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Grand Tour of America

You are viewing the 2025 itinerary. Select your departure year
18 days From £5,495 per person
4.5 stars(30 reviews)
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Discover America’s most iconic sights, cities, and natural wonders on this epic journey from laid-back San Francisco to dynamic New York

Mobility Rating 2

2025 Tour code: SUG25

About the tour

Join us on an epic tour across the monumental United States, a once-in-a-lifetime journey to some of America's most celebrated cities - San Francisco, Las Vegas, Chicago and New York - visiting iconic landmarks including Monument Valley, Yosemite, the Grand Canyon and Niagara Falls.

This incredible journey also features legendary trains - Amtrak's California Zephyr takes us from Grand Junction through the Rockies to Chicago, the Durango-Silverton heritage railway transports us on a breathtaking trip past canyons and emerald lakes, and the Lake Shore Limited train skims Lake Erie as we travel overnight from Chicago to Buffalo, New York.

Unforgettable experiences

Soaking up the sunshine and incredible sights in San Francisco
Soaking up the sunshine and incredible sights in San Francisco
On a guided tour of this sunshine city, experience the feeling of cinematic images coming to life – Golden Gate Bridge, Alcatraz island, historic streetcars and buzzing Fisherman's Wharf, our base for two nights.
Riding America’s legendary railways
Riding America’s legendary railways
Ride on some of America’s most scenic rail routes aboard world-famous trains, including Amtrak’s famous California Zephyr, the historic Durango-Silverton Railway, Lake Shore Limited and the Grand Canyon Railway.
Explore New York on guided tours with a local expert
Explore New York on guided tours with a local expert
Discover iconic sights, seeing the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island from a cruise into Manhattan Harbour, then touring Central Park, the Rockefeller Centre, Theatre District, World Trade Centre site, and New York’s famous neighbourhoods.
Exploring Chicago by water, on a Chicago Architecture Cruise
Exploring Chicago by water, on a Chicago Architecture Cruise
One of the most popular boat tours in North America, this enticing cruise showcases Chicago’s remarkable cityscape from the water as we glide along the Chicago River beside a canyon of colossal towers.
Grand Canyon, one of the Wonders of the World
Grand Canyon, one of the Wonders of the World
Experience the staggering scale and beauty of the Grand Canyon. Created millions of years ago by the powerful Colorado River, this awe-inspiring canyon is 277 miles long, up to 18 miles wide, and a mile deep.
Touring the highlights of Yosemite National Park
Touring the highlights of Yosemite National Park
One of America’s best-loved National Parks, Yosemite is known for its distinctive rocks, tumbling waterfalls, and ancient sequoias. We visit its famous granite rocks – Half Dome and El Capitan – and the mesmerising Bridalveil Falls.
Discover majestic Niagara, one of the world’s greatest waterfalls
Discover majestic Niagara, one of the world’s greatest waterfalls
Witness the incredible power and exhilarating mist of one of the world’s greatest waterfalls close up, exploring the site at leisure on an overnight stay next to this majestic spectacle.
Spend two nights on the glittering Las Vegas Strip
Spend two nights on the glittering Las Vegas Strip
Be dazzled during a stay in the surreal world of Las Vegas, its flamboyant replicas of world famous sites, its brazen glamour, and endless range of entertainment.

What’s included


Day 1 - Flying to San Francisco

Our Grand Tour of America begins at London Heathrow, where we meet our Tour Manager and group of fellow travellers before boarding a daytime flight to the vibrant city of San Francisco.

Arriving in the late afternoon we are transferred to our hotel on the iconic Fisherman's Wharf, our base for the next two nights. With its harbourside charms and laid-back culture, bohemian San Francisco is one of America's best-loved cities and we are perfectly placed between the buzzing centre and the relaxed waterside. Tonight is free to dine independently and you might be tempted to order the catch of the day at one of the family-owned seafood restaurants which have been serving locals and tourists for decades. Besides seafood restaurants, you'll find historic steakhouses, traditional Italian trattorias and cafés that serve up irresistible desserts.

Day 2 - Getting to know San Francisco

We're introduced to San Franciso on a guided tour this morning. Among other landmarks, we see the amazing Golden Gate Bridge, built in the 1930s. Our tour ends at Fisherman's Wharf where there's time for a quick lunch before our cruise to the island of Alcatraz. Here, we take a self-guided tour of this fascinating public museum, once an 'escape-proof' maximum-security prison housing notorious criminals such as Al Capone and the 'Birdman of Alcatraz'. Back on land, the rest of today is yours to explore. Nearby is the city's Maritime Museum, Little Italy - around historic Washington Square, Chinatown, and iconic San Francisco institutions such as The Beat Museum, City Lights Bookshop and San Francisco Railway Museum.

