Independent Amtrak Tours
Escorted Amtrak Tours
New England and Autumn Tours
Winter Escapes on Amtrak
This tour is not offered this year. A variety of other spectacular California rail tours are currently available for travel.
Join California Golden State Rail for a great new tour of the Golden State. Your adventure travels round-trip from Los Angeles to Long Beach, San Luis Obispo, San Jose (and the redwoods), Sacramento, Yosemite National Park and the Gold Rush Country.
Train tour highlights include the routes of the Southern Pacific's renowned "Coast Daylight" and "San Joaquin Daylight" streamliners and the Santa Fe's "Golden Gate" line. On these famous lines you ride on Amtrak's contemporary double-decker California cars and very comfortable double-decker Superliners. You also ride the new Los Angeles Light Rail line following the former Pacific Electric Railway interurban speedway to Long Beach, the "Red Line" subway and the scenic San Bernardino Metrolink commuter train route.
As you journey into Southern California historic trains are highlighted at the Orange Empire Railway Museum and at the LA County Fairgrounds, with extensive steam era displays including a 4-8-8-4 articulated Union Pacific "Big Boy", the world's largest steam engine. At Felton ride the narrow gauge Roaring Camp and Big Trees steam line into a stunning grove of giant redwoods. The Sacramento treat is a tour of the California State Railroad Museum, the centerpiece of the restored Old Sacramento District. Enjoy lunch in the dome-diner on the Napa Valley Wine Train. In the Sierra Nevada region you ride the steam-powered Sierra RR out of Jamestown and tour the restored roundhouse at Railtown 1897 before a Farewell Dinner in the diner on the Sierra Railroad Dinner Train.
Sightseeing includes touring the restored Cunard Lines former flagship the "RMS Queen Mary", Universal Studios Hollywood, the Aquarium of the Pacific, the lovely Spanish mission at San Luis Obispo, William Randolph Hearst's "castle" at San Simeon, and Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park by steam train. Another lunch is included on the restored sternwheeler "S.S. Delta King", permanently moored in Old Sacramento. Travel into the stunning peaks of the High Sierra Nevada Mountains, tour Yosemite National Park with lunch at the Ahwanee Hotel, and explore the Gold Rush country with a tour of the restored Columbia mining camp.
- Tour of restored Cunard Lines former flagship the "RMS Queen Mary"
- Universal Studios Hollywood
- Aquarium of the Pacific tour
- Spanish mission at San Luis Obispo
- William Randolph Hearst's "castle" at San Simeon
- Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park by steam train
- High Sierra Nevada Mountains
- Yosemite National Park tour
- Columbia mining camp tour
- Orange Empire Railway Museum
- Los Angeles County Fair (See Union Pacific "Big Boy")
- Amtrak's Pacific Surfliner
- A visit to San Luis Obispo de Tolosa
- Tour Hearst's Castle
- Amtrak's Coast Starlight
- Ride the Roaring Camp and Big Trees Railroad
- Amtrak's Capitol Corridor
- Explore California State Railroad Museum
- Lunch on the S.S. Delta Queen
- Ride the Napa Valley Wine Train
- Amtrak's San Joaquin
- Tour Yosemite National Park
- Sierra Railroad Dinner Train
- Sierra Railroad Steam Train
- 11 nights hotel accommodations
- All rail travel including light rail and subway
- All motorcoach travel
- All Sightseeing
- All Meals noted as included below
- All transfers round-trip from the Biltmore Hotel in Los Angeles
on Day One to either the Los Angeles train station or airport on Day Twelve
- Luggage handling
- Professional tour manager
Day One, Wednesday, September 12
Independent arrivals into Los Angeles. Hotel accommodations for the next four nights are included at the legendary Millennium Biltmore Hotel in the heart of the city. This hotel hosted the annual Academy Awards show for over 30 years. Its public rooms are a fantasy of 1920s Italian-Renaissance glamour, while the sleeping rooms have been modernized to offer contemporary comfort and amenities. The hotel is a ten minute cab (or subway) ride from Los Angeles Union Terminal (LAUPT) or from Los Angeles International Airport by direct Super Shuttle van ($15 per person rate as of November 2006) or by taxi ($38 flat rate as of November 2006) in 30-40 minutes.
Day Two, Thursday, September 13 (L)
Long Beach by Light Rail - tour "RMS Queen Mary" - Aquarium of the Pacific. Travel by Light Rail (contemporary interurban electric railway) from Los Angeles to Long Beach this morning. The line begins in a subway, then emerges onto a fast dedicated right-of-way as we roll southwest. This was the last line of the immense Pacific Electric Ry. network to be abandoned (in 1962) and the first to be reopened in the late 1980s. The PE once ran nearly 1,000 miles of electric trolley and interurban lines in southern California. Arriving in Long Beach, the Light Rail trams run right down the middle of the road, exactly as the PE's "Red Cars" once did!
