Day 1: Depart Chicago
Golden West Rail Ramble tour members will meet our Tour Director in the Metropolitan Lounge of Chicago’s Union Station. We’ll board the famous California Zephyr in time for its 2:00 p.m. departure. The Zephyr features double-decker Superliner equipment. Relax in your comfortable Roomette sleeping accommodations. Bedrooms are available at an additional cost. After settling in you may want to go to the glass-walled Sightseer Lounge. Enjoy a sumptuous, full-course dinner in the dining car. All meals are included on the Zephyr.
Day 2: Colorado Rockies
The Zephyr will depart Denver this morning and begin its climb over the Front Range of the awesome Colorado Rockies. Throughout the day the train will wind around sharp mountain curves and through numerous tunnels. You’ll look down at fast-flowing streams winding through valleys far below. The breathtaking mountain vistas will continue until late afternoon.
Meal(s): B, L & D
Day 3: En Route / San Francisco
During the night you crossed the dry, sparsely populated Nevada countryside. Today’s scenery will be almost as spectacular as that experienced yesterday as the Zephyr ascends the Sierra Nevada mountains through the famous Donner Pass. From rugged terrain and pine trees to lush greenery and palm trees . . . in just three hours.
Our arrival in Emeryville is scheduled for 4:10 p.m. Then it is on to the famous “City by the Bay”. Our home for three nights in San Francisco is the attractive Holiday Inn Fisherman’s Wharf.
With its picturesque sights and pungent smells, Fisherman’s Wharf attracts millions of visitors annually. You’ll have time to discover the excellent restaurants, markets, import houses and souvenir shops.
Meal(s): B & L
Day 4: San Francisco
This morning we’ll embark on a three-and-a-half hour sightseeing tour of San Francisco, including Chinatown, Golden Gate Park, Jackson Square, the Mission District, Telegraph Hill, the Presidio and Fisherman’s Wharf. Our tour will end at the world-renowned Fisherman’s Wharf.
Following the tour you’re free to ride a cable car or just wander through the great shops and galleries.
Day 5: Napa Valley Wine Train
This morning we’ll board a comfortable motorcoach and travel eastward across the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge and head north into the famous California wine country. Our destination is Napa where, for a few hours, we’ll return to the gracious era of elegant rail travel and distinguished service. The rail cars that make up the Wine Train have been meticulously restored to their original splendor.
The Lounge and Wine Tasting cars are resplendent in polished mahogany, brass and etched glass. You’ll savor hors d’oeuvres chosen to enhance the Wine Train’s own selection of the finest Napa Valley wines.
Later you’ll be ushered into the 1917 Pullman Dining Car. While the train rolls slowly past many of the valley’s 50+ vineyards and wineries, you’ll enjoy a three-course gourmet lunch. At mid afternoon our travelers will return to San Francisco for a final night. L
Day 6: Monterey
Our travelers will check out of the hotel this morning and travel by motorcoach south about 80 miles to Felton. At 11:00 a.m. we’ll board the historic Roaring Camp & Big Trees Narrow Gauge Railroad train for a spectacularly scenic, six-mile ride through a magnificent stand of tall California redwood trees. We’ll enjoy a picnic lunch (included).
We’ll continue to picturesque Monterey. This charming resort community is one of the most scenic locations on the Pacific Coast.
Late this afternoon, we’ll visit historic Cannery Row, which was once a raucous industrial street famous for canning sardines and for the haunts of characters in John Steinbeck’s 1945 novel, “Cannery Row.” There are many shopping opportunities and restaurants . . . all within walking distance. You will have time for an “on-your-own” dinner before transferring to our hotel, the Portola Plaza Hotel and Spa.
Day 7: Cambria
We’ll strike out this morning on a sightseeing tour of the Monterey area. The high point of our visit will be the scenic, 17-mile drive from Pacific Grove to Carmel. Points of interest along the way include Seal Rock and Cypress Point. You’ll also see Pebble Beach and other golf courses made famous as the site of the annual Bing Crosby golf tournament.
Following an “on-your-own” lunch stop, we’ll travel south along the Pacific Ocean shoreline to Cambria. Our home this evening is The Fog Catcher Inn. The Tour Director will host dinner tonight.
Day 8: Hearst Castle
Following breakfast (included) we’ll transfer to one of California’s major attractions and a high point of our tour, the famous Hearst Castle. You’ll see the Castle greenhouses and 123 acres of the estate of the late publishing czar William Randolph Hearst. The main residence is a huge Hispano-Moorish building called La Casa Grande, where millions of dollars worth of the Hearst art collection and antiques are displayed. The landscaped gardens are decorated with pools, fountains and statuary. We’ll take an hour-and-a-half walking tour of this magnificent complex.
We’ll reboard our motorcoach and continue south another 150 miles to Santa Barbara. Upon arrival in Santa Barbara we’ll embark on an hour-and-a-half sightseeing tour that includes the famed Courthouse with its massive murals.
At 4:12 p.m., we’ll board an Amtrak Pacific Surfliner train for the final 103 miles to Los Angeles. On the train you’ll see more of the beautiful Pacific coastline before we enter the sprawling San Fernando Valley.
Our arrival into beautiful Los Angeles Union Station is scheduled for 7:10 p.m. Upon arrival, we’ll transfer to the Los Angeles suburb of San Pedro.
We will check into the Crowne Plaza Los Angeles Harbor hotel for the next two nights. Dinner will be at the hotel tonight.
Meal(s): B & D
Day 9: Catalina Island
Breakfast is included each morning in San Pedro. It takes a little more than an hour to cover the 22 miles from Long Beach to Avalon on Catalina Island in a modern express boat. A two-hour sightseeing tour ten miles into the scenic interior of the island is included. You’ll see spectacular vistas, deep canyons, quiet coves and the blue ocean. Be on the lookout for wildlife. You’ll also have time to explore the primary city of Avalon. Glass-bottom boat tours are available. We’ll return to the mainland late this afternoon.
Day 10: Los Angeles
Late this morning we’ll strike out on an extensive tour of Los Angeles. The famous sites we’ll visit include Sunset Boulevard, Chinatown, Griffith Park, Exposition Park and Grauman’s Chinese Theatre where the hand and footprints of many stars are imprinted in concrete. Enjoy an “on-your-own” lunch at the world-famous Farmers’ Market.
After the tour, we’ll continue on to Los Angeles Union Station where we’ll board Amtrak’s Southwest Chief for Chicago. You’ll again enjoy private-room sleeping accommodations, all the train meals and other amenities experienced on your westbound train. Count on a full-course dining car dinner after departure.
Meal(s): B & D
Day 11: En Route
You’ll want to take advantage of the fascinating scenery of Arizona and New Mexico our train will pass through during the day. The Sightseer Lounge is the best vantage point.
Meal(s): B, L & D
Day 12: En Route to Chicago
The Southwest Chief will roll across northern Missouri, a corner of Iowa and all of Illinois before our late afternoon arrival in Chicago. Some tour members will change to trains bound for Midwest, Eastern and Southern home cities. Some will spend the night in Chicago and fly home tomorrow morning.
Meal(s): B & L