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USA Coast to Coast

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The ultimate USA adventure, from New York to San Francisco

Operated by our sister company Great Rail Journeys

2024 Tour code: USG24

About the tour

Experience a once-in-a-lifetime journey as we travel from sea to shining sea across the USA. From the dazzling lights of Times Square to the serenity of sunset in front of the Golden Gate Bridge, we enjoy the delights of this spectacular country.

Enjoy guided tours of famous cities, including New York, Washington DC, Chicago, Los Angeles and San Francisco, with fantastic cruises around Manhattan, the Chicago River and San Francisco Bay.

Travel by overnight rail from Washington to Chicago and onwards to Grand Junction in Colorado and view the picturesque California coast by train as we journey between Los Angeles and San Francisco.

Discover the pioneer spirit on the charming Durango and Silverton Railroad, soak up the spellbinding beauty of incredible natural wonders including the Grand Canyon and Monument Valley, and be dazzled by fabulous Las Vegas.


What’s included


Day 1 - Our great American adventure begins

Our incredible holiday starts with a transatlantic flight to New York's JFK airport. On arrival, we cross the East River to Manhattan as we transfer to our hotel on Times Square. New York is full of instantly recognisable locations and this dazzling plaza in central Manhattan is one of the world's most famous. With its revolving dining room offering spectacular views of the famous Manhattan skyline, and ground level getting you straight to 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, there is no shortage of food options, with cuisines from all across the world on offer.

Day 2 - Guided tour of New York City

We're introduced to the 'Big Apple' on an introductory sightseeing tour today, starting with a cruise around the iconic Manhattan Harbour. As we sail down the East River, we get to experience New York City from a new perspective as rising towers gather to create the familiar skyline, the older skyscrapers now dwarfed by the more modern steel-and-glass structures. We also pass Ellis Island, the point of entry to the 'Land of Liberty' between 1892 and 1954 for more than 12 million immigrants searching for the American Dream. Nearby is the breathtaking Statue of Liberty, also known as 'Liberty Enlightening the World'. This 151ft copper statue with her torch held aloft has become a national symbol. Gifted by the people of France, the neoclassical sculpture of the Roman Goddess of Liberty carries a tablet marking the date of the Declaration of Independence and shows a broken chain and shackle at her feet to mark the abolition of slavery.

Returning to land, there is free time over lunch before we embark on a coach and walking tour of Manhattan's renowned sights, including Central Park. A huge rectangle of green between the towering skyscrapers, this 843-acre park is a space of refuge in a bustling metropolis. With wooded areas and numerous bodies of water, it is very common to see New Yorkers exercising along the beautiful parks of Central Park. There is also a five-acre memorial called Strawberry Fields in honour of John Lennon near to the Dakota Building where the Beatle lived for a number of years. We also visit the Upper East Side, the traditionally affluent area lined with grand apartment buildings, upmarket fashion houses and some of the world's finest museums, such as the Guggenheim and Museum of Modern Art.

Our tour ends in the late afternoon so there is plenty of time to explore further or revisit a place of particular interest. You dine independently tonight and, with great transport links from Times Square, the wonders of Manhattan's varied restaurants await.

Day 3 - From New York City to Washington DC by rail

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 in the capital, 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 well-known names 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 take you back in time 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 rest and enjoy dinner independently.

Day 4 - Day at leisure in DC

Today is free to discover Washington DC at your own pace. After yesterday's introductory tour, you might like to return to the National Mall to explore the memorials or visit some of the many 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. Alternatively, you might prefer to spend more time in one of the places we visited during yesterday's tour.

This evening is free to dine independently and 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

There is a free morning to either unwind in your hotel or enjoy some final sightseeing in Washington before we board our first overnight train. With a roomette and dinner served either in the dining car or our rooms, 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. The suburbs of Chicago glide past our windows as we have breakfast on board, getting closer to Lake Michigan and our destination, Chicago's Union Station.

Day 6 - Introduction to captivating Chicago

To familiarise ourselves with Chicago we set off on a guided tour on arrival in the 'Windy City'. We view the downtown area of the Loop with its grand towers, and the historic residential neighbourhoods of Gold Coast and Lincoln Park. As well as being an affluent area, the latter was also the location of the 1929 St Valentine's Day Massacre during the Prohibition era, when rival gangs headed by 'Bugs' Moran and Al Capone were competing for control.

Our tour of this cultural city 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. Due to its form, it has affectionately been dubbed the 'bean'. 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 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 breakfast at our hotel, we set sail on 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 as the tallest building in the world from its construction in 1973 until 1998. Seeing this high-rise city from the tranquility of the river offers an interesting perspective on this fascinating city as we glide through a canyon of glass and steel on a fully narrated tour during which we hear 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 in captivating Chicago. After seeing Chicago from the water up, those with a head for heights might like to visit the Willis Tower's Skydeck or the Signature Room of the John Hancock Center to view Chicago from above. From these amazing vantage points - a glass cube on the 103rd floor in the case of the Skydeck - you'll be able to see the soaring towers and the waterfront along the shore of Lake Michigan.

