Greyhound stations are interesting things. When you first step into one from the outside, it can seem hostile and foreboding, as you look at masses of unkempt people huddled around each other, clutching their luggage. For the people who have actually been taking the bus, however, a Greyhound station is a place to rest and get some nourishment and rest for being shuffled on to another bus.

The quality of the Greyhound station can make a big difference in how that trip goes, including such things as vending machine and arcade game quality, and the general shiftiness of the surrounding neighborhood.

So, for those of you planning on travelling around the Western United States via Greyhound, here is a quick run down. I haven't been to some of these for a few years now, so my information may be a little outdated.

  • Seattle, Washington : Old, small and crowded, but by no means unpleasent. There is an attached Burger King inside the station, as well as a big Snapple machine and a few arcade games. It is in downtown Seattle, and may not be a very good place to get out of at 2 AM, but the inside of the station seems totally safe to me. Another thing about this station is, for me, at least, whenever I leave the doors, I can never tell which direction is North
  • Portland, Oregon : Very large and spacious, with a full scale souveneir type store inside. It also has new arcade games and a lot of vending machines. The atmosphere inside is pleasent. It is also next door to an Amtrak station, and next to Portland's Bus Mall. Unfortunatly, this location in downtown comes with a cost: this is another place where it might not be safe for a tourist to be wandering around in at night.
  • San Francisco, California : Very strictly utilitarian, and kind of dark and boxlike, this two story structure is located close to the bridge that leads to Oakland. Not a very fun place.
  • Los Angeles, California : A cheerful, well lit building with all the amenities located out in the middle of some warehouse park way outside of downtown. There is plenty of space here to move around in, although that space is usually filled pretty tightly. As a bonus, there is a Neo-Geo arcade machine where weary travellers can play Bust-a-Move, which is all you need to do before setting off on a long journey down Highway 66
  • Phoenix, Arizona : This building had just been built when I went there in the fall of 1996. This location, next to the airport, replaced a downtown location. While it is clean and modern, it is also located in the middle of airport-warehouse land, and so doesn't offer much in the way of local charm.
  • Flagstaff, Arizona About halfway between LA and Albuquerque, this is the largest city for many a mile, resting on the great, beautiful Coconino plateau. It is also in one of the few cities that a stranger wouldn't feel intimidated in, since Flagstaff is a small, pleasent place. It is right next to the Flagstaff City Hall, for what that is worth. And you can play Star Trek Pinball
  • Albuquerque, New Mexico : Another bus stop in a relativly non-threatening location. At least for me, all of New Mexico quallifies as a non-threatening location. The bus station itself, if big and spacious, isn't much fun otherwise. Go outside and play in the sun.
  • Salt Lake City, Utah : The bus station here has a big clock on the wall, telling you what time it is in Honolulu, Hawaii, in case you are planning on taking the bus there. It is right in the middle of downtown Salt Lake, next to the temple and the Delta Center and all that stuff. It is kind of crowded, and, for some reason, seems kind of dirty to me. Weary travellers can play Pac-Man, though.
  • Missoula, Montana : Small and clean, located about a mile or two outside of downtown Missoula.
  • Spokane, Washington : This modern two level structure is also the Amtrak station for Spokane. It's modern and has a restaraunt, new video games, vending machines, and even a commercial internet station.

I should point out as a warning that the judgement of people, including myself, is often way off on Greyhound related trips, since 24 hours curled intoa ball living off a diet of Pringles and Dr. Pepper can really tint your thinking.

I have to travel Greyhound quite a bit because of Internet Boyfriend, so here are some updated notes about stations.

Portland, Oregon: This is one of the places in which you might have your bag randomly searched. I have seen people get harassed and searched for no reason. If you leave the station, as Glowing Fish said, it's not really safe for just walking around... but if you are not deterred by that (or by open drug deals going on) there is an internet cafe a few blocks away called Backspace. They have LAN games and coffee.

San Francisco, California: The station is on the second floor of a drafty concrete building, above a parking garage/bus station. The location is Mission and First, which puts you in the middle of the Financial District. If you get hungry, there are not a lot of options, aside from vending machines and the Starbucks across the street. If you walk south-west a bit you will be right in the middle of the Tenderloin, which is shady at night but has good places to eat.

Eureka, California: A very small, clean station that is closed on a seemingly random basis. There's no food, but an Indian restaurant called Samraat is only a block away. It is not unheard-of for stabbings to take place here, especially at night. The Eureka Library is only three blocks away and that's where the hookers hang out. If you need to use a payphone, use the inside one, as the two on the side of the building are frequently vandalized and broken.

Willits, California: This is the halfway point between Eureka and San Francisco. There is no bus station, but there is a sign that says "Greyhound" on a side street on the south side of town. The bus stops between a Taco Bell and a McDonald's, so those are the food options. Do they have a contract or something?

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