California Zephyr Experience - Chicago to San Francisco
Long considered one of the most scenic routes in the United States, the California Zephyr takes you from the beautiful city of Chicago to the City by the Bay, San Francisco, by way of the spectacular Rockies and Sierras.
Long considered one of the most scenic routes in the United States, the California Zephyr takes you from the beautiful city of Chicago to the City by the Bay, San Francisco, by way of the spectacular Rockies and Sierras. Before embarking on your 2,300 mile journey to San Francisco, take advantage of your time in Chicago by visiting the city's famed attractions such as the John Hancock Observation Deck, ride the Ferris wheel at Navy Pier or window shop down The Magnificent Mile. The city also offers a rich cultural experience with its several museums and the renowned Art Institute.
After your stay in Chicago, begin your journey west as you board the California Zephyr towards San Francisco. Along the way, engulf yourself in absolute beauty as you pass through the frontier of the Colorado Rockies. As if that isn't breathtaking enough, as you continue your journey be dazzled by the natural beauty of the Sierra Nevada Mountains. When you finally do reach San Francisco, take your final days of the journey to explore this striking city. Make sure to visit Chinatown, Fisherman's Wharf, or hop on a cable car for a classic way to experience the City by the Bay.
This tour truly encompasses natural beauty so spectacular it takes your breath away - on a dazzling ride that touches the sky!
Itinerary is available Eastbound from San Francisco to Chicago based on your travel preference.
Highlights and Inclusions
- Transportation aboard Amtrak (2 nights on train)
- Hotel accommodations for two nights
- All Meals on board the train (Roomette & Bedroom passengers)
- Hop On Hop Off Chicago sightseeing tour
- Experience the majestic Rocky and Sierra Nevada Mountains
- Ride through the Moffat Tunnel
- See Colorado's Gore
- Byers and Glenwood Canyons
- Winter Park
- Truckee River
- Donner Lake
- San Pablo Bay and the Carquinez Strait
Day 1 - Chicago
Independent arrival into Chicago. Transfer to your hotel, located in the heart of downtown Chicago. Explore the most spectacular areas of the city with a hop-on/ hop-off trolley tour or simply by jumping on the closest Chicago "L" train. Museums, the famous Magnificent Mile, shopping and world-renowned cuisine are all within steps of your hotel. Overnight Chicago.
Day 2 - California Zephyr
Arrive at Chicago's historic Union Station for your afternoon departure. For those passengers with sleeping accommodations, check into Amtrak's First Class Metropolitan Lounge. Once onboard the famous California Zephyr, settle into your private sleeping room as you begin your 2300 mile journey to San Francisco. After settling in, you may want to visit the glass-walled Observation Car or head to the Lounge Car to meet some new friends. Enjoy dinner in the Dining Car as you cross the mighty Mississippi River. All meals on the train are included for sleeping car occupants. Departs daily from Chicago, Illinois: 2:00PM*. Overnight train.
Day 3 - Colorado Rockies aboard the California Zephyr
This morning wake up to a magnificent view of the Colorado Rockies on the horizon. Enjoy your breakfast in the dining car as the Zephyr climbs the front range of the Rockies and heads toward the Great Continental Divide. Be sure to look for wild-life when passing through the ski resort town of Winter Park, Colorado. Continue to take in awe-inspiring scenery and canyons through late afternoon. On board you will enjoy lunch and dinner. Overnight train.
Day 4 - San Francisco Arrival
Today begins the final leg of your journey West as the Zephyr climbs from Nevada to California. By mid-morning, the train arrives in the "The Biggest Little City in the World" of Reno, Nevada. As you cross the border from Nevada into California your climb through the legendary Donner Pass, the high point in the northern Sierra Nevada Mountains. Arrival into Emeryville is scheduled for early evening and an Amtrak Shuttle is waiting to transfer you to the Ferry Building in downtown San Francisco. From here you can catch a taxi to your hotel located at fabulous Fisherman's Wharf. Arrives Emeryville, California: 4:10PM*. Overnight San Francisco.
Day 5 - San Francisco
When you awake this morning, you may want to enjoy breakfast at one of the many restaurants on the San Francisco Bay- all within walking distance of your hotel. Spend the day exploring Golden Gate Park, Chinatown, Telegraph Hill, and Jackson Square. Tours of Alcatraz and boat tours on the bay are available at Fisherman's Wharf, not to mention countless shops and restaurants. Check out from your hotel and transfer on your own to the airport.
