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INDEPENDENT RAIL TOUR WEST COAST SPLENDORS

14 Days/13 Nights – Gateway: Vancouver, BC

1: Vancouver, BC

Welcome to Vancouver, a city of incredible diversity, surrounded by water on three sides and nestled alongside the Coast Mountain Range it is home to spectacular natural scenery and a bustling metropolitan core,

2 nights Vancouver

2: Vancouver, BC

Enjoy a fully commentated half day trolley tour of this beautiful city. Sightsee at your own pace as you hop on and hop off for any length of time at 23 of Vancouver’s best attractions, parks, gardens, galleries and restaurants. Included are Gastown, English Bay, Stanley Park, Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Garden as well as ascent to the top of Harbour Centre Tower for incredible views of the city.

3: To Seattle, WA on the Cascades Train (144 mi/231 km)

This morning depart Vancouver on Amtrak’s Cascades train and arrive in the attractive and vibrant city of Seattle by lunch time.

2 nights Seattle

4: Seattle

With some of the World’s most stunning wilderness and waterways surrounding Seattle it is amazing how much wildness survives within the city limits! This morning’s tour is fun, educational and informative as it leads you around the city following the “Emerald Necklace” of city parks, woodlands, neighborhoods, locks, college campuses and shorelines. You will have the opportunity to spot for Pacific Northwest birds and wildlife, including expert interpretation of local and natural history, culture, geology, urban ecosystems. Take in the historical Pioneer Square area of old Seattle, learn of the Great Seattle Fire, the Klondike Gold Rush and hear the history of the Space Needle, Smith Tower, Pike Place Market, catch a glimpse of the Olympic Sculpture Park, a nine-acre open and vibrant green space for art! Enjoy morning tea while taking in the iconic views of the city at Kerry Park. Next drive along Magnolia bluff spying stunning homes and the majestic Pacific Madrones on the way to the 534-acre Discovery Park, the largest park in Seattle! The site is one of breathtaking majesty overlooking Puget Sound and offering spectacular views of both the Cascade and the Olympic Mountain ranges. Enjoy an optional nature walk at the park to view some of the local flora, fauna, wildlife, and birds. While in Fremont we make a sweet stop at the only organic, fair trade, bean-to-bar chocolate factory in the USA and sample confections that delight your palate, ignite your imagination and inspire you to think and act sustainably!

5: To Portland on the Coast Starlight Train. (187 mi/300 km)

Widely regarded as one of the most spectacular of all train routes, the Coast Starlight links the greatest cities on the West Coast. The scenery along the Coast Starlight is unsurpassed. The dramatic snow-covered peaks of the Cascade range and Mount Shasta, lush forests, fertile valleys and long stretches of Pacific Ocean shoreline provide a stunning backdrop for your journey. The train follows Commencement Bay on the southeast arm of Puget Sound with the Olympic Mountains rising in the distance. Travel to Portland, the beautiful “Rose City”, a city of contrasts surrounded by natural beauty, from Washington Park and the West Hills to the Willamette River and Waterfront Park.

2 nights Portland

6: Portland, OR

Portland is Oregon’s most populous city, and the third most populous city in the Pacific Northwest. Whether in the Cultural District downtown or a transfigured warehouse in the trendy Pearl District, it is easy to see why Money magazine has called Portland the “Best Big City” in North America. Portland is known for its large number of microbreweries and micro-distilleries, as well as its enthusiasm for coffee. Rich in Northwest arts and heritage, the city and region are also noted for strong land-use planning, excellent public transportation and a progressive regional government. Our morning city tours will start by enjoying tea and other refreshments while taking in the iconic views of Portland and surrounding volcanic peaks at the historic Pittock Mansion. The Pittock Mansion was home to two influential Portland pioneers Henry and Georgiana Pittock from 1914 to 1919 and is now a city park and treasured landmark. Next we explore the neighborhoods! Portland is divided into four main quadrants: Northeast, Northwest, Southeast and Southwest. Each quadrant has its own distinct feel and unique attractions including art galleries, boutiques, cafes, restaurants and performance spaces. Included in your guide’s narration will be the fascinating history of a few of Portland’s ten famous bridges. Some of the other neighborhoods we will be visiting include the Pearl Disctrict, Nob Hill and Hawthorne. Portland is proud of its parks and its legacy of preserving open spaces. Parks and green space planning date back to John Charles Olmsted, and today more than 8,100 acres of ecologically valuable natural areas have been purchased and permanently protected from development. We will visit at least two of the following parks: Washington Park, Mt Tabor Park, McCall Waterfront Park and when the season is right, the International Rose Test Garden. Your guide will bring the parks alive by interpreting history, flora and fauna. Our tour ends at one of Portland’s greatest treasures: Powell’s Books – the largest independent, new and used bookstore in the world!

7: Overnight on Coast Starlight Train to San Francisco. (726 mi/1162 km)

Reboard the Coast Starlight and travel south via Oregon City, end of the famous Oregon Trail. Take note of the snow-capped peaks of the Three Sisters Mountains before traveling through Eugene and the climb into the spectacular mountain scenery of the Cascades. Comfortable reclining seats with pillows are provided as the train travels through the night to Oakland and San Francisco (Sleeping car accommodation with included meals can be provided subject to supplementary cost and availability)

1 Night on train

8: San Francisco, CA

Welcome this morning to wonderful San Francisco, a popular international tourist destination, renowned for its steep rolling hills, eclectic mix of Victorian and modern architecture and famous landmarks. Visit Fisherman’s Wharf and enjoy local fare. Take a trip to Alcatraz Island; see the world-famous sea lions at Pier 39, and the Aquarium. Perhaps take a cruise on San Francisco Bay with magnificent views of Golden Gate Bridge. Spend time in Golden Gate Park and ride the famous cable cars.

