California Adventure + California Zephyr to Chicago

Holiday Highlights

  • Scenic journeys on Amtrak’s California Zephyr, Coast Starlight and Pacific Surfliner
  • Historic rail journey along the Sacramento River
  • Spend a day at Universal Studios Hollywood
  • Stay on the Delta King Riverboat
  • Tour the famous Hearst Castle Grand Rooms
  • Explore San Luis Obispo wine region and coast by car
  • Time to explore San Diego, Los Angeles, San Luis Obispo, Sacramento and Chicago

We put together this Tailored Rail tour for a couple who wanted to see as much of California and Western USA as possible during an 18-day trip. They understood that travelling by train would give them an excellent view of the Pacific Coastline and the changing landscapes through the western US states to Chicago. We organised all travel and accommodation and arranged excursions specific to their requests.. If you are interested in a similar holiday please contact us direct at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or click the Request a Quote button.


Day 1 – Flight to San Diego

A direct flight to San Diego followed by a private transfer to the Best Western Plus Hacienda Hotel Old Town for a 4-night stay on a bed and breakfast basis.

Days 2 to 4 – At Leisure in San Diego

A chance to explore the beautiful Pacific coastline. We can devise some excursions on your behalf if you have something specific you would like to see or do such as an Old Town Trolley tour or whale watching tour.

Day 5 – To Los Angeles

Board the Pacific Surfliner train for a four hour journey to Los Angeles. You will have a 2-night stay at the Andaz West Hollywood in a room that provides a view of the Hollywood Hills. Spend the rest of the day at leisure.

Day 6 – Universal Studios

Spend a day experiencing Hollywood’s famous film industry. We will supply you with a Universal Studios Hollywood ticket to allow you behind-the-scenes access to see where movies are made and where Hollywood’s biggest stars work daily. Get an exclusive peek at the sets of such blockbusters as The War of the Worlds and Universal Pictures’ King Kong. The Studios also include “The Wizarding World of Harry Potter “and there are thrilling rides, shows and attractions that cast you inside movie action.

Day 7 – To San Luis Obispo

Today you board Amtrak’s Coast Starlight train for a five hour scenic journey to San Luis Obispo. We have arranged for you to pick up a small hire car such as a Chevrolet Sonic so you can explore the area by road. You will have a 4-night stay at the Apple Farm Country Hotel in a King room. This is an ideal base from which to explore the wine region.

Days 8 to 10 – Hearst Castle

At leisure in San Luis Obispo which includes a Grand Rooms tour of Hearst Castle on day 8. The castle is a national historic landmark and the former home of newspaper magnate William Randolph Hearst. On the other days you can take a wine tour, visit nearby Pismo Beach or enjoy country walks.

Day 11 – To Sacramento

After returning your hire car, board the Coast Starlight once again to Sacramento for a 3-night B&B stay on the Delta King Riverboat hotel in one of its 3rd Deck Queen Staterooms. The Delta King Hotel in Old Sacramento is a beautiful riverboat hotel with modern lodging amenities, two outstanding restaurants offering casual and fine dining, entertainment and a theatre. Sacramento’s ‘old town’ and unique 28-acre National Historic Landmark District and State Historic Park is worth exploring.

Day 12 – Sacramento at Leisure

Sacramento’s Midtown Farmer’s Market is held each Saturday and it is worth taking a 20 minute bus ride from the ‘old town’ to see it. Or visit the California State Railroad Museum ($12 entry fee) and enjoy a ride on the excursion train from the museum which runs every hour at weekends from 11am, at a further charge of $12 per person. The scenic, 45-minute ride takes you along the Sacramento River on the Sacramento Southern Railroad. Sacramento’s ‘old town’ is a fascinating place, alive with shopping, dining, entertainment, historical attractions and world-renowned museums set within the time of the California Gold Rush and the Transcontinental Railroad.

Day 13 – Sacramento RiverTrain

Take a ride on the Sacramento RiverTrain in first class, a round trip from West Sacramento to Woodland. The RiverTrain Excursion showcases Gold Rush history. You will get a chance to interact with characters dressed in period costumes and learn the history of the railroad and Sacramento's Gold Rush days. The train ride stops at Riverside Park when travellers can do their own gem mining!

Days 14 & 15 – California Zephyr

Morning departure from Sacramento for a 2-night full-board journey on board the California Zephyr to Chicago. Experienced travellers say the California Zephyr is one of the most beautiful train trips in all of North America. The California Zephyr runs daily between San Francisco and Chicago, travelling to Reno, Salt Lake City across the Rockies to Denver and courses through the plains of Nebraska. As you climb through the heart of the Rockies and through the snow-capped Sierra Nevadas, you may find it hard to disagree.

Day 16 – Arrive Chicago

We spend the morning on board the train to complete the California Zephyr journey and arrive in Chicago mid-afternoon and have an overnight stay at the Central Loop Hotel. Enjoy the rest of the day at leisure.

Day 17 – Explore Chicago

Spend a day at leisure in Chicago, taking a tour, visiting some of the city’s landmarks or enjoy some last minute shopping before a private transfer to the airport for a flight home.

Day 18 – Arrive Home

Arrive London Heathrow early morning.

Selected Hotels

Best Western Plus Hacienda Hotel Old Town, San Diego

Andaz West Hollywood, Los Angeles

Apple Farm Country Hotel, San Luis Obispo

Delta King Riverboat Hotel, Sacramento

Central Loop Hotel, Chicago

Please note - hotels can be subject to change

Price Includes

  • Flights in Premium Economy Class with British Airways
  • Accommodation in double/twin room in good quality hotels
  • Pre-booked private transfers as listed
  • 4 days hire of a small sized car
  • Universal Studios Hollywood One Day Ticket with Early Park Admission
  • Hearst Castle Grand Rooms Tour
  • Coach reserved on daytime Amtrak trains
  • Superliner Bedroom on California Zephyr train. (The Superliner Bedroom is ideal for two passengers. Each room has a large sofa with two individually reclining sections, and an easy chair. At night, the sofa converts to a comfortable bed and an upper berth folds down from above. All Superliner Bedrooms feature private, self-enclosed restrooms with toilet, sink and shower. All meals on board are included.)
  • Sacramento RiverTrain Excursion in First Class
  • Senior discounts where available

Price per person

Quotes available upon request

Booking form

Download your tour booking form here.


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Why Choose Ffestiniog Travel?

  • UK's first rail tour operator to run an overseas escorted rail holiday in 1974
  • Created for people who love rail holidays and exploring the world’s heritage railways
  • Dedicated rail holiday specialist - great destinations, sightseeing and unparalled railway content
  • Train ticket supplier for worldwide rail operators - we can plan and arrange your rail journey to anywhere
  • Knowledge of the world’s rail routes makes us leading specialists in escorted and Tailor Made rail holidays
  • Over 60% of our existing rail tour travellers return to holiday with us year after year
  • Committed to supporting rail travel and heritage railways around the world
  • Our profits support the continued preservation of the famous Ffestiniog and Welsh Highland Railways
  • Small, dedicated rail holiday travel team offering an award winning personal service

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