Top 10 Scenic Railroads in California, United States

July 22, 2021 Esmeralda Fenner

California is a fertile, peaceful place where you’ll find a near-equal balance of vineyards and deserts, beaches and mountains, hippies and traditionalists. Catch an epic wave in Big Sur or swirl a glass in Napa Valley. Be dazzled by the Joshua Tree night sky or just star-gaze in Hollywood. Swish down the slopes of a Tahoe ski resort, or cruise across the Golden Gate Bridge with the top down and the music blasting. Above all, don’t forget to soak up some Golden State sunshine.

1. LA in a Day Tour

Hollywood Pantages Theatre, 6233 Hollywood Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90028, USA The Real Los Angeles Tours
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5.0 based on 5 reviews

L.A. is so big – how are you going to see the city in one day? Easy! Join our LA in a Day tour and see 3 completely different neighborhoods of the city - Hollywood, downtown and Santa Monica. There’s no breezing through on buses with a pre-recorded audio commentary playing (which is always out of sync), on this tour we show you the hidden nooks and crannies of the city that other tour companies don’t (including 7 different venues that have held the Academy Awards Ceremony) and give you a feel for the real Los Angeles. We're pioneers of the all day metro and walking tour of Los Angeles. Why did we create it? Because we want you to feel like you're an Angeleno for the day and to fall in love with the city like we did. * Tour starts 10 am daily * Travel on Los Angeles Metro included in ticket price * There’s a big range of food options and all types of diet can be accommodated (vegan, gluten-free etc)

Inclusions: Travel on Los Angeles Metro is included in ticket price., Tour Guide

Exclusions: Gratuities not included. Please allow 15-20%., Lunch/Snacks are not included.

Reviewed By millie4t

I really enjoyed my tour with Damien. I've lived in Los Angeles for a long time but did not know a lot of the history of the city and Damien explained the background of how LA became LA. Stunning views of Los Angeles, from downtown to Santa Monica. Free parking at the Greek Theatre parking lot (when there aren't any events). Bring water (they do give you a bottle), hat, sunscreen. I was lucky and the day was overcast but it can get really hot there. Uphill walk for about 20 minutes so if you're not in shape, this is not the tour for you. Then the rest is pretty easy. Due to COVID, the Griffith Observatory is closed right now so you can't go inside. Good tour for locals (especially if you're not familiar with Griffith Park) and tourists.

2. Central Downtown LA Tour

222 N Hill St, Los Angeles, CA 90012, USA The Real Los Angeles Tours
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5.0 based on 4 reviews

Los Angeles is always changing and you’ll witness it on our Central Downtown LA tour. Thought LA doesn’t have a downtown? It does and it’s the most dynamic, interesting part of the city. Many tourists don't know of DTLA (as it’s known here), but Angelenos do and they’re voting with their feet, as every week new restaurants, bars, Apple stores and apartment blocks open here. Many people don’t realize it’s also the best-preserved historic downtown of any major city in America (with great architecture). Join our Central Downtown LA tour and learn about the neighborhood where the city was born. We also stop for lunch at Grand Central Market (one of the best places in the U.S. for food according to Bon Appetit). * Tour starts 1pm daily * Children under 12 y.o. gain free entry * There’s a big range of food options and all types of diet can be accommodated (vegan, gluten-free etc)

Inclusions: Tour Guide

Exclusions: Gratuities not included. Please allow 15-20%., Lunch/Snacks are not included.

Reviewed By millie4t

I really enjoyed my tour with Damien. I've lived in Los Angeles for a long time but did not know a lot of the history of the city and Damien explained the background of how LA became LA. Stunning views of Los Angeles, from downtown to Santa Monica. Free parking at the Greek Theatre parking lot (when there aren't any events). Bring water (they do give you a bottle), hat, sunscreen. I was lucky and the day was overcast but it can get really hot there. Uphill walk for about 20 minutes so if you're not in shape, this is not the tour for you. Then the rest is pretty easy. Due to COVID, the Griffith Observatory is closed right now so you can't go inside. Good tour for locals (especially if you're not familiar with Griffith Park) and tourists.

3. Reel to Real: Hollywood & Downtown LA Tour

Hollywood Pantages Theatre, 6233 Hollywood Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90028, USA The Real Los Angeles Tours
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5.0 based on 3 reviews

Want to experience more of the real Los Angeles? On this tour you'll start the day in Hollywood and learn all about how and why the movie business first moved to this small town in the Wild West. There's a lot of history hidden in plain site in this most famous of neighborhoods and you'll learn about it all, as well as see the many iconic buildings that dot the storied Boulevard. Next you'll take the subway (ticket included) to downtown. This is where the city began in 1781 and it's the largest historic downtown of any major city in America. It has a lot of beautiful architecture, but it's definitely not a museum - it's the most dynamic and interesting part of the city (with the best restaurants and bars too). * Tour starts 10am daily * Travel on Los Angeles Metro included in ticket price * There’s a big range of food options and all types of diet can be accommodated (vegan, gluten-free etc)

Inclusions: Travel on Los Angeles Metro is included in ticket price., Tour Guide.

