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This tour is not offered this year. A variety of other spectacular America by rail tours are currently available for travel.
Not many years ago America was captivated by an enchanting tale of romance set in a quiet little Iowa town and its six treasured little covered bridges. The ‘Bridges of Madison County’ became an instant American classic in book and film and introduced many travelers to the glorious and picturesque covered bridges, placed amidst the rural charm of America's Heartland.
Another enchanting part of Iowa was the famed Amana Colonies, settled by German immigrants in the 19th Century and filled with quaint villages, historic buildings, fabulous handicrafts and woolens and wonderful food including homemade breads, candies, jams, steins of ice-cold beer, sauerbraten and savory oven baked ham. While just across the River from Iowa, another wonderful example of small town America is Galena, Illinois, famed for its Civil War era buildings, antiques, history and utter charm, all of these great sights near each other in natural settings of remarkable, unspoiled beauty.
Your journey begins on the California Zephyr for a fast ride over the Burlington Northern Railroad to central Iowa for a four day stay for visiting the iconic Bridges of Madison County with plenty of time for photography and wandering about before lunch at the Northside Café. After lunch there’s ample time to stroll round Winterset one of our favorite American towns. Your next excursion takes you into the Des Moines River Valley aboard the Boone & Scenic Valley Railroad with 1920’s coach cars, a popular open-air car and even a real caboose.
After two full days in the Des Moines area, you travel to the incredibly scenic Amana Colonies in the bucolic Iowa River Valley for a journey back in time with their quaint homes, handicrafts, bakeries, shops and most notably, some of the finest food in the country, with lunch at the Ox Yoke Inn, featuring local home-made Amana specialties. Overnight is spent in the beautifully preserved, historic 19th Century Galena Illinois with time relive history and souvenir shop.
Saving the best for last you continue to the secluded Starved Rock Lodge at Starved Rock State Park for a relaxing stay in the historic 1930’s stone and log masterpiece before your final day on the Peoria River aboard the authentic paddlewheeler. A full day of scenic cruising, great food and live entertainment aboard this authentic replica of a 19th Century riverboat delights even the most seasoned traveler. After a final night’s rest in Galesburg you board the California Zephyr for your return to Chicago.
- Travel from Chicago to Osceola aboard the California Zephyr.
- 3-night stay in Urbandale Iowa at the perfectly located Comfort Suites with a welcome reception and breakfast each morning.
- A guided tour of the famous Bridges of Madison County, lunch at the Northside Café with plenty of time to explore quaint Winterset Iowa.
- A Steam Train ride on the Boone & Scenic Valley Railway through the Des Moines River Valley.
- Complimentary entrance to the Living History Farm just steps away from our hotel.
- Dinner at the Iowa Machine Shed with all the trimmins’ & fixins’.
- A full day tour of the historic Amana Colony with a hearty lunch at the famous Ox Yoke Inn.
- Overinight visit to Starved Rock State Park.
- Overinight visit to historic and beautifully preserved Galena Illinois.
- A day trip by authentic riverboat from Starved Rock State Park to Peoria on the Illinois river with meals and entertainment.
- A final overnight hotel stay with breakfast in Galesburg before our return to Chicago by train.
- Fully hosted, most meals, & special events.
Day One - Chicago, Illinois
The tour starts in exciting Chicago aboard the ‘California Zephyr’ for a short train ride west to Osceola with time for ‘dinner in the diner’. Then transfer and begin your three night stay at the Comfort Suites in Urbandale. R
Day Two - Winterset, Iowa
A magical day awaits for this morning you depart your hotel for the ‘Bridges of Madison County’ made famous in the book and movie. Words do not do adequate justice to the charm and visual appeal of these picturesque covered bridges. A local guide will illustrate the history and romantic lure of this charming area. You stop in the quite little town of Winterset where you can stroll round the quaint city square before enjoying lunch at the famous Northside Café (also seen in the movie) before returning to our hotel. This evening you enjoy dinner at an Iowa institution, the Iowa Machine Shed Restaurant offering some of the best beef, ham and pork chops on earth with all the fixins’ & trimmins’ you can eat. Overnight Comfort Suites. B, L & D
Day Three - Boone & Scenic Valley Railway
‘All Aboard!’ Today aboard the historic Boone & Scenic Valley Railroad. Don’t forget your camera since the highlight of your trip is a 200-foot tall trestle as you travel though the Des Moines River Valley. After lunch you return to the Comfort Suites with plenty of time to enjoy the Living History Farm, a completely operational 19th Century Iowa farm town. B
Day Four - Amana, Iowa & Galena, Illinois
This morning you depart for the lovely Amana Colonies, a little piece of Germany right here in the American Heartland with home-made sauerbraten, steins of ice cold beer and great handicrafts and woolen ware. A highlight here is lunch at the renowned Ox Yoke Inn. Then you continue to historic Galena Illinois, a 19th Century jewel with extraordinary architecture, quaint shops, historic buildings. B & L
Day Five - Starved Rock State Park
Today you travel to Starved Rock State Park. This area has been home to humans from as early as 8000 B.C. Hopewellian, Woodland and Mississippian Native American cultures thrived here. You spend the night at the historic lodge built by the WPA in the 1930’s, a genuine monument to the craftsmen and artisans of the period. B
Day Six - The Spirit of Peoria Riverboat
Today you travel from Starved Rock to Peoria aboard the riverboat ‘Spirit of Peoria’. She’s a genuine replica of the 19th Century riverboat so famously written about by Mark Twain. Decorated in ‘wedding cake’ style with great food and entertainment, today’s cruise on the Peoria River will certainly enchant you. Tonight you stay at the County Inn & Suites in Galesburg Illinois. B & L
Day Seven - Chicago, Illinois
After a restful night’s sleep you board the eastbound California Zephyr for your return trip to Chicago and then onward home. B