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

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  • Overnight at the Renaissance Mayflower, with welcome cocktail reception and private dinner on the first night
  • 9 nights on board the American Orient Express
  • 10 dinners with complimentary wine, 9 lunches, 10 full American breakfasts and optional continental breakfasts
  • Non-alcoholic beverages
  • Professionally guided tours of Washington, D.C., Charleston, Savannah, New Orleans, San Antonio, Santa Fe and Grand Canyon National Park
  • Comprehensive lecture series
  • Live piano music nightly
  • Personal service by rail car attendant
  • Farewell cocktail reception


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 Studio.

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.

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