Alternatively, if you prefer to keep your feet firmly on the ground, you could take the train up to Wrigley Field for a tour of the baseball stadium, enjoy a riverside walk to the lakefront piers, or even indulge in a spot of shopping on the Magnificent Mile or the upmarket East Oak Street.

Day 8 - Through the Midwest onboard the California Zephyr

There is a free morning to enjoy more of the Windy City before we head to Union Station for 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 that arrives at its destination the following afternoon.

Although a largely featureless, flat landscape, the 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 have all been seen and heard countless times in films.

Enjoying dinner in either the dining car or our roomettes, the sense of adventure rises as these familiar scenes dash past 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 - Through the Wild West by rail from Silverton to Durango

We delve deep into the evocative Wild West today as we transfer by coach through wonderful scenery to Silverton, enroute passing through the Old West town of Ouray, framed by spectacular mountains. From Ouray, we enter the 'Million Dollar Highway', regarded as one of the most beautiful roads in the USA. Winding through beautiful mountains for 25 miles to Silverton, this area is known as American Switzerland, due to its similarity to the stunning European country.

Arriving in Silverton amid the imposing peaks of the San Juan Mountains, we are near the source of the mighty Rio Grande. Formerly a booming silver and gold-mining town, this remote Colorado settlement is now renowned as a terminus on the Durango and Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad.

This wonderful 45-mile heritage railway is a National Historic Landmark and feels like stepping back in time as a diesel locomotive hauls us through the breathtaking Animas Canyon, crossing over iron bridges above the emerald-green Animas River, and across the remote wilderness of the National Forest. Riding this route, it's hard not to imagine oneself in an old Hollywood film, perhaps because the railroad and surrounding areas were used as locations in the 1969 classic Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid.

We arrive in delightful Durango in the evening and, after checking in to our hotel, there is free time to explore the picturesque streets of Durango. You might like to sample a fresh Colorado craft beer in one of the many brewpubs, indulge in a steak dinner or opt for Mexican cuisine.

Day 11 - Breathtaking beauty of Monument Valley

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.

Leaving the spellbinding beauty of Monument Valley and the Navajo lands, we uncover another iconic symbol of the American west as we approach our destination for the night - Route 66 in the charming Arizona city of Flagstaff. A vibrant college town, Flagstaff also differs from a lot of other parts of Arizona due to its mountainous altitude and being surrounded by pine forests. This evening you are free to dine independently.

Day 12 - Grand Canyon by heritage railway

This morning, a coach transfers us along the legendary Route 66 to nearby 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 13 - Welcome to fabulous Las Vegas

Today we set out on the 'Mother Road' on the way to Las Vegas. Route 66 was established in 1926 and stretched 2,448 miles from Chicago to Santa Monica, California. The subject of a famous song performed by artists as varied as Nat King Cole and the Rolling Stones, it has become synonymous with the search for the American Dream. A central feature of John Steinbeck's iconic novel The Grapes of Wrath, in which it was dubbed the 'Mother Road', it was a symbol of hope and new beginnings as often displaced people headed west in search of better lives.

As we travel west, we stop enroute to learn more about this evocative road. We encounter our new beginnings in the shining desert city of Las Vegas. Little more than a remote outpost at the turn of the 20th century, it wasn't until the 1940s that Vegas turned into the gambling capital we know today. The initial hotel-resort was opened on the 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 Las Vegas Strip is a bold, brassy but enjoyable entertainment resort with immense casino hotels lining the glittering Strip. It's a city synonymous with indulgence, glitz and glamour with casinos, lively shows and flashing neon lights, having earned the nickname Sin City.

Our hotel is perfectly located at the historic heart of the Strip. A number of top chefs have restaurants in Las Vegas and you are free this evening to explore at your own leisure. You could wander up the Strip and see the Bellagio fountain or board the monorail to other hotels including the Venetian with its gondolas and recreation of the Bridge of Sighs. Alternatively, you could chance your arm with Lady Luck and try a small but responsible flutter in a casino.

Day 14 - From Sin City to the City of Angels

Leaving Las Vegas, we cross the Mojave Desert by coach and enter the last of our 17 states - California, the Golden State. Reuniting with the old Route 66 on the edge of the desert outside Barstow, we make our way to Los Angeles.

