Call to book01904 521 936
Tour Search

Trans-America: New York to San Francisco by Rail


Explore the USA on a 15-day stateside adventure by rail

15 days From £2,735 per person
This is an independent non-escorted holiday

2022 Tour code: QNS22

About the tour

Explore the USA from New York to San Francisco, on a 15-day stateside adventure by rail. Starting in New York City, travel on iconic Amtrak rail routes between fascinating and unique cities en route, including Washington D.C, Chicago, Denver and Salt Lake City.


Request a quote
  • Call for quote

What’s included


Day 1 - London to New York

Board your flight from London to New York. If you arrive with time to spare, you could start exploring once you've checked into your hotel.

If you do choose to head out, a lively bar culture, a range of jazz clubs and live music venues and a huge selection of Broadway and off-Broadway theatre options await. It's easy to see why it's known as 'the city that never sleeps'.

Another option this evening is to explore Manhattan's world-famous Chinatown for world-class cuisine, whether you're looking for street food or a more formal sit down meal.

Day 2 - New York

Spend some time on a guided tour of the city. New York boasts several world-famous sights, and an expert-led tour is a great way to experience the highlights in a short amount of time. You take in Central Park, Fifth Avenue and so much more, with your local expert providing more information about the fascinating history surrounding each.

Spend your free time visiting these sights again in more detail, or search out new experiences. The Statue of Liberty, the Empire State Building, the Guggenheim, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Greenwich Village and more await!

Day 3 - New York to Washington D.C.

Leave New York behind as you travel to Washington D.C, the nation's capital and home of the US seat of government.

After checking into your hotel, a guided city tour awaits. The dome of the US Capitol, Presidents Park, the gleaming facade of the White House, the tree-lined National Mall and the Washington Monument obelisk are instantly recognisable sights - your guide takes you through the history of each.

In the evening, why not spend some time amongst the bars and restaurants of the Golden Triangle neighbourhood, or explore the historic Georgetown district further?

Day 4 - Washington D.C. to Chicago

You have some free time in Washington D.C this morning, which you could use to visit the world-renowned Smithsonian Museum complex, the National Gallery of Art or the National Portrait Gallery.

Alternatively, you could pay a visit to the Arlington National Cemetery, resting place of soldiers who have fought in the nation's conflicts, from the US Civil War onwards. Contained within the cemetery grounds is President John F. Kennedy's grave, the memorial amphitheatre and the moving Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.

Later in the afternoon, board the Amtrak Capitol Limited service, for the overnight journey to Chicago.

Day 5 - Chicago

You're free to explore Chicago before boarding the California Zephyr overnight service to Denver this evening.

'The Windy City' sits on the shores of Lake Michigan, and is famous for its city skyline. Get classic views over the famous skyscrapers (including the famous Sears Tower) with a boat tour on Lake Michigan, or experience them by foot on the Chicago Riverwalk or at Belmont Harbor.

You might also like to go in search of the perfect Chicago deep dish pizza. Locals swear by its superiority to thinner-crust New York pizza. Try it, and make up your own mind.

Day 6 - Denver

Spend the day exploring the 'Mile High City'. Originally founded as a gold rush town, Denver is now a trendy metropolis where skyscrapers meet old-world streets.

The main sights you could see here include the cafes and boutiques surrounding historic Larimer Square and LoDo,the Denver Botanic Gardens, Union Station and Denver Art Museum.

If you're keen to get outdoors, take a trip out to Red Rock Park for stunning walking trails through distinctive rock formations, all in beautiful red and orange hues. Take the Trading Post Trail for a short hike, or explore the park's natural rock amphitheatre.

Day 7 - Denver

You have another day free to explore Denver. You could spend some time exploring the unique urban Confluence Park, where you can also take a Denver Trolley ride along the scenic South Platte River. Alternatively, head to Coors Field for a spot of baseball, a bar exactly a mile from sea level and views over the mountains.

In more recent times, Denver has become known as a centre of the craft beer movement. Aficionados should take a look at the Denver Beer Trail to explore offerings from some of the USA's best regarded craft breweries.

Day 8 - Denver to Grand Junction

Board your train in Denver for a journey through the Rockies to the outdoorsy city of Grand Junction, Colorado. Enjoy dramatic views over stunning mountain landscapes en route - if you're lucky, you might catch a glimpse of some iconic Rocky Mountains wildlife.

Grand Junction is at the centre of Colorado's wine country. As such, there are plenty of vineyard tours and wine tasting rooms to explore when you arrive. You might also like to find out more about the area's frontier heritage at the Museum of the West, or simply enjoy the surrounding scenery on one of many walking trails.

Day 9 - Colorado National Monument and the California Zephyr

Colorado National Monument is a national park dedicated to the landscape of the American West. A stunning area full of canyons and eye-catching red rock formations, the park is home to Grand Mesa, the largest flat-topped mountain in the world.

Spend some time taking in the beauty of the park via walking trail, keeping your eye out for desert bighorn sheep, mule deer, grey foxes and chipmunks. You might also like to visit the Saddlehorn Visitor Centre to find out more about the area's geology and history.

Board the California Zephyr in the afternoon towards Salt Lake City.

Day 10 - Salt Lake City

Salt Lake City is a fascinating city with a unique Mormon heritage and plenty of frontier history to explore.

Experience the main sights on a guided tour this morning, before spending some more time exploring further. You could head to Temple Square to hear the world-famous Tabernacle Organ play, visit the magnificent Cathedral of the Madeleine, take a trip to the US Civil War outpost Fort Douglas or visit the key sites of the 2002 Winter Olympics.

Also of note is the Territorial Council Hall, where the first woman in the USA cast her vote in 1920.

Day 11 - Salt Lake City

This evening, you board your overnight train to San Francisco on the final leg of your journey. The rest of the day is yours to explore Salt Lake City at leisure, taking in the sights you missed yesterday.

You could spend the day learning more about the city's frontier and western heritage. Visit the reconstructed Pioneer Village, follow in the footsteps of the USA's first postal service on the Pony Express National Historic Trail, or perhaps take a safari tour out of town in search of the Utah Desert's wild mustang herds.

Day 12 - San Francisco

With attractive Victorian streets leading down to a pleasant harbour, San Francisco offers plenty to explore - most of which is reachable by its iconic cable tram network.

You're free to explore this laid-back, liberal city at your own pace. You could head to the Haight Ashbury district, birthplace of the 1960s counterculture movement, where echoes remain to this day. Film buffs will enjoy a visit to the Castro Theater, one of a handful of 1920s movie palaces operational today.

A harbour cruise at sunset, perhaps with dinner, is a perfect way to end your day of sightseeing.

Day 13 - San Francisco

Your day begins with a guided tour. Starting in Pier 39, a popular shopping district filled with arcades and restaurants, your tour guide introduces you to the impressive sights of the city. Taking in views over the Golden Gate Bridge and exploring Fisherman's Wharf, an area famous for its sea lions are some of the highlights.

With some free time in the afternoon, why not pay a visit to the famous island of Alcatraz by boat? Once an 'escape-proof' maximum security prison housing notorious criminals such as Al Capone, today Alcatraz is a fascinating public museum.

Day 14 - San Francisco to London

After a final morning in San Francisco, transfer to the airport for your flight back to London.

Day 15 - London

Your holiday concludes as your flight lands in London.

Additional information

Visa requirements
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.


Amtrak Trains

Enhance your holiday


Flight upgrades

Tailor made for you

Customise this tour with Great Rail Journeys Independent

Trans-America: New York to San Francisco by Rail

Explore the USA on a 15-day stateside adventure by rail


James Starkie