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Grand Tour of America

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Uncover the USA’s most iconic sights by rail

18 days From £4,695 £4,495 per person
Operated by our sister company Great Rail Journeys
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2023 Tour code: SUG23

About the tour

Discover the vibrant, varied United States on a once in a lifetime journey that takes you to some of America's most famous sights including Alcatraz, the Las Vegas strip, the Grand Canyon, Niagara Falls and Yosemite National Park.

Highlights

What’s included

Itinerary

Day 1 - London and San Francisco

We fly from London Heathrow to the vibrant city of San Francisco, where we spend two nights. With its harbourside charms and laid-back culture, bohemian San Francisco is one of America's most-loved cities.

Day 2 - San Francisco

We're introduced to the city during a sightseeing tour. We see the incredible Golden Gate Bridge, which was the longest suspension bridge in the world when it was built in the 1930s and is an iconic shade of orange. Continuing, we explore Fisherman's Wharf before cruising to the famous island of Alcatraz. Once an 'escape-proof' maximum security prison housing notorious criminals such as Al Capone, today Alcatraz is a fascinating museum. The rest of the day is free. You could indulge in some seafood at one of the harbourside crab stalls, or step back in time with a visit to a historic saloon or speakeasy.

Day 3 - Yosemite National Park

We board an Amtrak train today for a journey inland, to Merced. From here, we take a coach to nearby Yosemite National Park, one of the most stunning areas of natural beauty in the United States, known for its deep valleys, tumbling waterfalls and ancient, towering trees. We enjoy a tour of the valley floor, taking in views of Half Dome, a well-known rock formation with a unique shape. We also see the 3,000-foot El Capitan, a huge rock face popular with rock climbers, and the spectacular Bridalveil Falls. We return to Merced, where we spend the night.

Day 4 - To Las Vegas

We board our Amtrak rail service to Bakersfield, continuing across the desert by coach on our way to Las Vegas. On arrival in the vibrant city, we check into the famous Park MGM hotel on the bustling Las Vegas Strip, where we spend the next two nights. Las Vegas is bursting with life and colour, and its easy to lose yourself in the hypnotic neon lights. With free time, you could visit one of the city's iconic casinos, or catch a dazzling Cirque du Soleil show.

Day 5 - Las Vegas

You're free to spend the day exploring incredible Las Vegas at your own pace, and there's plenty to occupy yourself with in the city. The Las Vegas monorail is a great way to discover the fantastic sights and spectacles of the city and runs adjacent to the lively Las Vegas Strip. The city boasts also a great variety of resorts, with top-class shows, excellent restaurants, and an extraordinary selection of entertainment to choose from.

Day 6 - The Hoover Dam and Flagstaff

Leaving the lights of Las Vegas behind, we make our way across Nevada to Arizona. We stop off on the way at the Hoover Dam, located in Black Canyon just outside of Vegas. An engineering masterpiece that was designed to stop the mighty Colorado River from flooding, today it's one of the region's most famous sights. Back on the road, we enter Arizona, travelling along the legendary Route 66 until we reach Flagstaff. We spend the next two nights here.

Day 7 - The Grand Canyon

We travel in vintage carriages hauled by historic locomotives on the Grand Canyon Railway today. Opened in 1901, the Grand Canyon Railway journeys through the spectacular landscapes to the Canyon's South Rim. Arriving, we're treated to views of one of the world's most awe-inspiring sights, the Grand Canyon. The canyon, created by the Colorado River over a period of 6 million years, is up to 18 miles wide, 1 mile deep, and is one of the most visited sites in the US. We arrive at the South Rim and main viewpoint of the canyon to take in the dramatic vistas.

Day 8 - Monument Valley

We drive through Navajo country and Utah's Monument Valley - familiar as the rugged setting of many American Western movies. The whole region presents the imagery of a bygone era, where cowboys still spend lonely months herding cattle across miles of untouched hills and Native Americans perform age-old rituals. We enjoy excellent views of the vast and wild scenery as we make our way to the town of Durango, where we spend the night. A former mountain town surrounded by mighty mountains, Durango is one of Colorado's most fascinating destinations, bursting with rich history.

