Discover the iconic sights of America's west coast
Awe-inspiring scenery at the Grand Canyon and Yosemite contrasts with the glitz and glamour of Las Vegas on this truly sparkling holiday. Combine that with the charming towns and pretty scenery of the Golden State, stunning scenic daytime railway journeys, the Grand Canyon and the magic of Hollywood for a truly unforgettable experience.
We depart London Heathrow on our flight to San Francisco, for a two-night stay at the Westin St Francis.
We begin our stay in San Francisco with a sightseeing tour, visiting some of the cosmopolitan city's most famous sights, including the Golden Gate Bridge and popular Fisherman's Wharf.
This afternoon we board a ferry at Pier 33 and cross San Francisco Bay to the infamous island of Alcatraz. Our tour takes us into the prison to see the cells as they were when it was operational, as well as examples of some escape attempts.
This morning we depart from Oakland by train on the San Joaquin route through California's Central Valley, bordered on the west by the coastal mountain ranges and on the east by Yosemite National Park.
At Turlock we transfer by coach into Yosemite for a tour of the Valley Floor, taking in spectacular views of Half Dome at the eastern end of Yosemite Valley, which peaks at 4,000 feet above the valley, the 3,000 ft El Capitan and the thundering Bridalveil Falls. We spend tonight in the Farifield Inn Turlock.
We rejoin the San Joaquin today as we travel to Bakersfield. From here we continue by coach across the Mojave Desert, passing small, isolated villages and abandoned ghost towns. Eventually, the tall buildings and bright lights of Las Vegas appear on the horizon.
Las Vegas is, for many people, the most spectacular city in the world. With a free day here you can explore the amazing sights and spectacles of the resorts, which offer something for everyone, with top class shows and an extraordinary selection of entertainment choices on your doorstep, including the world-famous casinos and theatres. The Las Vegas monorail is a great way to explore the exotic delights of the Strip, from the African-themed Sahara Hotel to the MGM Grand, via resorts with Oriental, Roman and Parisian themes, as well as Las Vegas' version of Venice - a veritable world tour without need for your passport!
Today we travel across Nevada to Arizona, via the Hoover Dam, an engineering masterpiece which was completed in 1936 to end the flooding caused by the Colorado River. Entering Arizona, we drive on the legendary Route 66 to the railroad town of Williams, where we spend the night at the Grand Canyon Railway Hotel.
Today we travel by rail to the incredible Grand Canyon on board the Grand Canyon Railway. We travel in vintage carriages hauled by historic locomotives to see one of the world's most awe inspiring sights, the Grand Canyon. We arrive at the South Rim, the Canyon's main viewpoint and an ideal base to experience the dramatic vistas - as spectacular here as they are anywhere else.
We return to Williams on the Grand Canyon Railway, and this evening we drive to Flagstaff where we join Amtrak's overnight Southwest Chief service to Los Angeles, passing through the heart of the eastern side of the USA.
This morning the Southwest Chief continues through Fullerton in Orange County and passes the sprawling suburbs of Los Angeles before reaching Union Station. Our first stop in Los Angeles is Hollywood, home of the US movie industry. You have some free time here, which gives you chance to walk in the footsteps of the stars on the Walk of Fame on Hollywood Boulevard, one of America's most famous streets.
Later today we travel to Long Beach for one night on board the RMS Queen Mary. The ship, which is now a hotel, has a fascinating history as a luxury ocean liner and as a U-boat dodging, high-speed troop carrier during the Second World War. Your evening is free to spend enjoying the many attractions of Long Beach.
This morning we travel on board the iconic Coast Starlight for a daytime journey along the stunning Pacific coast shoreline. We reach the Pacific Coast at Ventura, at which point the Coast Starlight begins to head north, hugging the coastline and following the Pacific Coast Highway. Relax in the sightseer lounge and enjoy spectacular views through floor-to-ceiling windows of vast stretches of pristine beaches as the train hugs the rugged coast north of Santa Barbara. Entering the Salinas Valley we pass the Santa Lucia and Diablo mountain ranges en route to Salinas, from where we make a short coach transfer to Monterey for three nights at the Casa Munras Hotel & Spa.
We explore the wonderful Californian coastline today, including the exclusive residences of 17 Mile Drive and the attractive waterfront of Cannery Row, made famous by John Steinbeck in his 1945 novel 'Cannery Row'. We also visit Carmel, where Clint Eastwood was once mayor, a charming town that has attracted artists for decades, and explore the Big Sur, where the Pacific coastline rises dramatically into the magnificent Santa Lucia Mountains.
Day 11 is at leisure in Monterey. You could visit Stevenson House, former home of author and poet Robert Louis Stevenson.
This morning we transfer by coach to San Francisco Airport for our flight back to London, arriving on Day 13 where your tour concludes.
Please note that while every departure of this tour will feature the same excursions, the order may differ from that shown above.
Provisional departure and return times, where available, can be found together with our dates and prices by clicking on the 'Prices & Availability' button. We write to all booked customers approximately 10 weeks prior to the start of their tour to advise the exact departure and return time for their particular group.
of travellers would recommend this tour
based on 11 verified reviews
A very well-planned holiday taking in all the must-see sites yet allowing time for our own activities. An enjoyable group of people, good weather, and an excellent tour manager!
A very comprehensive itinerary covering lots of different experience Would have liked some meals included particularly breakfast as it was often difficult to plan or predict when and where you would be able to eat and we ended up doing a lot of snacking
Every experience during the holiday exceeded expectations
Fabulous and so well organised. Every day was great and we like that there is thought given to including enough free time in each place. We like Great Rail Journeys very much having done two this year! We had Peter as our Tour Manager and he looked after us all brilliantly! He certainly made all the travel very smooth and easy. Thanks go to him. Great area to enjoy. Thoroughly recommended.
Excellent throughout and great tour manager
Thought the tour was well put together . Our tour manager was outstanding .
The holiday took us everywhere that was promised. What was not made clear was the very stressful schedule, three very early starts and several long days. The overnight train experience was even more unpleasant than we had feared. The American attitude to tipping was also a very unpleasant surprise.
Generally a good well organised holiday but not having any food included (not even breakfast) added a lot of extra expense and a lot of stress and hassle due to having to worry where to eat - and when to eat. Often arriving late at hotels and having to leave early in the morning made eating out even more difficult.
holiday of a life time finished to soon
Fantastically varied trip, some excellent accommodation, some quite average. Virgin flights a nightmare - either late or cancelled.
Discover the iconic sights of America's west coast