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Iconic America - Cities, Canyons & Valleys

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19 days From £4,995 per person
4.5 stars(68 reviews)
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Embark on the ultimate USA adventure, from New York to Los Angeles, visiting iconic and evocative locations in this wonderfully diverse country

Mobility Rating 3

2025 Tour code: USG25

About the tour

Experience a once-in-a-lifetime journey as we travel from ocean to glimmering ocean across the USA, from dazzling Times Square to the Hollywood Hills. Enjoy guided tours of America's great cities, including New York, Washington DC, Chicago and Los Angeles, with cruises around Manhattan and the Chicago River.

Travel overnight from Chicago to Grand Junction in Colorado, crossing desert landscapes and taking the famous Route 66 to Las Vegas then on to Los Angeles. Soak up the spellbinding beauty of incredible natural wonders including the Grand Canyon and Monument Valley, and stop at scenic viewpoints as we travel through the stunning Canyonlands National Park. Be dazzled by fabulous Las Vegas and wowed by the epic Hollywood sets of Los Angeles.

Unforgettable experiences

Marvel at the Grand Canyon by heritage rail
Marvel at the Grand Canyon by heritage rail
Hauled by historic locomotives, we journey to one of the world’s most spectacular natural wonders joined by musicians and entertainers who regale us with folkloric tales of the Old West. On arrival we have three hours to enjoy breathtaking views of the Grand Canyon.
Sail by glistening skyscrapers on the Chicago Architecture Cruise
Sail by glistening skyscrapers on the 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.
Admire the stunning landscapes of Monument Valley
Admire the stunning landscapes of Monument Valley
Travel through the majestic scenery of Monument Valley in the Navajo Nation, gazing at the fascinating red sandstone structures dotted across a painted desert setting.
See the famous New York skyline by boat
See the famous New York skyline by boat
View the iconic Manhattan cityscape from the water, on a boat cruise from New York Harbour past the magnificent Statue of Liberty and the emotive Ellis Island.
Experience Utah’s ancient red rock formations
Experience Utah’s ancient red rock formations
Drive through the dramatic desert landscapes of Utah’s Canyonlands and Arches National Parks, entering an extraordinary landscape of geological wonders.
Las Vegas and Los Angeles
Las Vegas and Los Angeles
Be dazzled by a stay in fabulous Las Vegas and wowed by the epic Hollywood sets and glittering Los Angeles, visiting the iconic Walk of Fame, enshrined with Hollywood's most celebrated names.

What’s included

Itinerary

Day 1 - London to New York City

Our amazing American adventure starts with a daytime transatlantic flight to New York's JFK airport. On arrival, we cross the East River to Manhattan as we transfer by coach to our hotel on Times Square. New York is full of instantly recognisable locations and this dazzling plaza is one of the world's most famous. 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.

Your evening is your own to either unwind in your hotel 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 extensive array of famous theatres lines the side streets. In such a global city, your dining options are unlimited.

Day 2 - A guided tour of New York City, from the water and on land

We're introduced to the 'Big Apple' on a sightseeing tour, starting with a cruise around the iconic Manhattan Harbour. We experience New York City from a new perspective as rising towers gather to create the familiar skyline. We pass Ellis Island, the point of entry for more than 12 million immigrants searching for the American Dream. Nearby is the breathtaking Statue of Liberty, a 151ft copper statue which has become a national symbol.

Returning to land, there's free time over lunch before we embark on a coach and walking tour of Manhattan's renowned sights, including Central Park. This 843-acre park is a space of refuge in a bustling metropolis and it is common to see New Yorkers exercising here. There is also a memorial to John Lennon called Strawberry Fields. We also visit the Upper East Side, an affluent area lined with grand apartment buildings, upmarket fashion houses and some of the world's finest museums, such as the Guggenheim. Midtown Manhattan is where you'll find New York's impressive Museum of Modern Art. Our tour ends in the late afternoon when you are free to explore. You dine independently tonight and the wonders of Manhattan's varied restaurants await.

Day 3 - By rail to America’s capital, Washington DC

This morning we set off on our first adventure on the US rail network as we travel from New York's Penn Station to the capital, Washington DC. We ride in comfort through New Jersey to Philadelphia and onwards to Baltimore, arriving in Washington less than three hours later.