Day 9 - Durango and Silverton Railroad

We board the Durango and Silverton Railroad for a journey to the mining town of Silverton. Incredibly, the line has been in continuous use since its inception more than 130 years ago. As the imposing black coal-fired locomotive pulls its distinctive yellow carriages through the remote, tree-lined mountain backdrop of Colorado, past azure flowing rivers and towering evergreens, the untouched landscape feels almost forgotten by the rest of the world. Our trip harks back to the late 19th century when the train was first used to transport silver and gold ore mined from the nearby San Juan Mountains. We continue by coach to Grand Junction, nestled in Colorado's fruit growing area, where we spend the night.

*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 - California Zephyr

Leaving Grand Junction, we board Amtrak's California Zephyr for a journey on what's known as one of the USA's most scenic rail journeys. The full route of the California Zephyr runs between Emeryville and Chicago, and the portion we travel on takes us up into the Rocky Mountains, through the heart of Colorado's wine region towards Chicago. We settle down for a night on the rails.

Day 11 - Chicago

We arrive in Chicago's Union Station this afternoon, and you're free for the rest of the day to start exploring the city. Set on the shores of vast Lake Michigan, the 'Windy City' is home to a wealth of fantastic things to see and do. A must-try for visitors is Chicago-style deep dish pizza. By no means your traditional Italian-style pizza, this delicious pie-like dish is made with layered cheese and chunky tomato sauce encased in a high crust and is served in many iconic eateries across the city.

Day 12 - Chicago

You're free to continue exploring the city. Chicago boasts a magnificent skyline along with many highly rated museums, restaurants and cafés. The 110-storey Willis Tower was the world's tallest building on its completion in 1974, and has a great observation deck for views over, on a clear day, four states - Illinois, Michigan, Wisconsin and Indiana. Millennium Park, with its iconic 'Bean' sculpture and tranquil green spaces, is also worth a visit.

Day 13 - Chicago

We gain further insight into the city of Chicago today on a fascinating guided sightseeing tour, seeing many of its incredible sights. After a day of explorations, we board the Amtrak Lake Shore Limited for our overnight rail journey. Staying in cosy berths that consist of two comfortable seats by day and upper and lower berths by night, we enjoy a comfortable journey to Buffalo on the cusp of Niagara Falls.

Day 14 - Niagara Falls

The Lake Shore Limited pulls into Buffalo today. Disembarking, we transfer to our hotel, located close to the spectacular Niagara Falls. The rest of the day is free, so head to the nearby natural wonder for once-in-a-lifetime views of the waters. The waterfall is loved by travellers all over the world for its emerald colour and a descent so forceful that the spray casts a mist around it. You could take a boat tour of the falls (payable locally) that takes you into the heart of the heavy mist for stunning views, or admire the thundering waters from the towering Observation Deck.

Day 15 - New York

We take the train to cosmopolitan New York, an adrenaline-charged metropolis bursting with some of the world's greatest art, culture, cuisine and history. On arrival, we take a unique 'behind the scenes' tour of iconic Grand Central Terminal. This is one of the USA's most famous stations. It boasts elegant marble floors and an incredible vaulted ceiling painted with a stunning celestial mural, with thousands of golden stars and constellations set against a turquoise backdrop. We continue to our hotel, where we spend two nights.

Day 16 - New York, New York

We wake up in 'the city that never sleeps' today, setting out on a guided tour that includes some of New York's most spectacular sights. We take a harbour cruise around Manhattan, which takes us past the world-famous Statue of Liberty. We continue with a visit to leafy Central Park, a green oasis of calm set against a backdrop of towering skyscrapers, and glamorous Fifth Avenue, the city's most famous shopping street. Later, you have some free time to explore this exciting city; perhaps visit poignant 'Ground Zero' or catch a show on Broadway.

Day 17 - To London

Bidding a fond farewell to New York and the US, we transfer to the airport for our flight to London Heathrow.

Day 18 - London

We arrive back in London and your holiday comes to an end.

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.

Hotels

Little America Hotel, Flagstaff

Little America Hotel, Flagstaff

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Hampton Inn, Grand Junction

Hampton Inn, Grand Junction

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MGM Park Hotel, Las Vegas

MGM Park Hotel, Las Vegas

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El Capitan Hotel, Merced

El Capitan Hotel, Merced

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Zephyr Hotel, San Francisco

Zephyr Hotel, San Francisco

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Trains

Amtrak
California Zephyr
Durango & Silverton Railroad
Grand Canyon Railroad
Lake Shore Limited

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Grand Tour of America

Uncover the USA’s most iconic sights by rail

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Lynne Broadley
Lynne
Simon Laverack
Simon
Ashleigh Howe
Ashleigh