You could take a nostalgic ride on a heritage streetcar or cable car, from Fisherman's Wharf to Union Square, Downtown - a historic hub since the San Francisco Gold Rush. Telegraph Hill, a few blocks from our hotel, is recognisable by the slender Coit Tower, which crowns the park and has panoramic views of the city and Golden Gate Bridge. To reach this famous look out point, 'Muni' buses run from Fisherman's Wharf directly up to the tower.

Day 3 - Exploring Yosemite National Park with a local guide

Making an early start this morning we are transferred by coach to Oakland station where we board an Amtrak train for a scenic journey inland to mountainous Merced, a city in Merced County. From here, we transfer to El Portal, at the entrance to Yosemite National Park, meeting our guide enroute, for a 3-hour tour of its wonderful sights.

One of America's most stunning areas of natural beauty, Yosemite is known for its distinctive rocks, tumbling waterfalls and ancient redwood trees. After free time to find lunch independently, our afternoon tour of the Yosemite Valley begins. Our guide shows us Yosemite's main highlights: Half Dome, a well-known rock formation with a distinctive shape, the 3,000-foot El Capitan - a huge rock face popular with climbers - and the spectacular Bridalveil Falls. We return to Merced, where we check in to our hotel in the heart of the town for the night. Tonight you are free to dine independently. Our hotel offers an in-house restaurant which is highly rated, and there is a good choice of places to eat within easy walking distance.

Day 4 - Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas

Setting out early this morning, we board our Amtrak service and head south to Bakersfield, an area of orchards and agricultural fields in the California's Big Valley. From Bakersfield we continue by coach, passing the Sierra Nevada mountains, then travelling across the atmospheric Mojave Desert to the Las Vegas, a thriving metropolis which rises from the flat desert plains.

On arrival at the end of the afternoon, we check into our 4-Star hotel, the Planet Hollywood Resort & Casino, for two nights - ideally situated on the glittering Las Vegas Strip. With outdoor pools and an incredible choice of restaurants, Planet Hollywood is everything you might expect from a Las Vegas hotel, and more. It is also directly connected to the 'Miracle Mile' of upmarket shops, restaurants and live theatres in the Strip.

Day 5 - Viva Las Vegas, free time to explore the city

You're free to explore the incredible world of Las Vegas at your own pace today, and there's plenty to discover. The Las Vegas Monorail system is a quick and easy way to explore the four-mile Strip of fantastic resorts and spectacular sights, with top-class shows, excellent restaurants, and a dazzling selection of entertainment to choose from.

Among the Strip's most famous sights are the Fountains of Bellagio, the Pyramid at the Luxor - recognisable by its piercing beam of light and its Skypod observation tower - the replica Eiffel Tower at the Paris casino hotel, and the Campanile at the Venetian Resort, a glamorous tribute to the architecture of Venice with Baroque-inspired murals and colonnades of solid Botticino marble.

You are spoilt for choice when it comes to eating out in Vegas. Options range from French or Italian fine dining to Brazilian steakhouses and Japanese sushi, from Contemporary Asian food to great burgers, pizzas and traditional Mexican.

Day 6 - Leaving Las Vegas, via the Hoover Dam to Flagstaff

Today, we leave the fantasy landscape of Las Vegas and return to nature, heading across Nevada to the border with Arizona, where we stop at the Hoover Dam viewing point, 30 miles southeast of Las Vegas. Harnessing the power of the mighty Colorado River in Black Canyon, the dam is an impressive example of American hydropower and engineering.

Entering Arizona, we take the legendary Route 66, stopping for lunch enroute then following this famous road until Flagstaff, where we spend two nights at the Little America Hotel, set in a mountainous area amid 500 acres of Ponderosa Pine forest. After checking in to our hotel there's time to look around this vibrant university town, and to dine independently this evening. The town has some lively music venues, coffee shops and restaurants offering diverse dishes - Thai, Mexican, American and Italian - created from locally-sourced produce.