Upon arrival you take the shuttle to the pier where the magnificent former Cunard Lines flagship the "RMS Queen Mary" is moored. Have a self-guided tour of this elegant art-deco vessel and enjoy a Welcome Lunch on-board. Adjacent to the great ship is the superb Aquarium of the Pacific. Here 19 major habitats display the marine treasures of the Pacific Ocean. Return to Los Angeles by Light Rail.
Day Three, Friday, September 14 (L)
Tour Universal Studios Hollywood. Board the fast "Red Line" subway at the hotel for the run north to the Universal Cities terminus. This is home to the most accessible of Hollywood movie studios. The day is spent enjoying the Universal Studios Hollywood Tour, a true "experience of the movies". We drive through active sets on a rubber-tired tram (you could see a star!), then enjoy free time to participate in the interactive rides that recreate scenes from such famous films as "Jaws", "Jurassic Park" and (of course, in California) Arnold Schwarzenegger's "Terminator". There also is plenty of time to visit the shops of the Universal City Walk Hollywood complex. Each participant has an "all you can eat" lunch pass valid at any of the three on-studio cafes. Return to the hotel at your leisure on the "Red Line".
Day Four, Saturday, September 15
Orange Empire Railway Museum - Los Angeles Country Fair/Rail Exhibits. Today is an unusual day of rail exploration. First you motor east to the little town of Perris, home of the Orange Empire Railway Museum. The collection here demonstrates the evolution of the vast Pacific Electric system and the days of branch-line steam in southern California. Ride the restored trolley line and demonstration railway (which often is steam-powered). Later you drive to San Bernardino and board the double-decker commuter trains of Metrolink. The San Bernardino Metrolink Line follows a former Pacific Electric/Southern Pacific route back west to Los Angeles.
Detrain at the Los Angeles County Fair enroute. The Fair continues to showcase the agricultural bounty of the L.A. Basin, but its particular draw for this tour is its outstanding train exhibit. The centerpiece is a preserved Union Pacific "Big Boy" articulated 4-8-8-4 steam engine, the largest railway locomotive ever built. There are great rides and shows to enjoy independently at the Fair as well! Later you return by Metrolink to the gloriously restored Los Angeles Union Passenger Terminal and from there to your hotel on the "Red Line". There are several afternoon/early evening departures; and you can return on your choice of trains.
Day Five, Sunday, September 16 (complimentary on-train beverages and snacks)
Ride Amtrak's Pacific Surfliner - tour San Luis Obispo Mission. This morning we take one of the world's most beautiful main-line train trips, riding the legendary former Southern Pacific "Coast Route" to San Luis Obispo. Amtrak's Pacific Surfliner streamliner takes us north in the comfort of upgraded Pacific Business Class with complimentary on-board non-alcoholic beverages and snacks. More complete meals can be purchased in the café car.
The line literally hugs the shores of the Pacific Ocean for over 100 miles from Oxnard to Lompoc. Much of this trackage is remote from any roads. In places, the line runs on bluffs hundreds of feet above the breakers. In the early afternoon you detrain at San Luis Obispo and visit the beautiful Spanish Colonial Mission of San Luis Obispo de Tolosa, built as part of Father Junipero Serra's chain of missions in 1732. Overnight at the Holiday Inn Express San Luis Obispo.
Day Six, Monday, September 17 (CB)
Hearst's Castle - ride Amtrak's Coast Starlight over the Cuesta Grade. San Francisco newspaper magnate William Randolph Hearst built his fantasy "castle" at the pretty village of San Simeon, 40 miles north up the rugged coast from San Luis Obispo. Tour the estate this morning, exploring the amazing Main House and lovely gardens.
Later you board Amtrak's Coast Starlight Superliner for a very scenic trip north to San Jose. Continue on the former Southern Pacific "Coast Route", ascending the rugged Cuesta Grade as you leave San Luis Obispo. The line twists around multiple horseshoe curves as its crests the Coast Range. Dinner can be purchased in the diner, and there is a mid-train dome-lounge car to enjoy as well. Overnight at the Travelodge on the Alameda in San Jose.
