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Snow Zephyr - Chicago to San Francisco

4.0 stars(1 reviews)

See the best of the American West this winter as you travel from Chicago's winter wonderland to the shores of San Francisco.

You are viewing the 2021 itinerary. Select your departure year
5 days From $899 per person

2021 Tour code: TU-SZEW-21

About the tour

See the best of the American West this winter as you travel from Chicago's winter wonderland to the shores of San Francisco. Travel in the winter adds a bit of magic to any itinerary.

As your train travels west, you'll be awed by the plains and prairies of America's heartland blanketed in pristine snow. The Rocky and Sierra Nevada mountains flash their snow-capped peaks. And the mild northern California weather greets you at the end of your journey.

This 5-day winter train vacation includes two nights onboard Amtrak's California Zephyr as well as one night each in Chicago and San Francisco.


What’s included


Day 1 - Chicago's Winter Wonderland

Arrive in Chicago and spend the day exploring the city's most popular attractions, all dressed in their winter finest. Visit the Field Museum, the Adler Planetarium, the Shedd Aquarium, the Art Institute, Willis Tower, the John Hancock building, Navy Pier, and Water Tower among other famous city attractions. Take time to explore some of the city's unique neighborhoods, ice skate in Daley Plaza, or during the holidays visit the Christmas Markets or see the store windows on State Street decorated for the holidays. Overnight Chicago.

Day 2 - Depart Chicago aboard the California Zephyr

Arrive at Chicago's historic Union Station for your afternoon departure. Once onboard the iconic California Zephyr, settle into your accommodations as you begin your 2,400+ mile journey across the country to San Francisco. As the train slices through the plains of the Midwest, you may wish to visit the Observation Car or head to the Sightseer Lounge to meet some new friends and admire the winter scenes passing before you. Enjoy dinner in the Dining Car as you cross the icy Mississippi River. Overnight train. 

  • Dinner (Sleeping Car passengers only)
Day 3 - Westward Ho! California Zephyr and the Snow Covered Rockies

You'll awake this morning to a magnificent view of the snowy peaks of the Colorado Rockies on the horizon. Enjoy your breakfast in the dining car as the Zephyr climbs the front range of the Rockies and heads towards the Continental Divide. Visit the Sightseer Lounge to admire the winter wonderland. Keep an eye out for wildlife, especially when passing through the ski resort town of Winter Park. Overnight train.

  • Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner (Sleeping Car passengers only)
Day 4 - California Zephyr to San Francisco

Watch as the scenery changes from snowy mountains to canyons, lakes and greenery as you enter the final leg of your journey west. By mid-morning, your train arrives in "The Biggest Little City in the World," Reno, Nevada. Cross the border into California, climbing through the legendary Donner Pass, the high point in the northern Sierra Nevada Mountains. Your train is scheduled to arrive in Emeryville late this afternoon. A shuttle will be waiting to transfer you to the Ferry building in downtown San Francisco where you can catch a taxi to your hotel. Overnight San Francisco. 

  • Breakfast, Lunch (Sleeping Car passengers only)
Day 5 - Winter Escape in San Francisco

San Francisco is yours to explore today! During the holiday season, make a point of visiting the Dickens Christmas Fair to get you in the holiday spirit. Visit the shops and restaurants at Fisherman's Wharf. Hop on a trolley or enjoy a leisurely walk to others areas of the city. Don't miss Golden Gate Park, Chinatown, Telegraph Hill, and Jackson Square. Your rail adventure ends today; however, you may wish to extend your stay in San Francisco to further explore this vibrant city. 

Additional information

Pricing Plans

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 featuring two comfortable seats beside a picture window during the day, converting 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. All travelers have access to the Sightseer Lounge.

Roomette and Bedroom accommodations include all meals aboard the train. 

Please Note

*Arrival and Departure times are subject to change without notice. Please be advised that passengers traveling on California Zephyr Trains may encounter delays of approximately three to six hours due to heavy congestion, speed restrictions and other operating conditions.

Departure times

Departure times vary based on selected rail vacation. This information will be provided in your final documents. For more information please speak with your rail specialist.

Mobility information

Due to the nature of our tours they are generally unsuitable for those with restricted mobility. If you’d like to discuss any particular vacation with us in this respect, then please don’t hesitate to call us.


Palmer House Hilton, Chicago

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Hotel Riu Plaza Fisherman's Wharf, San Francisco

Hotel Riu Plaza Fisherman's Wharf, San Francisco

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4.0 stars4.0 / 5 · 1 review

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Lineke A, Stuart, FL

4 stars

Submitted 12 Mar 2018

We felt very pampered on board, accommodations were adequate, very clean and comfortable.

Collected by Vacations By Rail

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