Day 7 - Route 66, a heritage trip on the Grand Canyon Railway, and viewing the incredible Grand Canyon from the South Rim

Our day starts with a drive along the legendary Route 66 to Williams, where we board the Grand Canyon Railway for a trip to one of the world's most spectacular natural wonders. Travelling in carriages hauled by historic locomotives, we may be joined by musicians and entertainers enroute.

On arrival at the South Rim, we have free time over lunch to bask in the breathtaking beauty of the Grand Canyon. Created millions of years ago by the power of the Colorado River, this awe-inspiring canyon is 277 miles long, up to 18 miles wide, and a mile deep. There are restaurants for lunch, and a gift shop overlooking the canyon. You could stroll along a section of the paved South Rim Trail to enjoy the views. There are look-out points along the way, such as Mojave Point.

The Grand Canyon is a spiritual place for the local Native Americans, the Hopi people, who consider it a gateway to the afterlife. You can learn more about their history in the charming adobe building that showcases Hopi arts and crafts. We return to Flagstaff by coach in late afternoon with a free evening to explore the town and find dinner, or unwind at our hotel.

Day 8 - Monument Valley and Goosenecks State Park

We set off early by coach this morning, travelling through desolate Navajo country to Utah's Monument Valley. We stop just outside Flagstaff for a short break in a town called Cameron, where you may like to have brunch. We continue through the stunning yet familiar desert landscape of Monument Valley, the backdrop of so many American Western movies. The entire region has the feeling of a bygone era, where cowboys still spend lonely months herding cattle across miles of untouched hills and Native Americans perform age-old rituals. After around two hours of travelling we stop for lunch at a small town, or at the Monument Valley Visitor Centre.

We continue to Gooseneck State Park, recognisable by its long, narrow river which forms a bowl. We stop at a scenic point here before driving to Twin Rocks Trading Post, then on to the Colorado mountain town of Durango, arriving late afternoon. After checking in to our hotel for the night we have a free evening ahead. The town is known for its vibrant art scene, and offers a choice of tempting eating places including steakhouses, an Italian kitchen and classic American diners.

Day 9 - A nostalgic trip on the Durango and Silverton Railroad

After a hearty hotel breakfast, we take a short walk from our hotel to board the Durango and Silverton Railroad* for a journey through breathtaking canyons, past emerald-green rivers and dense forests. The line connects Durango with the mining town of Silverton and incredibly, has been in continuous use since its inception more than 130 years ago. We have free time over lunch in the 'Old West' town of Silverton, surrounded by the impressive San Juan Mountains, part of the Rocky Mountain range.

Our journey continues by coach from Silverton to Grand Junction, a city nestled in Colorado's fruit growing area, where we arrive this afternoon to spend the night. Staying in a downtown hotel, you are free to try one of the many restaurants on Main Street for dinner. Grand Junction is known for its fresh, tasty, locally-grown produce and regional wines, and eating options range from traditional American fare to a range of Asian food.

*Please note: During the early part of the season the Durango & Silverton Railroad operates a winter timetable. During this period we enjoy a journey from Durango to Cascade Canyon by rail.

Day 10 - A scenic overnight journey on Amtrak’s California Zephyr

After a hotel buffet breakfast we transfer to Grand Junction Railway Station to set out on one of America's most famous rail journeys, travelling aboard Amtrak's legendary California Zephyr. This historic train was first launched in 1949 and ran along three railroads - the Burlington, the Rio Grande and the Western Pacific - until 1970. Today's California Zephyr service follows the same spectacular route. With a whole day and overnight on the train, we have lunch onboard and you may like to spend some time in the Observation Car as we travel through dramatic scenery from Colorado to Chicago.

Our picturesque journey takes us into the superb landscapes of the Rocky Mountains, through the heart of Colorado's wine region as we head towards Chicago. Enjoying Amtrak's Roomette service, while dinner is served in the dining carriage our roomettes are set up by staff for sleeping.

Day 11 - Arriving into the great city of Chicago

Our train rumbles towards Chicago and, while breakfast is served in the dining cars, our sleeping accommodation is changed back to comfortable seating. Towards late morning, a few hours before arriving in the city, we cross the landmark steel bridge which spans the mighty Mississippi River, marking our arrival into Illinois.

We arrive in Chicago's historic Union Station after lunch, where we are transferred by coach to our hotel in the heart of the city. Once we have checked in you are free for the rest of the day to start exploring this great city. Our hotel is set on the Magnificent Mile, the city's premium which stretches along the Chicago River and features an outstanding range of city attractions, glittering high rises, shops and restaurants.