Exclusions: Gratuities not included. Please allow 15-20%., Lunch/Snacks are not included.

Reviewed By millie4t

I really enjoyed my tour with Damien. I've lived in Los Angeles for a long time but did not know a lot of the history of the city and Damien explained the background of how LA became LA. Stunning views of Los Angeles, from downtown to Santa Monica. Free parking at the Greek Theatre parking lot (when there aren't any events). Bring water (they do give you a bottle), hat, sunscreen. I was lucky and the day was overcast but it can get really hot there. Uphill walk for about 20 minutes so if you're not in shape, this is not the tour for you. Then the rest is pretty easy. Due to COVID, the Griffith Observatory is closed right now so you can't go inside. Good tour for locals (especially if you're not familiar with Griffith Park) and tourists.

4. Private Elegant & Sophisticated Wine Food Pairing Experience from San Francisco

Golden Horizon Tours
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5.0 based on 1 reviews

Choose quality over quantity - our goal is to exceed your expectation! 100% Local San Francisco Accredited & Established Business Since 2004 100% Glowing Feedback Including TripAdvisor, BBB + A rating & More 100% Peace of Mind; Hassle-Free Booking & Worry-Free Tour Packages 100% Trusted, Licensed and Bonded Local Tour Operator Since 2004 100% Tailor-Made Custom Tours & Freedom to Customize a La Carte Unique Itineraries & Lifetime 5-Star Experiences Guaranteed High Level & First-Class Services - No hidden Fees & Satisfaction Guaranteed Superior & Awards Including TripAdvisor, BBB A+ Rating, Gold Award of Business Credibility Trust + SF Travel & Convention Bureau Award & More Authentic Tour Experiences and Unique Destinations Unavailable Elsewhere Family-Friendly Tour Operator + Local Passionate & Fun-loving Multilingual Tour Guides Luxury Vehicles, Go Where You Want to Go & Travel at Your Pace High-Profile VIP Clients; Top Travel Custom Services Specialist

Inclusions: Fully private guided tours in luxury vehicles , parking, all taxes and pickup/drop off included , Complimentary pickup and drop off anywhere in downtown San Francisco, Fisherman’s Wharf, Presidio, Air-conditioned vehicle, All Fees and Taxes, Bottled water

Exclusions: Driver's gratuity (15%) other wine tasting fees, all optional fees or features not stated above

Reviewed By jpeek345

Mary McGarvey was our tour guide and we had very informed and fun trip from San Francisco to Big Sur, Carmel and ultimately Hearst Castle. Marys 'Janis Joplin-like' features (don't tell her I said that) only added to her excellent background info at all points. She seemed ready to regal us on any other stop that we could have chosen along the way. I learned so much from Mary as a representative of Golden Horizon Tours, her surrender to the field of "tour guide", her passionate knowledge of California but was especially impressed with getting to know the person behind it all. Sincerely, Jay-Justin Peek

5. Napa Valley Wine Train: The Legacy Winery Full-Day Tour

Napa Valley Wine Train, 1275 McKinstry St, Napa, CA 94559, USA Napa Valley Wine Train
Excellent
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Good
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4.5 based on 68 reviews

A legacy is handed down over time, through family and tradition. And lots and lots of wine. Robert Mondavi. Charles Krug. V. Sattui. The legacy of these Italian families represents a combined winemaking history of more than 300 years. And some very fine vintages. Some say this is where it all began. And this is where your journey begins.

Inclusions: 4-Course Napa style meal, Coffee and/or Tea, Welcome taste of sparkling wine, 1-hour each, tour and tasting at Mondavi, Charles Krug and V. Sattui

Exclusions: Gratuities, Alcoholic drinks (available to purchase), Souvenir photos (available to purchase)

Reviewed By xharenian

The trip itself was pretty exciting for the first half and then it got boring. The scenery isn't really great either if you're on the side viewing over the highway. The dinner option might have been better with the night view and the evening atmosphere and all that. My folks liked it anyway. I'd give it a better score when it comes to the memories one is able to retain from the trip. If you want to get discounts (seniors, military, etc.) you must book over the phone. I got screwed over on this because the reservationist failed to mention that fact and I booked online where discounts apparently don't apply. Credit card transactions can't be refunded after the fact so check up on the payment before proceeding.

6. Napa Valley Wine Train with Gourmet Lunch

Napa Valley Wine Train, 1275 McKinstry St, Napa, CA 94559, USA Napa Valley Wine Train
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4.4 based on 312 reviews

Hop aboard the famous Napa Valley Wine Train for an unforgettable dining experience! Travel in comfort aboard a restored antique train through beautiful Napa wine country to the quaint village of St Helena. On your 3-hour round-trip ride, relax and enjoy picturesque views while dining on a gourmet lunch followed by dessert. This is the most relaxing, exclusive way to experience Napa!

