Kaleidoscope of Winter Wonders
Start your year with a getaway to the winter wonders of the West Coast! Travel from Chicago, across the majestic Rocky Mountains aboard the legendary California Zephyr, to Sacramento.
Start your year with a getaway to the winter wonders of the West Coast! Travel from Chicago, across the majestic Rocky Mountains aboard the legendary California Zephyr, to Sacramento. From there your travels take you to Yosemite National Park to witness its awesome unspoiled displays of nature; sunny San Diego; picturesque Santa Barbara; and, the crown jewel of the Pacific Northwest, Seattle, before returning to Chicago aboard the iconic Empire Builder train.
Highlights and Inclusions
- Rail transportation aboard Amtrak's California Zephyr, Coast Starlight, and Empire Builder trains
- Private Roomette train accommodations for 5 nights
- First-class hotel accommodations for 6 nights
- 22 meals
- Sightseeing and scenic excursions per itinerary
- Services of a professional tour manager
- Baggage handling, taxes and service charges
Scenic Highlights Include:
- Colorado Rockies
- El Capitan
- Half Dome
- Balboa Park
- Mission Santa Barbara
- Puget Sound
- Pike Place Market
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 towering 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
Today's awesome winter scenery is almost as spectacular as yesterday's when we traveled through Colorado. The Zephyr leaves the rugged terrain and pine trees behind as the landscape changes to 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 Hampton Inn and Suites, Merced. (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. Overnight Hampton Inn and Suites, Merced.
**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, we 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 is at the Branding Iron Restaurant. Overnight Courtyard by Marriott. (L, D)
Day 5 - En Route to 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 and Olympic Mountains from the 520-foot high observation deck. Following lunch on your own, we'll 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 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)
Train and Hotel Accommodations
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 that features two comfortable seats beside a picture window during the day, which converts 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. Overnight train accommodations include all meals aboard the train and access to the Sightseer Lounge car.
+Vacations By Rail can supply connecting rail from your closest Amtrak Station.
Dates & Prices
Select from the packages below to view prices for this tour.
|6th February 2015||$2,995||Book Now|
|6th February 2015||$4,490||Book Now|
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Included Roomette: Departs 6th February 2015 ($2,995)
Bedroom Upgrade: Departs 6th February 2015 ($4,490)