Day 1 - California Zephyr to California
Your west coast getaway begins today when you meet your tour manager and fellow travelers in the Metropolitan Lounge at Chicago’s historic Union Station. Board the legendary California Zephyr for an early afternoon departure and settle in to your private Roomette sleeping accommodations. As the train begins its westward journey, get acquainted with your fellow travelers in the Sightseer Lounge car, offering panoramic views of the passing scenery. Overnight train (D)
Day 2 – En Route to California
When you awake this morning, look westward and thrill to the sight of the Colorado Rockies in the distance. After a hot breakfast, find a seat in the glass-walled Sightseer Lounge or relax in your private compartment with its large picture window. Today’s scenery will be outstanding! Once the Zephyr departs Denver it begins its climb over the Front Range of the Rockies. About an hour later you’ll encounter the famous 6.2-mile long Moffat Tunnel and go under the Continental Divide. Throughout the day the train will wind around sharp mountain curves and through numerous tunnels with streams winding through valleys far below. Overnight train. (B, L, D)
Day 3 – Arrive in Sacramento / Merced
Awake this morning to a changing landscape. Leave the rugged terrain and pine trees behind as you begin to surround yourself with lush greenery and palm trees. Arrive in California’s capitol, Sacramento, early this afternoon. Here you’ll board a San Joaquin train for Merced. Upon arrival transfer to your hotel with the remainder of the day at your leisure. Overnight Courtyard by Marriott. (B, L)
Day 4 – Yosemite National Park
Today board a sightseeing bus for the 82-mile journey into Yosemite National Park. A box lunch will be served en route. El Capitan, Bridalveil Falls, Yosemite Falls, and Half Dome are some of the most popular attractions. You’ll see these breathtakingly beautiful sights with their coating of ice and snow. This afternoon, embark on a two-hour narrated tour of the Park.
**Once or twice during the winter months, the road to Yosemite may be closed due to snow accumulations In the unlikely event the group should encounter such conditions, you will spend the day in Sacramento visiting the California State Rail Museum featuring the country’s most extensive collection of rail equipment and memorabilia, Old Town, and more.
Late this afternoon, return to Merced. Dinner this evening will be at a local restaurant. Overnight Courtyard by Marriott. (L, D)
Day 5 – San Diego
Today travel by train and coach 400 miles from Merced to San Diego. Your travels take you through the San Joaquin Valley, the source of much of America’s fruits and vegetables, and along the dazzling Pacific coastline. Overnight Bayside Inn.
Day 6 – San Diego
This morning visit the famous San Diego Zoo, one of the greatest zoological gardens in the world. First, tour the entire zoo complex on a double-decker conveyance. Later, there will be time to explore the zoo on your own. This afternoon strike out on a San Diego city tour. Highlights include the Gaslamp Quarter, the Hotel del Coronado, the Embarcadero, Balboa Park, and Old Town. Overnight Bayside Inn. (B)
Day 7 – Pacific Surfliner to Santa Barbara
The morning is at your leisure to explore the area, shop, or relax at the hotel. At 11:00 am transfer to the Center City Amtrak station where you’ll prepare for a noon departure on a Pacific Surfliner train bound for Santa Barbara, one of the nation’s most beautiful cities. Upon arrival transfer to the hotel with the remainder of the day at your leisure. Overnight Holiday Inn Express-Hotel Virginia. (B)
Day 8 – Santa Barbara Sightseeing / Coast Starlight
After breakfast, embark on a two-hour sightseeing tour of Santa Barbara. You’ll see many examples of the city’s Spanish past, including The Mission Santa Barbara and El Presidio de Santa Barbara Historical Park. The Court House, with its massive murals and tile floors and walls, is not to be missed!
After your tour, you’ll continue to the Santa Barbara Amtrak station where you’ll board the Coast Starlight for the 1,274-mile journey to Seattle. Scenic highlights include a number of mountain ranges and 150 miles of spectacular Pacific Ocean coastline! Make sure to take time to experience the train’s Pacific Parlour Car or the Sightseer Lounge for unprecedented views of the scenery through which you’re traveling. Overnight train. (CB, L, D)
Day 9 – En Route to Seattle
You won’t want to miss today’s spectacular scenery including the towering, snow-covered Cascade Mountains, 22 tunnels and innumerable hairpin turns. Spend the day enjoying the train’s services including the amenities in the Pacific Parlour Car. The train rolls northward this afternoon through the Willamette Valley, past Portland, finally arriving in Seattle mid-evening. Overnight Roosevelt Hotel. (B, L, D)
Day 10 – Seattle Sightseeing
The morning is free until 11:00 am, when you board a sightseeing bus and transfer to Seattle’s world-famous Space Needle. Enjoy spectacular panoramas of the city, Puget Sound, and the Cascade Mountains from the 520-foot high observation deck. Following lunch on your own, embark on a sightseeing tour of the city including Pike Place Market, Chinatown, concrete floating bridges, Lake Washington, the Arboretum, the University of Washington, and sweeping views of Puget Sound and the Olympic Mountains.
Arrive at Seattle’s King Street Station late this afternoon for your 4:45 pm departure aboard Amtrak’s Empire Builder to Chicago. Sit back and enjoy a hot meal and beautiful scenery as you leave Puget Sound in your wake and begin your travels toward the Northern Prairie states. Overnight train. (D)
Day 11 – Empire Builder to Chicago
Today brings dramatic scenery as the train travels past the snow-covered peaks of the Rocky Mountains on its approach to Glacier National Park. Icy waterfalls, river gorges and snow-covered prairies complete the picture as you enter the flatlands of eastern Montana and North Dakota. Spend your day onboard the train chatting with your fellow travelers, reading a book, listening to music or simply relaxing in your private Roomette accommodations. Overnight train. (B, L, D)
Day 12 – Arrive in Chicago
The train departs Minneapolis-St. Paul this morning and heads south along the Mississippi River, winding between the river bank and high bluffs, chugging through the picturesque Dells Country of Wisconsin and arriving in Chicago this afternoon where your tour comes to an end. (B, L)
Prices are land-only, per person based on double occupancy. Single prices are available upon request. Prices are correct at the time of this web page going live; however are subject to confirmation at time of booking.