The rest of the afternoon and evening is yours to explore this exhilarating city. For dinner, Chicago is renowned as the home of the deep-dish pizza and there are many Italian American restaurants along with a variety of cuisine from across the world.

Day 12 - Chicago Architecture Cruise and free time to explore

Today, we enjoy a Chicago Architecture Cruise along the Chicago River, viewing some of the city's most historic skyscrapers including the Wrigley Building, Tribune Tower and the Willis Tower, formerly the Sears Tower, which held the title of the world's tallest building until 1998. Our cruise boat offers an interesting perspective as we glide through a canyon of glass and steel on a fully narrated tour, hearing about the city's history and tales of the people who helped shape Chicago's skyline.

Our cruise ends at the riverwalk, where there are plenty of restaurants to choose for lunch, within walking distance from our hotel. Instead, you could transfer back there on the coach. With an afternoon and evening at leisure, you could visit the Willis Tower's Skydeck to view Chicago from above. Or maybe take the train up to Wrigley Field for a tour of the baseball stadium, enjoy a riverside walk, or indulge in a spot of shopping on the Magnificent Mile or on upmarket East Oak Street.

Day 13 - Free day in the magnificent city of Chicago

We are free to explore Chicago further today, and there are sure to be many more incredible city sights to discover. The city is designed in a grid system so is easy to navigate, on foot if you are feeling energetic, or you could join one of the city's Hop On-Hop Off bus tours. Alternatively, you might like to visit one of the wonderful museums and galleries around the Magnificent Mile area. The Newberry is one of Chicago's best-loved historic and cultural institutions, situated near Washington Square Park and free to visit. Meanwhile, the Art Institute of Chicago has an outstanding collection of contemporary work from world-renowned artists.

Chicago is also known for its popular green spaces, such as Millennium Park, the Maggie Daley Park, and Lake View Park on the waterfront of Lake Michigan. After time to enjoy a last dinner on our own in the city, this evening we board Amtrak's Lake Shore Limited service for an overnight rail journey from Chicago to Buffalo, close to the Niagara Falls. The train leaves at 9.30pm and our roomettes will be ready for us.

Day 14 - Experiencing the tremendous Niagara Falls

Our train rolls into the US city of Buffalo today and we are transferred by coach to our hotel, around 45 minutes away, on the American side of the spectacular Niagara Falls, where we spend the night. After dropping our bags off there's free time to find lunch or possibly to pick up something for a picnic, before wandering down to the Niagara Falls State Park nearby, to see this awe-inspiring natural wonder.

It is possible to book a cruise boat for an exhilarating trip to the base of the powerful falls, feeling the thunderous roar and fine mist on your face. Or maybe stroll along the walkway to a scenic viewpoint and soak up the immense natural beauty of the location. The Top of the Falls restaurant has a view of the Horseshoe Falls, one of the most dramatic sections of the Falls, and is open for lunch and dinner.

Dinner is taken independently again this evening, and there are plenty of eating options nearby or at our hotel restaurant, which serves classic American fare.

Day 15 - Arrival in the buzzing metropolis of New York City

We transfer to Buffalo by coach where we board the train to cosmopolitan New York, an adrenaline-charged metropolis bursting with some of the world's greatest art, culture, cuisine and history. The route sees us head east from Buffalo to New York State's capital, Albany. From here we follow the course of the Hudson River straight into New York City. Arriving in Penn Station, we are taken to our fabulous hotel in the heart of the City, Times Square. With its revolving dining room offering spectacular views of the famous Manhattan skyline, and its location in the heart of vibrant New York City, it's easy to understand why this 4-Star hotel is our customers' favourite North American hotel.

The evening is yours, to either unwind or head out into the 'city that never sleeps'. At the point where Broadway intersects with 7th Avenue, Times Square is the beating heart of New York's entertainment district. A glittering display of billboards cast their sparkle across the square while an array of famous theatres lines Broadway. In such a global city, your dining options are virtually unlimited.

Day 16 - New York, New York

Today we set out on a guided tour of the 'Big Apple', discovering some of New York's most familiar sights. We take a harbour cruise around the iconic Manhattan Harbour. We pass America's emblematic Statue of Liberty, and Ellis Island, the point of entry for more than 12 million immigrants searching for the American Dream.