Rail Your Way
Add more flexibility to your rail vacation by choosing when and where to begin and end your vacation. Whether you want to go east to west, west to east, north to south, south to north, start at the beginning, travel the reverse itinerary or begin in the middle, Rail Your Way allows you to tailor make your rail vacation so you can have the experience you want.
Look for the Rail Your Way icon to identify those vacations that offer customized rail connections or joining points. Ask your rail specialist how you can have Rail Your Way!
Add a Cruise
Many of our rail vacations begin and end in popular port cities. Spice up your vacation by adding an ocean or river cruise aboard your preferred cruise line to your itinerary and experience the best of both worlds. Popular cruises include Alaska’s Inside Passage, the Panama Canal, New England and Eastern Canada, and historic river towns along the Mississippi River.
Look for the Add a Cruise icon to identify those vacations that offer pre- or post-cruises. Ask your rail specialist how you can Add a Cruise!
Extend Your Vacation
Extend your rail vacation with new city packages in Chicago, Toronto, and Vancouver. Optional pre- or post-night packages include hotel accommodations for two nights and popular local sightseeing, and may be added to the beginning or end of qualifying rail vacations.
Look for the Extend Your Vacation icon to identify those vacations which offer new city stay packages. Ask your rail specialist for details about these pre- and post-night extensions.
Train and Hotel Accommodations
Hotels include the Hilton Palmer House and Sheraton Fisherman’s Wharf.
Amtrak accommodations are available in Coach class, Roomette, and Bedroom. Coach accommodations include a reclining seat with leg rest. Roomette accommodations include a private cabin featuring two comfortable seats beside a picture window during the day, converting to an upper and lower berth at night. Bedroom accommodations feature a sofa and chair by day, and upper and lower berth by night. Bedroom accommodations also include a sink and self-enclosed toilet and shower. All travelers have access to the Sightseer Lounge. Roomette and Bedroom accommodations include all meals aboard the train.
+Vacations By Rail can supply connecting rail from your closest Amtrak Station.
Hotel accommodations are based on availability; substitutes will be similar in quality and amenities.
Click here to view testimonials for California Zephyr Experience - Chicago to San Francisco.
It was the most awesome vacation I had ever had. So relaxing and scenic. And all employees were so nice and accommodating. I traveled alone, but I always felt safe. I met wonderful people at breakfast/lunch/dinner. ALL of the staff members on board were very helpful and nice. This is the first vacation I've ever taken where I was not exhausted at the end.
Had a wonderful time, especially enjoyed the scenery. The highlight was an American eagle flying over the Colorado River right next to the train.
My husband and I love traveling by Amtrak - our first time in a roomette. Our trip was delayed a little over 2 hours getting to our destination on the California Zephyr - which was ok for my husband and myself. The conductor was informative about issues and arrival time updates, and was rather comical at the Reno Nevada stop. The addition of the volunteers giving history along the way out of Denver was great
Dates & Prices
Select from the packages below to view prices for this tour.
|Departs Daily between 1st November 2015 and 15th March 2016||$695||
|Departs Daily between 16th March 2016 and 31st October 2016||$745||
|Departs Daily between 1st November 2016 and 15th March 2017||$745||
|Departs Daily between 1st November 2015 and 15th March 2016||$1,300||
|Departs Daily between 16th March 2016 and 31st October 2016||$1,300||
|Departs Daily between 1st November 2016 and 15th March 2017||$1,300||
|Departs Daily between 1st November 2015 and 15th March 2016||$1,893||
|Departs Daily between 16th March 2016 and 31st October 2016||$1,893||
|Departs Daily between 1st November 2016 and 15th March 2017||$1,893||
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Amtrak Coach: Departs daily between 1st November 2015 and 15th March 2016 from $695, daily between 16th March 2016 and 31st October 2016 from $745, daily between 1st November 2016 and 15th March 2017 from $745
Amtrak Roomette: Departs daily between 1st November 2015 and 15th March 2016 from $1,300, daily between 16th March 2016 and 31st October 2016 from $1,300, daily between 1st November 2016 and 15th March 2017 from $1,300
Amtrak Bedroom: Departs daily between 1st November 2015 and 15th March 2016 from $1,893, daily between 16th March 2016 and 31st October 2016 from $1,893, daily between 1st November 2016 and 15th March 2017 from $1,893
* Arrival and Departure times are subject to change. Please be advised that passengers traveling on California Zephyr Trains may encounter delays of approximately three to six hours due to heavy congestion, speed restrictions and other operating conditions.
Prices are per person, tax included. Prices are correct at the time this webpage is published; however are subject to change. Vacations By Rail can supply connecting rail from your closest Amtrak Station.