Another of the USA's most famous cities, LA is home of the country's film industry and, consequently, many of the world's most famous and wealthy people. A glittering and varied city with a metro population larger than Belgium's, we are introduced to glamorous Los Angeles on a sightseeing tour of some of the city's most well-known locations, including Hollywood Boulevard. Here, golden stars set into the pavement honour Hollywood's most famous 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 Whiskey A Go Go and Chateau Marmont. The latter has become synonymous with Hollywood as many of its most well known stars have stayed there. 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.

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', there are many restaurants serving global cuisine that you could try for tonight's dinner.

Day 15 - Coast Starlight to San Francisco

This morning we are transferred by coach to Van Nuys where we board the Coast Starlight train for a fantastic, scenic journey along the Pacific Coast. First, we travel through the narrow Simi Valley and the city of Oxnard before reaching the ocean at Ventura. Heading north, the tracks hug the coastline and follows Route 101, better known as the Pacific Coast Highway.

From our spacious, reclining seats we enjoy spectacular views of the ocean and long stretches of golden, sandy beaches. After Santa Barbara we cross the trestle bridge at Jalama Beach and pass by the Vandenberg Air Force Base. From the famous Pismo Beach, we head inland to San Luis Obispo and begin to ascend 1,000 feet in 11 miles as we traverse the Cuesta Pass into ranch country. In the Salinas Valley, we pass 18th-century mission towns including Soledad, which was used as a setting in John Steinbeck's Of Mice and Men.

The final leg of our journey takes us through Castroville, the 'artichoke capital of the world', and San Jose, California's original capital, before we get to view San Francisco Bay on the entrance into Oakland in the evening. A coach transfer takes us across the Bay Bridge to our hotel opposite Fisherman's Wharf, where we check in for a two-night stay.

Day 16 - San Francisco and a sunset cruise

San Francisco flourished from a small and geographically inhospitable settlement to a booming Gold Rush town in 1849 as treasure seekers known as 49ers rushed to California in search of wealth. We get to know this fascinating and cultural city this morning on a guided tour of its main sights, including its famous hilly streets and colourful buildings, the vibrant Asian districts of Chinatown and Japantown, as well as the centre of 1960s counterculture, Haight Street. We also visit Lombard Street with its great views of Alcatraz in San Francisco Bay and the section of hairpins that twist and turn down the steep street.

Our tour concludes near our hotel and the lively Pier 39. Famed not just for the sunbathing sealions that gather on the docks but also for its fantastic food, this is a great place to get a taste of San Francisco. As a food city noted for its seafood and bread - particularly sourdough - there are many delicious dishes available in Pier 39's restaurants, including chowders, grilled seafood and roasted crab. You could however opt to eat in Chinatown, take a streetcar ride through the city or sail across to Alcatraz - although pre-booking before you leave for your holiday is advised. Alternatively, you could decide to take the ferry over to pretty Sausalito set in a little harbour on the bay. Here, quaint houses cascade down the hillside into the upmarket downtown.

This evening we embark on a highlight of our holiday as we board a sunset cruise. Sailing slowly past Alcatraz, Angel Island and the Marin Headlands, our boat turns towards the Golden Gate Bridge as the sun gently dips into the Pacific Ocean, casting its ochre glow against the outline of this spectacular bridge. On the way back to San Francisco's waterfront, the city's skyline sparkles into life as day turns into night.

Day 17 - San Francisco and homeward bound

There is free time in the morning to unwind or do some last-minute exploring before we head to the airport for our flight home.

As we fly across the USA and Atlantic Ocean, we can look back on our great American adventure and the remarkable highlights we have enjoyed. From the bustle of New York's Times Square, the skyscrapers of Chicago and the glamour of Hollywood, to the untameable beauty of Monument Valley and the Grand Canyon, as well as the timeless scenes viewed from our train windows, we have witnessed the very best of this incredible and varied country.

Day 18 - Home

Landing back in the UK today, we can recall the fantastic times spent with our fellow travellers and Tour Manager, with whom we have shared these unforgettable experiences as we have journeyed from sea to shining sea.

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 dates and prices by clicking on the 'Prices & Availability' button. We will write to you around 10 weeks before your departure date with the precise meeting times for your tour 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.


Hilton Garden Inn Burbank Downtown, Burbank

Hilton Garden Inn Burbank Downtown, Burbank

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Hampton Inn Chicago Magnificent Mile, Chicago

Hampton Inn Chicago Magnificent Mile, Chicago

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Holiday Inn & Suites Durango Central, Durango

Holiday Inn & Suites Durango Central, 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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New York Marriott Marquis, New York

New York Marriott Marquis, New York

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Zephyr Hotel, San Francisco

Zephyr Hotel, San Francisco

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Phoenix Park Hotel, Washington DC

Phoenix Park Hotel, Washington DC

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California Zephyr
Coast Starlight
Durango & Silverton Railroad
Grand Canyon Railroad

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