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Train travel from LA to Santa Barbara

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My husband and myself are travelling to LA in May from England. We have been to the USA quite a few times but never California. My husband does not want to drive in LA and so we are thinking of having a couple of days to see the sights locally and then taking the train to Santa Barbara for another couple of days after which we plan to pick up a car for the remainder of our trip going north to San Francisco, stopping wherever we fancy en route and then through Yosemite and Death Valley to Los Vegas.
We are older than Madonna but younger than Mick Jagger and so looking forward to this trip. After a few days the jet lag will be over so I would really like to get this first part planned. We haven't booked anywhere to stay yet in LA so is it best to stay somewhere quite close to the station and is this a good idea anyway, or will we be missing out by taking the train and not driving. Not sure which part of LA to stay in but close to the Station may be a good idea. We are planning to take a tour while we are there also.
Any suggestions will be great.

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