On arrival, we set off on a guided sightseeing tour of DC's spectacular memorials and political buildings. As the home to the US Capitol, the Lincoln Memorial and the Washington Monument, the National Mall and the nearby White House radiate an eye-watering display of power. While the National Mall is awash with monuments to figures from American history, the charming Georgetown district reflects an era before Washington was the nation's capital. The colourful colonial-style buildings along Main Street and the peaceful banks of the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal transport you to the late-18th century.

Our hotel is near Union Station, just a short walk from Senate Park and Constitution Hill, with plenty of places to explore and enjoy dinner.

Day 4 - A day at leisure in Washington DC

Today you are free to discover Washington DC at your own pace. After yesterday's tour, you could return to the National Mall to explore the memorials or visit some of the free museums and art galleries. The vast Smithsonian museums chronicle American life through fascinating artifacts and displays, while the Air and Space Museum documents the history of aviation and space exploration.

To immerse yourself further in American history and politics, you could venture over the Potomac River to the Arlington National Cemetery, where you can find the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and the gravesite of former president John F Kennedy. This evening you are free to enjoy the diverse cuisine on offer in the capital. For an authentic taste of Washington DC, you could try a half-smoked hot dog from a street vendor or head down to the marina for Chesapeake Bay blue crabs.

Day 5 - Overnight to the Windy City, Chicago

After a free morning to either unwind in your hotel or enjoy some final sightseeing in Washington, we board our first overnight train. Travelling in coach seat class, with dinner served either in the dining car or at our seats, the Amtrak service takes us through the verdant Maryland countryside along the route of the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad, which opened in 1803. We cross the Potomac into West Virginia at Harpers Ferry, passing through the Appalachian Mountains before we emerge in Pennsylvania.

During the night we enter Ohio and pass along the shore of Lake Erie before entering our final states, Indiana and Michigan.

Day 6 - Introduction to captivating Chicago

We have breakfast on board, getting closer to Lake Michigan and our destination, Chicago's Union Station On arrival in the cultural city of Chicago, we set off on a guided tour. We view the downtown area with its grand towers, and the historic residential neighbourhoods of Gold Coast and Lincoln Park. The latter was the location of the 1929 St Valentine's Day Massacre during the Prohibition era.

Our tour continues as we pass Wrigley Field, one of the most iconic sports stadia in the US and home of the Chicago Cubs baseball team. In Millenium Park we view Anish Kapoor's gleaming Cloud Gate sculpture, a curved stainless-steel structure inspired by liquid mercury that reflects the sky. The tour concludes on the 'Magnificent Mile', Chicago's premier shopping street lined with fashion stores, shining malls and huge skyscrapers. It is near here that we find our hotel, which has a 40th -floor rooftop pool offering fantastic views across the metropolis.

There is a free afternoon and evening after we check in to our hotel to explore further and find somewhere for dinner this evening. Chicago is renowned as the home of the deep-dish pizza and there are many Italian American restaurants as well as cuisines from across the world.

Day 7 - Cruising Chicago’s glistening skyline

After a buffet breakfast at our hotel, we join one of North America's most popular boat tours. We board the Chicago Architecture Tour and sail under the bridges of the Chicago River, viewing 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 from 1973 until 1998. Seeing this high-rise city from the river 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 including tales of the people who helped shape Chicago's skyline. With a free afternoon and evening, there are many options at your disposal. You might like to visit the Willis Tower's Skydeck to view Chicago from above. From this amazing vantage point you can see the soaring towers and the waterfront along the shore of Lake Michigan. Alternatively, 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 8 - Through the Midwest onboard the California Zephyr

After a final free morning in Chicago we head to Union Station to embark on one of the highlights of our tour - a long but symbolic train journey on Amtrak's California Zephyr. The route takes us through the Midwest and over the Rockies to Colorado on an overnight journey, arriving in Grand Junction the following afternoon. The open plains of the Midwest are incredibly evocative as we follow in the footsteps of pioneers and the first railroad engineers heading westwards. The statuesque water towers, the ringing of bells at crossings in sleepy rural towns, and long dusty tracks through cornfields may induce nostalgia as they have all been seen and heard countless times in films.

