Great Transcontinental Rail Journey
Experience the spectacular tradition of rail travel on this coast-to-coast expedition through prairie, desert, mountain, forest and some of America's most fascinating cities . . .
Washington, D.C. · Charleston · Savannah · New Orleans · San Antonio · Santa Fe · Los Angeles · Grand Canyon
Contact Us For Trip Dates
Day 1 - Arrive in Washington, D.C.
We meet at the Renaissance Mayflower Hotel, located near the Smithsonian museums in downtown D.C., for our private champagne reception and welcome dinner. This evening, we overnight at the hotel.
Day 2 - Washington, D.C. / Board the American Orient Express
The nation's capital sets the stage for our transcontinental rail excursion. We tour historic vibrant Washington with a guide, stopping at points of interest along the Mall and exploring the Lincoln and FDR Memorials before we board the train. This afternoon, we head south, through the rolling hills of Virginia and into North Carolina's piney low country. This evening, dinner is served in the dining cars as we overnight en route to Charleston.
Day 3 - Charleston, South Carolina
We're in the South. Thanks to exceptional preservation efforts, Charleston greets us this morning, with grand restored homes and immaculate cobblestone streets. We tour the historic district by horse-drawn carriage, and our guide shares the area's history as we move along the Battery, overlooking Charleston Harbor. After lunch, we visit Magnolia Plantation and its extensive gardens. This early home to the Drayton family maintains an outstanding collection of antiques, a wildlife sanctuary and a history that dates back 13 generations to the pre-colonial period.
Day 4 - Savannah, Georgia
The port city of Savannah epitomizes antebellum grandeur,
from its planned public squares and ornate architectural details, to the
sprawling live oaks draped with Spanish moss. We tour the historic district
by foot and by trolley, past restored Georgian row houses and literary landmarks,
to the 1816 Owens Thomas House, an English Regency structure, filled with
art and collectibles. After a dose of southern hospitality and a progressive
lunch served in private historic mansions, we enjoy free-time exploring
River Street and City Market. Or choose to visit Fort Pulaski, for a tour
focusing on the fort's role in the Civil War.
Day 5 - Rail to New Orleans, Louisiana
Enjoy a leisurely morning on board, riding the rails
through the rural back-country of the south as we make our way across Georgia,
Alabama and Mississippi. Sit back, relax and partake in a lecture and afternoon
tea, prepared by our onboard pastry chef. Today offers perfect opportunities
to explore the train, experience the changing landscape with optimal viewing
in the dome car, and generally get a sense of the luxury that defined rail
travel in the streamliner era. This evening, we enjoy dinner and overnight
en route to New Orleans.
Day 6 - New Orleans, Louisiana
New Orleans is a city consumed with cool jazz, steamy night life, and Cajun and Creole cooking. The architecture here is awe-inspiring, and life is tempered by the unique mix of cultures and traditions. This morning we tour the Garden District, the St. Louis Cemetery and the Mardi Gras Museum, with its extraordinary costume and float exhibits. After lunch in the French Quarter, choose a guided walking tour of this eclectic section of town or explore and shop on your own.
Day 7 - San Antonio Texas
Wake up to Texas! After lunch on board we tour historic
San Antonio, with visits to the missions of San Jose and the Alamo. The
beautiful Mission San Jose, founded in 1720, was built along the San Antonio
River about five miles downstream from the Alamo. The Alamo earned its fame
almost two centuries ago for the tragic role it played during the Texas
War for Independence. We board a barge and enjoy a leisurely tour along
the famous San Antonio Riverwalk. Return to the train for dinner and overnight
en route to Santa Fe.
Day 8 - Rail to Santa Fe, New Mexico
Riding the rails through stretches of western Texas, we enjoy the amenities of the train today and the ever-changing landscapes just outside our windows, including Sevilleta National Wildlife Refuge. Today is a great day to sit back, participate in the lecture series, and just enjoy yourself. We discover the history of the Rio Grande while following its river bed north - the route the Spanish took between old Mexico and Santa Fe in the 1600s. This afternoon our onboard pastry chef presents afternoon tea in the lounge car, with pastries baked that day on the train. We pass ranch lands and follow the Rio Grande as we make our way northwest.
Day 9 - Santa Fe, New Mexico
With New Mexico's stunning landscape as our backdrop, we experience the Spanish Colonial charm of Santa Fe, with a walking tour of the Old Plaza, the heart of the original 1609 Spanish settlement. This afternoon, we lunch at a local restaurant, with free time to browse museums, shops and galleries. Back on the train, we head over the Continental Divide into the sunset, silhouetting unusual rock formations in the desert, as we enjoy dinner and overnight.
Day 10 - Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona
The unparalleled majesty of the Grand Canyon and the
Colorado River greets us this morning. With its unfathomable dimensions
- 277 miles long, 18 miles wide, and a mile deep - this geologic wonder
is perhaps the nation's most spectacular. We spend the day at the South
Rim, where the constant play of light and shadow profoundly changes the
colors of the plateaus and mesas within the chasm. From a stop at Yavapai
Point, we are given the option to hike to El Tovar, a landmark hotel built
in 1905, or continue on to the Mather Point Visitor Center for more spectacular
views of the canyon. We lunch at El Tovar, then have time to stroll along
the South Rim from the Hopi House to historic Bright Angel Lodge and Kolb
Day 11 - Los Angeles, California
Our American Orient Express adventure ends in late-morning
in Los Angeles, where we are free to sightsee or transfer to the airport
for individual flights home.