Day 1 – Depart Chicago
Meet your tour manager in Chicago’s Union Station. At 2:45 pm we’ll board the Southwest Chief and prepare for a 3:15 pm departure. Relax in your private sleeping accommodations or explore the train including the glass-walled Sightseer Lounge. Overnight train. (D)
Day 2 – En Route
During the night, the Southwest Chief travels across Kansas. We’ll be nearing the Colorado border when you awake. Relive the excitement of the Santa Fe Trail today as we cross New Mexico and Arizona. There will be a stop in Albuquerque late this afternoon, giving you the opportunity to stretch your legs during a train-side walk. The train continues through Arizona this evening. Overnight train. (B, L, D)
Day 3 – Descanso Gardens
Have an early breakfast before the Southwest Chief pulls into Los Angeles’ Union Station. Upon arrival, board a deluxe motorcoach and travel to La Canada Flintridge, home of the Descanso Gardens which features North America’s largest camellia collection – more than 34,000 plants and more than 700 camellia taxa, which include species, varieties, cultivars and hybrids, growing on 20 acres. Many of these camellias are more than 20 feet high and bloom from early autumn to spring. The Camellia Forest boasts both rare and familiar camellias and has been designated an International Camellia Garden of Excellence by the International Camellia Society. Explore the Gardens extensively in a covered “green” tram. A boxed lunch will be provided.
Following our visit to the Descanso Gardens, our travels take us to Universal City. Check into your hotel and enjoy all of the area’s fun activities for the remainder of the day. Universal CityWalk Hollywood is a three-block entertainment, dining, and shopping promenade. Options include more than 30 great places to eat, a 19-screen movie theatre featuring an eight-story-high IMAX, seven hot night spots, indoor skydiving, more than 30 stores, and more. Overnight Hilton Universal City. (B, L)
Day 4 – Carlsbad Flower Fields
This morning travel by motorcoach south along the Pacific coastline to Carlsbad, home of the Flower Fields. Spend a few hours in one of nature’s wonders—the Field of Dreams, the Fields of Color—50 acres of extraordinary color in bloom on a hillside overlooking the Pacific Ocean, with a special nursery, garden, and gift shop. A tractor-pulled cart will carry us around the fields, and an “on your own” lunch is available. Be sure to visit the Miniature Rose Garden, and you won’t want to miss the Walk of Fame, the only display of each of the more than 170 All-American Rose selection winners since 1940. Also enjoy the All-American Rose Selection (AARS) Garden. The Flower Fields is one of 130 AARS-accredited public gardens nationwide that tests and displays more than 50 different varieties of roses. We’ll return to Los Angeles and Universal City later today with the evening at leisure. Overnight Hilton Universal City.
Day 5 – Coast Starlight to Portland
This morning we’ll transfer to Los Angeles’ beautiful Union Station to board the famous Coast Starlight train. At 10:15 am, we’ll depart for the 1190-mile journey to Portland. Because you have private sleeping accommodations aboard the train, you will have exclusive access to the Pacific Parlour Car* with its overstuffed furniture, library, games, and afternoon wine tasting. The scenic highlights of the day include a number of mountain ranges and close to 100 miles of awesome Pacific Coastline. Overnight train. (L, D)
Day 6 – Portland
Set your own leisurely schedule today as you continue to enjoy all of the activities aboard this train. Don’t miss the spectacular scenery of the towering, snow-covered Cascade Mountains this morning. We’ll continue to roll northward this afternoon through the Willamette Valley, with a scheduled arrival in Portland at 3:40 pm. We’ll transfer to our hotel with the evening at leisure. Overnight Courtyard by Marriott Portland City Center. (B, L)
Day 7 – Lan Su Chinese Gardens
This morning we’ll visit the Lan Su Chinese Gardens, the mission of which is to cultivate an oasis of tranquil beauty and harmony to inspire, engage, and educate the global community in the appreciation of a richly authentic Chinese culture. The living collection at the Lan Su Chinese Garden presents hundreds of native Chinese plant species and forms. The Garden is home to more than 90 specimen trees, many rare and unusual shrubs and perennials, and signature collections that include Magnolia, Cymbidium, Camellia, Osmanthus, Rhododendron, and Bamboo.
Following an on-your-own lunch, we’ll continue to the International Rose Test Garden, one of 24 official testing sites for the internationally-respected “All-America Rose Selections” (AARS), a non-profit association of rose growers and introducers dedicated to the introduction and promotion of exceptional roses. Since 1938 the AARS seal of approval has graced outstanding new rose varieties that have performed the best in test gardens located throughout the country and representing all climate zones. AARS testing began here in 1940. See the Gold Medal Garden, a testing ground for new rose varieties, and the Shakespeare Garden, dedicated in 1945 and donated by the LaBarre Shakespeare Club. Return to the hotel later today with the evening at leisure. Overnight Courtyard by Marriott Portland City Center.
Day 8 – En Route to Vancouver
We’ll board a Cascade Service train for Seattle this morning. Settle in and enjoy the comfortable reclining coach seats and a Lounge/Bistro car where sandwiches, snacks, and beverages are available. Arrive in Seattle around noon and stop for lunch on your own at Pike Place Market. We’ll continue on to Vancouver, checking into your hotel upon arrival with the remainder of the evening at your leisure. Overnight Blue Horizon Hotel.
Day 9 – Butchart Gardens
This morning board a ferry for Victoria, North America’s most British city. If there is a highlight for this magnificent floral tour it’s the Butchart Gardens, a 35-acre tapestry of brilliant colors in a former limestone quarry. Spring bursts forth in a show of unparalleled beauty. One of the finest displays in the world heralds the season with hundreds of thousands of bulbs in bloom joined by a host of flowering trees and shrubs. Each year over 1,000,000 bedding plants in some 700 varieties are used throughout the Gardens to ensure uninterrupted bloom from March through October. At the time of our visit, 26 varieties of flowers are listed as “in bloom.” Overnight Blue Horizon Hotel.
Day 10 – Queen Elizabeth Park
Transfer the short distance to Queen Elizabeth Park this morning. This is Vancouver’s cultural jewel and holds within its perimeter some of the most beautiful public gardens anywhere. The seasonally changing and beautifully planted Quarry Gardens astound residents and tourists alike. The Park’s commanding location makes it the home base of a diverse number of attractions including one of Canada’s best arboretum’s and the Bloedel Floral Conservatory. Overnight Blue Horizon Hotel.
Day 11 – Depart Vancouver / Empire Builder to Chicago
The morning is yours to take in Vancouver’s sights on your own. At noon we’ll travel to Seattle, where you’ll board Amtrak’s Empire Builder at King Street Station for the journey to Chicago. Overnight train. (D)
Day 12 – En Route
Enjoy a delicious dining car breakfast and then head for the Sightseer Lounge car. About 8:00 am, the snow-covered Rocky Mountain peaks rise in the distance, becoming more dramatic as we approach Glacier National Park. The scenery is striking as we wind past waterfalls, river gorges and other sights. The rest of the day we’ll cross the remote flatlands of eastern Montana and western North Dakota. Overnight train. (B, L, D)
Day 13 – Tour Conclusion
After a brief stop in Minneapolis-St. Paul this morning, the train departs at 7:50 am for the journey south along the west bank of the Mississippi River, winding between the river bank and high bluffs en route to Chicago. Pass the Dells Country in Wisconsin, continuing into Illinois, arriving in Chicago late this afternoon where your floral adventure comes to an end.
*The Pacific Parlour Car occasionally requires being pulled for maintenance without notice.
Prices are land-only, per person. Prices are correct at the time of this web page going live; however are subject to confirmation at time of booking.