Enjoying dinner in either the dining car or at our seats, the sense of adventure rises as these familiar scenes pass our windows. Overnight, we pass through towns called Arapahoe and Yuma, providing a clue as to tomorrow's dramatic changes of scenery.

Day 9 - Crossing the Rockies to Grand Junction

The train is scheduled to leave Denver in the early morning and we can enjoy breakfast as we climb up through the Rocky Mountains, greeted by vistas of pine forests and rolling peaks. We cross the continental divide while we're in the six-mile-long Moffat Tunnel which reaches an elevation of more than 9,200 feet. Emerging in skiing country, we pass through Winter Peak, a year-round resort that opened in 1940. From here on, we are in the traditional Old West and follow the route of the Colorado River for most of the way to Grand Junction.

The atmospheric scenery increases in drama as rugged, elemental cliffs rise beside the river and we start to recall classic Wild West films while we enjoy lunch on the train. Arriving in Grand Junction, we are met by another change of scenery - verdant vineyards.

Our hotel is on Main Street and surrounded by clean adobe-style buildings. The architecture and atmosphere of this western Colorado town seems a world away from the bustling streets of Chicago we left a day before. There is free time this evening to explore charming Grand Junction's downtown area, which has a distinctively 'small town America' vibe and is dotted with restaurants serving locally-reared meat and delicious wines from Colorado's wine country.

Day 10 - From Grand Junction, Colorado to Moab, Utah

We leave the greenery of Colorado behind us as we drive into the fantastic landscapes of Utah, enroute to the historic town of Moab where we spend the next two nights. Arriving late morning, there is free time to get to know this characterful town, find an interesting café on Main Street to sample classic Southwestern cuisine, and maybe explore the craft shops and quirky art galleries.

This afternoon we explore the breathtaking Canyonlands National Park by coach, where every bend of the road reveals jaw-dropping scenery. This atmospheric desert landscape is made up of countless canyons and buttes, carved by the mighty Colorado River and its tributaries. We stop at scenic viewing spots along our way, to admire the incredible ancient rock formations, rivers and ox-bow lakes.

Tonight you might like to visit the Moab Brewery, which - besides award-winning beer - also offers meals, or try one of the region's excellent wines with a choice of unusual dishes at a local bistro, the oldest of which is situated in the town's late 19th century dance hall.

Day 11 - Guided tour of Arches National Park, free afternoon

Today we enjoy a full morning touring the extraordinary Arches National Park by coach, a dramatic landscape of arched red sandstone rocks, eroded over millennia. This vast park has over two thousand stone arches, soaring red-rock pinnacles and honeycomb formations, caused by rain and wind erosion, and our local guide describes the history of the national park.

Other features we encounter include giant balanced rocks and massive rock 'fins'. We drive and walk among the fascinating landscape, seeing monoliths including Delicate Arch, a huge and emblematic archway that is the unofficial symbol of Utah. Despite the size of these incredible rocks, the landscape continues to erode and change and as recently as 2008, one of the park's great arches fell.

This afternoon and evening is free to relax at our hotel or explore the town of Moab further. The Museum of Moab is a great source of information about the local geology, archaeology and pioneer history which includes uranium and copper mining.

Day 12 - The spectacular Monument Valley to Page

Today we take a fascinating journey through the natural and native history of the USA as we visit Monument Valley in the Navajo Nation reservation. Considered sacred by the Navajo people, this incredible natural spectacle is famed for its towering, red sandstone buttes scattered across the arid landscape. Our first stop is the Twin Rocks in Bluff, Utah, before we move on to nearby Goosenecks Canyon, a tightly winding meander in the San Juan River that reveals 300 million years of geological activity.

Driving down the long, straight desert road, what appears to be a city hones into view - its red spires piercing the sky. This is the jaw-dropping Monument Valley. Witnessing its majesty in person cannot be understated, even though it has backdropped hundreds of Hollywood movies. With otherworldly buttes spreading across the 'painted' desert landscape, this is like nowhere else on Earth.

We continue to the small city of Page, surrounded by canyons, where we stay at the Lake Powell Resort. This evening we enjoy dinner together with our group of fellow travellers.