Inclusions: Multi-course lunch, 3 Hour Train journey, Coffee and tea

Exclusions: Server gratuities (recommended), Soft drinks, juice and alcoholic beverages (available for purchase), Hotel pickup and drop-off

Reviewed By xharenian

The trip itself was pretty exciting for the first half and then it got boring. The scenery isn't really great either if you're on the side viewing over the highway. The dinner option might have been better with the night view and the evening atmosphere and all that. My folks liked it anyway. I'd give it a better score when it comes to the memories one is able to retain from the trip. If you want to get discounts (seniors, military, etc.) you must book over the phone. I got screwed over on this because the reservationist failed to mention that fact and I booked online where discounts apparently don't apply. Credit card transactions can't be refunded after the fact so check up on the payment before proceeding.

7. Wild West Day Trip from Lake Tahoe with Train Ride

Discover Lake Tahoe - Scenic Bus Tours
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4.2 based on 54 reviews

Delve into Nevada’s Wild West mining history on this tour from South Lake Tahoe to Virginia City, a mining boomtown listed on the US National Register of Historic Places. With a knowledgeable guide, travel along part of the Pony Express on the drive to Virginia City, where you’ll take a ride on the Virginia & Truckee Railroad. Then explore the town however you wish, checking out museums and visiting the saloon.

Inclusions: Transport by air-conditioned shuttle bus, Train ride, Hotel pickup and drop-off (selected hotels only)

Exclusions: Lunch, Admission to attractions (optional), Gratuities

Reviewed By Suzanne D

5 stars. Great tour guide, Joe. Showed videos, explained our adventure all along the way. Great libations and food, breakfast lunch and snacks. COVID conscientious. Lively and knowledgeable and very likable guide. Nice buss too! However Type of visit, does not work.

8. Skunk Train: Wolf Tree Turn from Willits

299 E Commercial St, Willits, CA 95490, USA Skunk Train
Excellent
52%
Good
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Satisfactory
7%
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7%
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4.2 based on 48 reviews

This 2 hour round trip will take you from the Willits valley floor to the highest point on our rail line. During this trip you will pass through Tunnel #2 and descend into the redwood-thick Noyo River Canyon – an amazing ecological wonderland, and an excellent opportunity to discover the mighty giants that made Mendocino County famous. The train will stop briefly at Crowley while you enjoy the splendor of one of the oldest and most iconic trees along our route. The Wolf Tree was so named for the large growth off of one side – woodsman called these wolf trees because they choke out smaller trees and underbrush. Passengers are able to get off the train during our stop at Crowley, to better enjoy the views. You'll make the trip to Crowley on board one of our historic Diesel-Electric engines.

Inclusions: No other inclusions are offered.

Exclusions: No other exclusions. All tickets include an 8% Historic Preservation Assessment.

Reviewed By Julia T

Railbike trip to Glen Blair was great. Wish it could have been a longer trip. Johnny and Bruce were great guides.

9. Napa Valley Wine Train: Grgich Hills Winery Half-Day Tour

Napa Valley Wine Train, 1275 McKinstry St, Napa, CA 94559, USA Napa Valley Wine Train
Excellent
75%
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4.2 based on 10 reviews

Taste the wine that put Napa Valley on the map and get the inside track to a true Napa Valley legend. The winery itself is simple, quaint, and charming. But it’s one of the Napa Valley’s most famous stories. If you haven’t heard of the 1976 Paris Tasting, you soon will. After a gourmet lunch aboard our elegant Wine Train, indulge in a private tour and tasting at Grgich Hills Estate, home of one of the greatest winemakers in the world.

Inclusions: 2-hour train journey, Multiple course gourmet lunch, 1-hour tour and tasting at Grgich Hills Estate, Coffee and/or Tea

Exclusions: Server gratuities, Alcoholic Beverages, Soda/Pop

Reviewed By xharenian

The trip itself was pretty exciting for the first half and then it got boring. The scenery isn't really great either if you're on the side viewing over the highway. The dinner option might have been better with the night view and the evening atmosphere and all that. My folks liked it anyway. I'd give it a better score when it comes to the memories one is able to retain from the trip. If you want to get discounts (seniors, military, etc.) you must book over the phone. I got screwed over on this because the reservationist failed to mention that fact and I booked online where discounts apparently don't apply. Credit card transactions can't be refunded after the fact so check up on the payment before proceeding.

10. Napa Valley Wine Train Vista Dome Lunch Car

1275 McKinstry St, Napa, CA 94559, USA Napa Valley Wine Train
Excellent
55%
Good
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Satisfactory
9%
Poor
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Terrible
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Overall Ratings

4.0 based on 22 reviews

We take the exclusive Napa Valley dining experience to new heights. Fresh California cuisine and a beautiful three-hour journey aboard an elegant vintage train in our two-story Vista Dome, an elevated observation-style dining car with luxuriously plush booths, Honduran mahogany paneling, and lush views from practically every angle.

Inclusions: Glass of Champagne, Multiple Course Lunch prepared by a Chef on board, 3 Hour Train journey through the Napa Valley, Coffee and Tea, Lunch, Coffee and/or Tea

Exclusions: Alcoholic drinks (available to purchase), Drinks, Gratuities

Reviewed By rmast03

This tour exceeded my expectations. I hesitated due to the price, but am so glad I decided to make the splurge. It was well worth it, the staff was fantastic, the winery choices were perfection and it made my 40th birthday one to remember. Thank you!

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