A vibrant labyrinth of culture and colour, New York is the ideal location to begin the epic adventure of coast-to-coast rail tours. When you’re done shopping along Fifth Avenue and taking a cosmopolitan stroll through Central Park, view the cityscape from the towering heights of the Empire State Building (where Tom Hanks or King Kong may be waiting, depending on your luck). Look out upon the USA’s inspiring symbol of freedom, the Statue of Liberty, and contemplate the journey of discovery to come.
If architectural splendour is your thing then you’ll find plenty of it in the nation’s capital, Washington DC, a living monument to historic and contemporary America. Home to the Senate and the House of Representatives, discover where all the biggest decisions are made and soak up the power with a tour of the Whitehouse. The national monuments are truly spectacular, best viewed at night when illuminated in this beautifully crafted city.
There are equally important decisions being made in the next rail-tour destination, Chicago. Hawaiian or Four seasons? Meatballs or Mozzarella? Find your own version of the best Chicago pizza after working up a hunger in the delightful grounds of Millennium Park (Anish Kapoor’s famous bean-shaped sculpture might inspire your appetite) or shopping on the Magnificent Mile.
With a history of gold seekers, outlaws, buffalos and beer brewing the Wild West is very much alive in the next destination, Denver. The final resting place of Buffalo Bill, you can find out more about this colourful character (Express rider, army scout, buffalo hunter and showman), in the dedicated museum atop Lookout Mountain. Enjoy views of the snow capped Rockies in one direction, the Great Plains in the other. For another angle of history, check out the art Museum’s unparalleled collection of Western and Native American art and artefacts.
Hollywood is the next stop, where dreams and drama are in plentiful abundance. Once you’ve taken ample pictures of Hollywood’s iconic sign, saunter down the Walk of Fame, where stars on the sidewalk commemorate those who have made a name for themselves in radio, television and movies. Grauman’s Chinese Theatre sits beside the famous footprints in the forecourt, a charming viewing experience from the golden age.
If you’ve ever wanted to be directly confronted by the awesome power and depth of nature then the Grand Canyon, next stop on the rail tour, is the place to do it (although Thelma and Louise style is not advised). An ancient Native American holy site, a geological wonder; the Grand Canyon is an astounding 277 miles of fiery rock and sublime depth exposing almost two billion years of the planet’s history.
Look back on your journey from the suspended beauty of the Golden Gate Bridge, a perfect end to the tour. A modern day miracle of man’s ingenuity and architectural achievement, the bridge spans two miles across the waters of San Francisco bay. Joseph B. Strauss’ lifetime masterpiece is among America’s most cherished landmarks.