Day Seven, Tuesday, September 18 (CB,L)
Roaring Camp and Big Trees Steam Railroad - Amtrak Capitol to Sacramento. We drive high into the Coast Range this morning to the former logging camp of Felton and board the three foot narrow gauge trains of the steam-powered Roaring Camp and Big Trees Railroad. This line ascends on very steep grades and through switchbacks to a terminus in the Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park, where we detrain to admire a grove of giant redwoods. Our lunch is a Lumberjack Barbecue at Felton before we return to San Jose and board Amtrak's Capitol double-decker streamliner for the run northeast to Sacramento. The line closely follows San Francisco Bay through Oakland and Berkeley, offering matchless views of San Francisco and the Oakland Bay and Golden Gate Bridges en route. Overnight for three nights in the heart of Old Sacramento at the Vagabond Inn.
Day Eight, Wednesday, September 19 (CB,L)
Visit Old Sacramento - California State Railroad and Discovery Museums. The hotel is just steps from the restored gold-rush center of California's capital city, the Old Sacramento District. Here you explore the matchless exhibits of the California State Railroad Museum which include the only surviving Southern Pacific "cab forward" articulated steam engine; a diner from the Santa Fe "Super Chief"; and the restored terminal of the Central Pacific RR, the western portion of the first Transcontinental Railway.
Enjoy a very special lunch on the sternwheeler "S.S. Delta King", sister ship of the legendary "S.S. Delta Queen". Many "steamboaters" are unaware that these renowned vessels originally ran an overnight service between Sacramento and San Francisco. Later we visit the Discovery Museum, which displays the natural and human history of California. There is free time to shop and further explore Old Sacramento or take an optional ride on Sacramento's new Light Rail network.
Day Nine, Thursday. September 20 (CB,L)
Luncheon in the dome-diner on the Napa Valley Wine Train. You drive northwest this morning into the beautiful Napa Valley, center of California's wine production. At the beautiful village of the Napa you board the Napa Valley Wine Train for a round-trip journey to St. Helena. Enjoy a multi-course gourmet lunch in the elegant dome-diner as you ride. Later you drive some of the pretty back roads of the valley en route back to Sacramento.
Day Ten, Friday, September 21 (CB,L)
Ride Amtrak's San Joaquin - tour Yosemite National Park. Early this morning you walk across the street to Sacramento's elegantly restored Southern Pacific depot and board Amtrak's double-decker San Joaquine streamliner for a fast run south to Modesto. Here you re-board our coach for the drive to Yosemite National Park. En route you ascend into the towering peaks and thundering cascades of the High Sierra Nevada Mountains. Have lunch at the landmark Ahwanee Hotel before enjoying a free afternoon in Yosemite Valley. The National Park Service operates a free tram every few minutes on a circle tour routing throughout the valley. The trams make frequent stops at scenic overlooks, so you can linger to photograph Yosemite or Vernal Falls and then reboard a later tram. Early this evening you have a short transfer to our home for the night, the Yosemite View Lodge.
Day Eleven, Saturday, September 22 (L,D)
Two rides on the Sierra Railroad (one steam, one for dinner) - tour Gold Rush Country. We drive into former Gold Rush Country in the foothills of the Sierra Nevadas today. At Jamestown you visit the steam-era roundhouse and shops of the Sierra Railroad at Railtown 1897, riding their steam-powered train as well. This line has been used many times in Hollywood films and TV programs, so you may recognize both the train and the scenery! Lunch is included at Jamestown's historic National Hotel before you explore the restored Columbia miners' camp at Columbia State Park. This evening enjoy a Farewell Dinner in the diner riding the diesel-powered Sierra Railroad Dinner Train round-trip from Oakdale. Overnight at Oakdale's comfortable Best Western Rama Inn.
Day Twelve, Sunday, September 23 (CB)
Ride Amtrak's San Joaquin down the San Joaquin Valley. This morning you board Amtrak's double-decker San Joaquin at Modesto for a fast run through the rich farm and ranch lands of the San Joaquin Valley on the former Santa Fe "Golden Gate" streamliner route. The diner-lounge car sells light meals enroute. At Bakersfield you reboard our coach for the ride over the Coast Ranges back to Los Angeles. Passengers will be dropped at Los Angeles Union Terminal (LAUPT) about 3:30 p.m. and Los Angeles International Airport at about 4:30 p.m. The tour ends here.
Note: You also can ride the San Joaquin independently today from Modesto to either Sacramento or Oakland/San Francisco. There are two direct trains to Sacramento, and four trains to Oakland/San Francisco. Please note these trains are not included in the tour price. Ask us about post-tour visits to the Bay Area, which can be arranged by your travel agent or through our partners at Gateway Travel.