3 nights San Francisco

9: Muir Woods & Sausalito.

You are collected at your hotel this morning for a half-day bus tour to John Muir Woods National Park, just 17 miles northwest of San Francisco across the Golden Gate Bridge. You’ll marvel at the size of the giant redwoods at John Muir Woods. And you will enjoy the bay views, shopping, art galleries and fabulous mansions in Sausalito, home to some of the country’s wealthiest citizens. This afternoon is at leisure for personal sightseeing and shopping.

10: Monterey & Carmel

Enjoy a sightseeing tour to Monterey and Carmel from San Francisco. This is a fully narrated 11-hour bus tour that departs from your hotel and returns to San Francisco. This tour shows California’s rugged Central Coast, a view that will both humble and inspire you. Starting the Monterey portion of the tour, you will travel south via Highway 1 through Santa Cruz offering a spectacular view of the Central Coastal area. The tour includes scheduled stops at Steinbeck’s Cannery Row in Monterey – known for the characters in John Steinbeck’s novel “Cannery Row.” Find seaside exploration, shopping and activities for everyone on Monterey’s beautiful shoreline. There are vista points along 17 Mile Drive including stores, art galleries and the restaurant district of Carmel that are perfect for lunch and shopping! You will visit the one-square mile city of Carmel, located on the Bay of Carmel above the white-sand beach which offers a picturesque and beautiful memory for the last portion of your tour. The trip back to San Francisco will take you through the Silicon Valley in the San Jose and Santa Clara counties

11: To Paso Robles on the Coast Starlight train (206 mi/330 km)

An exciting day as we re-join Amtrak’s “Coast Starlight” at Oakland Rail Station. From Oakland to Los Angeles, the tracks follow the same route as the old Spanish mission road, “El Camino Real.” From 1769 to 1823, Franciscan Friar Junipero Serra founded a chain of 21 missions and four mission chapels along this road from San Diego to Sonoma. Each was built to be one day’s horseback journey from the next. Serra himself has become known as the “Apostle of California.” We travel through, San Jose, known as the capital of Silicon Valley for its location within the booming technology industry. Then through the Santa Clara Valley, with the Santa Cruz mountain range on the right, and Mt. Hamilton (4,430 ft.) on the left as we leave San Jose. Leaving the Salinas Valley, we pass by the Diablo Range. San Benito Mountain (5,258 ft.) on the left is the highest point on the range. To the right is the Santa Lucia Range. We follow the Salinas River for the next 100 miles and as we pass through this quaint town of San Miguel, we see Mission San Miguel Archangel, founded in 1771, and one of Father Serra’s original missions along El Camino Real. We leave the train at Paso Robles “The Pass of the Oaks” halfway between San Francisco and Los Angeles, one of the fastest-growing premium vineyard and winery regions in California,  Enjoy a sit down wine tasting followed by an afternoon Wine Tour before spending the night in Paso Robles.

1 night Paso Robles

12: Hearst Castle & Los Angeles (270 mi/432 km)

This morning we leave on a tour to the Hearst Castle where you will be guided to the National Geographic Theater to view “Hearst Castle – Building the Dream” in large screen format before starting the Grand Rooms Tour. Every evening, W. R. Hearst’s guests gathered in the grand social rooms on the ground floor of Casa Grande (his formal name for the twin-towered building, or main house). Follow their footsteps and experience what it was like to be a guest at The Enchanted Hill—known today as Hearst Castle. At the end of the guided portion of your tour, stroll on your own through the gardens and wander at your leisure around the Neptune Pool and the Roman Pool. The tour concludes with an included deli lunch and a drive to San Luis Obispo where we re-join the Coast Starlight train for our southbound journey to Los Angeles where we arrive late this evening.

Two nights Los Angeles

13: Los Angeles, CA

Get ready to be a part of Entertainment Capital of the world. There are few cities that offer as much entertainment, excitement and diversity as do the attractions in Los Angeles. A 5 hour tour includes many of Los Angeles most appealing sights, with visits to Hollywood Blvd, Mann Chinese Theater, Kodak Theatre, World Famous Farmers’ Market and The Grove, Sunset Strip, Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills, Santa Monica Pier and 3rd Street Promenade. The tour includes 5 stops at various points of interest, including the Hollywood Walk of Fame and is fully guided with sightseeing commentary – a fun and exciting way to get an overview of the city so that you can decide later where you’d like to focus your time.

14: Los Angeles/Home

Your tour ends today as you take your flight home

Tour includes:

  • Vancouver – airport arrival transfer to hotel
  • All Amtrak Rail transportation, hotel accommodation and taxes. Note: Overnight comfortable reclining seats with pillows provided between Portland & San Francisco (Sleeping car accommodation with included meals can be provided subject to supplementary cost and availability)
  • Vancouver –  trolley tour of the city
  • Seattle –  tour of the city
  • Portland – tour of the city.
  • San Francisco – city tour, half day tour to Muir Woods & Sausalito, full day tour to Monterey & Carmel.
  • Paso Robles – wine tasting and vineyard tour
  • Tour of Hearst Castle
  • Los Angeles – tour of the city
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