the diner car or the cafe. In the end we didn't want to book a reservation for the diner car (they walk through the cars in the afternoon taking bookings) so opted for the cafe. It was pretty basic and quite expensive but we cobbled together a meal of pizza, burger, cup noodles and a bagel.
We did notice that the sleeping car passengers got a lot of special things; all of their food was included in a different car, they had wine tasting offered for an extra fee and they had two movies playing at different points in the day for them. We decided not to go for sleeping car tickets as they were A LOT more expensive and the coach seats sounded pretty sweet compared to our bus experience but if you wanted to treat yourself or wanted a bit of luxury, they are the way to go.
All in all we didn't mind our Amtrak 24 hour experience and would definitely do it again!
Just in case you are in a rush - we normally can get back to you in less than a day!