Returning to land, we transfer to Grand Central Station, a fantastic place to look around, where there's free time over lunch before an afternoon tour of Manhattan's renowned sights. We visit Central Park, a vast and peaceful space in the buzzing metropolis, the Rockefeller Centre, the Theatre District, the World Trade Centre site, and other neighbourhoods of New York City.

The rest of your day is at leisure. In Midtown Manhattan nearby, you'll find New York's impressive Museum of Modern Art and the shops of 5th Avenue. When it's time for dinner, New York offers a seemingly unlimited choice. To mark the final night of our Grand Tour of America, you may like to catch a show on Broadway, a dance performance at the New York City Ballet, or maybe see some live jazz at the Lincoln Centre.

Day 17 - Homeward bound

Our last morning in this exciting city is free to spend as you wish, maybe revisiting special places or discovering new ones, until after lunch, when - to borrow a line from the great American song duo, Simon and Garfunkel - we are homeward bound. Bidding a fond farewell to New York and the US, we transfer to the airport for our evening flight to London Heathrow.

Day 18 - Arrival in London Heathrow

After touching down in London Heathrow this morning, it's time to say our goodbyes to new friends and our Tour Manager, before making our way home. Memories of these last three weeks, from America's epic scenery - Monument Valley, the Grand Canyon and the Niagara Falls - to the unique energy and character of its great cities, are sure to remain with you.

Additional information

Please note

Please note that while every departure of this tour will feature the same excursions, the order may differ from that shown above.

Departure times

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.

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 holiday with us in this respect, then please don’t hesitate to call us.


Hampton Inn Chicago Magnificent Mile, Chicago

Hampton Inn Chicago Magnificent Mile, Chicago

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Best Western Plus Rio Grande Inn, Durango

Best Western Plus Rio Grande Inn, Durango

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Little America Hotel, Flagstaff

Little America Hotel, Flagstaff

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Hampton Inn, Grand Junction

Hampton Inn, Grand Junction

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Planet Hollywood Resort and Casino, Las Vegas

Planet Hollywood Resort and Casino, Las Vegas

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El Capitan Hotel, Merced

El Capitan Hotel, Merced

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New York Marriott Marquis

New York Marriott Marquis, New York

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Hyatt Place, Niagara Falls

Hyatt Place, Niagara Falls

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Hyatt Centric Fisherman’s Wharf, San Francisco

Hyatt Centric Fisherman’s Wharf, San Francisco

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4.5 stars4.5 / 5 · 30 reviews

  1. 5 stars
  2. 4 stars
  3. 3 stars
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  5. 1 star

Paul Richards

5 stars

Submitted 7/Jun

A fantastic trip across America experiencing the diversity of the country from mist and fog in San Francisco to the heat of Las Vegas and snow at Silverton in the mountains. Martin our tour manager was very knowledgeable and experienced and gave information about the places we visited plus suggestions for places to eat. Some early starts some days but to be expected with all that was packed into the tour. Would definitely recommend but you are living out of a suitcase for nearly 3 weeks so think about what you are going to take with you.

from Great Rail Journeys
Hi Paul, Thank you for taking the time to leave a review. It is wonderful to hear that you had such a fantastic trip! I will make sure to pass your lovely feedback across to Martin. Sophie.
1 comment

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Oliver Davis

5 stars

Submitted 6/Jun

Great range of cities and landscapes, a fast-paced trek across the middle of America under the expert guidance of a seasoned tour manager, a truly memorable experience.

from Great Rail Journeys
Hi Oliver, Thank you for taking the time to leave a review. I'm very happy to hear that you had such a memorable experience and that you enjoyed the range of locations! Sophie
No problem at all. Worth every penny! Oliver

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C Stanley

4 stars

Submitted 6/Jun

Excellent Tour Guide. Busy tour that covered a lot of ground. Only let down by back office staff failings.

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Mr Richard Wheeler

5 stars

Submitted 28 Sep 2023

A brilliant tour

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4 stars

Submitted 18 Jul 2023

The tour was everything we hoped for and more and Adrian, our tour guide was fantastic. It was tiring but we expected that and what we saw and experienced more than made up for it. The only problem we faced was breakfast early on in the tour. I recommend anyone going on this tour take some food of your own to keep you going. Also, non meat-eaters beware, finding suitable food can be tricky at times (but that's a probem with the USA not GRJ!)

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4 stars

Submitted 13 Jun 2023

An excellent tour let down by an annoying tour manager who was patronising, talked incessantly, didn't listen, seemed to think she was the only one entitled to speak and at times even gave wrong information.

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