Day 13 - The Glen Canyon National Park and Dam to Flagstaff, Arizona

This morning we travel from our Lake Powell Resort to the Carl Hayden Visitor Centre in the scenic Glen Canyon National Park recreation area. Here we have an outstanding view of the Glen Canyon Dam. Named after a prominent politician who influenced water development in the arid west, at over 700 feet tall, the dam is America's second largest man-made reservoir. We can learn about the development of water storage in the Colorado River Basin. Lake Powell stores water from the Colorado's Upper Basin and at its fullest has a staggering surface area of 266 square miles. After our visit to Glen Canyon we continue to the nearby town of Page where there's free time to grab some lunch.

We continue our journey to the charming Arizona city of Flagstaff, with a short stop in Cameron - a small town on the Navajo Nation - enroute. After checking into our hotel for an overnight stay in Flagstaff, there's time to look around before choosing a place to dine independently this evening. This vibrant college town differs from a lot of other parts of Arizona due to its mountainous altitude and being surrounded by pine forests.

Day 14 - Grand Canyon by heritage railway

This morning, a coach transfers us 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 are joined by musicians and entertainers who tell us folkloric stories about the Old West.

On arrival, we have a few hours to bask in the awe-inspiring beauty of the Grand Canyon from the South Rim. Created over an estimated six million years by the power of the Colorado River, the canyon is 277 miles long, up to 18 miles wide, and a mile deep. The colours and magnitude of this seemingly endless spectacle are truly breathtaking and there are numerous fantastic vantage points. You could take a stroll along a short section of the South Rim Trail or enjoy the views from the nearby Mary Colter's Lookout Studio which also has a gift shop. Near there is the Kolb Studio, built by two pioneering brothers between 1904 and 1926 after they realised the profitability of taking professional photographs of visitors.

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 brick building that showcases Hopi arts and crafts. We return to Flagstaff by coach in late afternoon with a free evening to head out for some food or unwind in our hotel.

Day 15 - Welcome to fabulous Las Vegas

Today we set out to Las Vegas, continuing on the celebrated Route 66. The subject of numerous songs, the route has become synonymous with the search for the American Dream and, in his novel The Grapes of Wrath, John Steinbeck depicted it as a symbol of hope and new beginnings.

We stop to learn more about this famous road, enroute to the shining desert city of Las Vegas. The first hotel was opened on the Las Vegas Strip in 1941, but it was the Flamingo - opened by New York gangster Bugsy Siegel in 1946 - that gave people their first taste of larger-than-life casinos. Nowadays, the Strip is a bold, brassy but enjoyable entertainment resort with immense casino hotels.

Our hotel is based on the Strip. Several top chefs have restaurants in Las Vegas and you are free to explore at your own pace. You could wander up to see the Bellagio fountain or board the monorail to other hotels including the Venetian with its gondolas. Alternatively, you may like to try a small flutter in a casino.

Day 16 - From Sin City to the City of Angels

Leaving Las Vegas this morning, we cross the Mojave Desert by coach and enter the last of our 17 states - California, the Golden State. After passing the vast Mojave National Preserve and making a quick stop for lunch, we reunite with the old Route 66 on the edge of the desert outside Barstow and make our way to Los Angeles.

Arriving into evocative and expansive Los Angeles this afternoon, driving along streets familiar from countless films, we check in to our hotel to spend the next two nights in this dazzling city. Our hotel is in Burbank, nestled in a valley where many of the world's biggest film studios can be found. Known as the 'media capital of the world', once settled in at the hotel, there are many restaurants serving global cuisine that you could try for tonight's dinner.

Day 17 - Tour of Los Angeles and Hollywood

A city that hardly needs an introduction, Los Angeles is the home of America's world-renowned film industry and today we get to know it on a guided sightseeing tour of some its most famous locations, including Hollywood Boulevard. Here, golden stars are set into the pavement to honour Hollywood's most celebrated names, on the iconic Walk of Fame outside the Dolby Theatre, where the Oscars have been held since 2001.

We also visit Sunset Strip, a legendary section of Sunset Boulevard renowned for its nightlife, exclusive boutiques and landmarks linked to the film industry, including the historic nightclub, Whiskey A Go Go and Chateau Marmont, an address where many big stars have stayed. Nearby are the Hollywood Hills, where there are many mansions owned by the rich and famous and - of course - the Hollywood sign that looks out over Tinseltown.

Tonight is the last night of your holiday and there are several restaurants nearby or within an easy distance from our hotel to choose from for your final dinner.

Day 18 - Free morning in Los Angeles, Homeward Bound

After a free morning in Los Angeles, we are transferred to the airport after lunch for our overnight flight back to London Heathrow.

Day 19 - London

We touch down in London Heathrow on the morning of Day 19, with a head, heart and no doubt a camera full of memories of our epic American holiday.

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.

Hotels

Hampton Inn Chicago Magnificent Mile, Chicago

Hampton Inn Chicago Magnificent Mile, Chicago

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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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New York Marriott Marquis

New York Marriott Marquis, New York

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Phoenix Park Hotel, Washington DC

Phoenix Park Hotel, Washington DC

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Trains

Amtrak Trains
Durango & Silverton Railroad
Grand Canyon Railway

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Reviews

4.5 stars4.5 / 5 · 68 reviews

  1. 5 stars
    (45)
  2. 4 stars
    (16)
  3. 3 stars
    (5)
  4. 2 stars
    (1)
  5. 1 star
    (1)

Ruth

5 stars

Submitted 8/Jun

Very interesting holiday and we'll organised

from Great Rail Journeys
Hi Ruth, Thank you for taking the time to leave a review. That is fantastic to hear! Sophie.
1 comment

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Philip Warren

5 stars

Submitted 8/Jun

A wonderful experience. Well worth doing. Don’t think abouit it just get it booked you will not regret it.

from Great Rail Journeys
Hi Philip, Thank you for taking the time to leave a review. That is wonderful to hear! Sophie.
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Andrew Sales

3 stars

Submitted 8/Jun

An expensive "No Frills" holiday, but a great way to see the USA if not visited before. Hardly any food provided other than basic complimentary breakfasts in a couple of hotels plus food on overnight trains, one only very basic microwaved! AMTRAK sleeping accommodation very cramped with just about enough room to put your trowsers on! Trains and coaches otherwise great. Some hotels very dated with loud A/C and a couple distant from main town/city. Enjoyable but not worth the money.

from Great Rail Journeys
Hi Andrew, Thank you for taking the time to leave a review. I am glad to hear that you had an enjoyable trip. I will make sure to pass your feedback across to our Product team so we can review the facilities, hotels and meals closely for the future. Sophie.
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Customer

5 stars

Submitted 8/Jun

It truly was the trip of a lifetime! The whole trip was superbly organised, there is no way we could have booked everything individually ourselves - the time and cost would be prohibitive. Our tour leader (Tim) was a joy and kept everything on track for us. We were concerned after reading previous reviews that food (particularly vegetarian) would be a challenge to find as we were out and about. Tim made sure that we were able to stock up with picnics at the supermarket when lunches might not be available. It was definitely tiring, as expected, but we saw so many iconic sights it was well worth it. Brilliant!

from Great Rail Journeys
Dear Mr Liddell, Thank you for taking the time to leave a review. That is wonderful to hear! I will make sure to pass your lovely feedback across to Tim directly! Sophie.
1 comment

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Matt Stephens

5 stars

Submitted 26/May

WOW! What an absolutely fabulous adventure, from start to finish. So many iconic places and sights, a truly wonderful experience for all your senses and emotions. Our tour manager took control of everything, leaving us just to enjoy our whole holiday, trouble free. The hotels were right in the centre and heart of all the action and the guided tours were extremely fascinating and were a very useful addition. This was a once in a lifetime trip for us and we cannot fault it. It might seem a bit expensive, but it was worth every penny or cent for the things we did, the things we saw and the memories we now have. We cannot recommend this enough. You need to do this.

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Philip Kershaw

5 stars

Submitted 03 Nov 2023

absolutly wonderful and epic experience once in a lifetime holiday

from Great Rail Journeys
Dear Mr Kershaw, Thank you for your review. That is wonderful to hear! Kind regards, Sophie.
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