7 epic train rides in Texas

I love taking the train. American transportation has shifted from railroads, steam to diesel, horse-drawn streetcars to electric streetcars, passenger trains, and city rail transportation. Today we are looking for fast jets or sleek car trips, but what about the rollback of rail transport and passenger trains. There is something about the heyday of train travel that is fun for all ages. It’s time to slow down, relax, and let the scenery flow past us. Let’s explore Texas train rides, great fun to share with the grandchildren. All aboard!

1. The Piney Woods Excursion Train at the Texas State Railroad in Palestine

Climb aboard a refurbished train car at the Texas State Railroad and feel like you’ve stepped back 100 years, where time slows down and tensions melt away. Relax and enjoy a 4-hour round-trip train tour from Palestine to Rusk and back, with vintage steam and diesel locomotives gliding through the pine woods of East Texas as the fall leaves are starting to take on hues of gold, orange, yellow and red.

At the depot, learn about rail communities, savor a family bite to eat at the Rusk Mail Car Cafe, and shop for gifts and souvenirs at Roundhouse 1909 in Palestine. Ride in comfort, enjoy a historical narrative, meet friendly and entertaining staff, and sample adult food and drink as you travel. The four-hour train ride breaks down into a 1.5-hour, 25-mile ride to the destination depot, an hour for lunch, and a 1.5-hour round trip.

In October, the Pumpkin Patch Express departs from Rusk, a 30-minute round-trip train ride, featuring cart rides, spooky music, a bounce house, concessions, and treats on Trick or Treat Street. Each child chooses a pumpkin to take home to carve.

Book now for the Polar Express for November and December. There is limited seating in the Presidential Class Car where a ride with Santa Claus, souvenir Polar Express mugs, hot chocolate and cookies is a magical experience.

Rusk Campground camping facilities offer an on-site stay on a historic railroad, with access to depot amenities including lunch, gift shop, and cinema access on days of train departure. Movies shot on the Texas State Railroad are featured, starring stars like Denzel Washington, George Clooney, John Goodman and Sam Elliot.

2. Austin Steam Train

All aboard! Take the historic Hill Country Flyer 6-hour, 66-mile round trip from Cedar Park, north of Austin and just east of Lake Travis, to Burnet with a brief stop for lunch and shopping. There is at least four classes of service: Tour coach, first class coach, first class lounge and first class lounge for adults only.

The Bertram Flyer is a shorter trip, going from Cedar Park to Bertram, with a 15 minute stopover in Bertram with enough time to visit the 1912 train depot there. The train runs from March to November on Saturdays and Sundays.

The North Pole Flyer 2021 with Santa Claus departs from Bertram and is a 2 hour round trip. Arrive at least 30 to 45 minutes before departure and be in your seat no later than 10 minutes before train departure. Read the terms and conditions regarding refunds and restrictions.

Enjoy a hot chocolate and the elf reading North Pole Flyer delivered.

Learn more about vintage train cars here.

The Grapevine Vintage Railroad in downtown Grapevine, Texas (Photo Credit: Dorti / Shutterstock.com)

3. The Vintage Grapevine Railway

The Vintage Railroad Grapevine offers unique train rides in authentic 1920s Victorian coaches throughout the year along the Cotton Belt Route, from Main Street Station in Grapevine to the stockyards of Fort Worth. Check out the calendar for special events such as Murder Mystery Trains and booked group events.

Wear your costume on the Witches Brew Train on October 29, 2021, which features appetizers and local draft beer served in a souvenir mug. Take the time to visit the haunted repository. Wear your Halloween costume on the Trick ‘R Treat Trains on October 30 and enjoy this hour-long excursion.

Book now for the 1-hour North Pole Express November through December, presented by Great Wolf Lodge and Trinity Metro TEXRail. Wear your Christmas pajamas as you take a Christmas trip to Santa’s Workshop, a family trip. The After Christmas trains run from December 26 to 30, 2021 in coaches decorated for the holidays while continuing the Christmas spirit.

In April, hop aboard the Jazz Wine Train aboard 1920s Victorian coaches with soulful jazz entertainment while sipping excellent Grapevine wine. Enjoy appetizers and a trio box of desserts. Sip wine from several vineyard tasting rooms in a souvenir wine glass.

Bring the little ones for a Date with Thomas, presented by Mattel. Get on the train with the classic storytelling engine and have fun with “trains, games and miles of smiles!” Grapevine Vintage Railroad is partnering with the Museum of the American Railroad and Mattel to organize this event.

The 45-minute Grapevine Railroad Stockyards Trinity River tour departs historic Fort Worth stockyards, crosses both canals of the Trinity River, passes through Trinity Park, and stops briefly at Historic 8th Avenue Rail Park before go back to the stockyards. You’ll see the Great Train Heist, with greedy outlaws and railroad detectives up close.

Jefferson Railroad Bridge in Jefferson, Texas.
Jefferson Railroad Bridge in Jefferson, Texas (Photo credit: Martina Birnbaum / Shutterstock.com)

4. Jefferson Railway

The historic Jefferson to Jefferson Railway takes you through beautiful pine forests and wetlands along Big Cypress Bayou. The journey takes around 40 minutes, with a stop at Diamond Don Gator Pit to witness the feeding of live and hungry alligators. A gasoline-powered Plymouth locomotive, first built in 1910, called “The Critter”, is featured. The railroad sponsors major events throughout the year, drawing more than 20,000 visitors to Jefferson.

Keep your eyes peeled for the Boggy Creek Monster, star of the upcoming horror feature film, Peaty stream, shot in Jefferson and Uncertain. The beast resembles the old monster Bigfoot or Sasquatch, and is directed and produced by Brian T. Jaynes.

Jefferson Train Days, which takes place each May, is the historic Jefferson Train show with model train setups, Kids Corral, model train and toy vendors, and the Thomas The Train play area. You can take the historic Jefferson Railway and the Lonesome Dove Safari and Train petting zoo.

Halloween Express offers daytime and evening storytelling rides every Saturday in October featuring monsters from the deep. Hear the storyteller with this 40-minute train tour featuring ghostly spirits, the monster or Bigfoot emerging from the swamps, but it’s not scary.

Enjoy the daytime and evening guided Christmas express train tours with Christmas vignettes along the beautiful Big Cypress Bayou River. The New Year’s Express features drinks, noise makers and with bullet drop and five authentic cannons firing a dramatic “dragon’s breath”.

On the last weekend of May, witness the Great Locomotive Pursuit and Civil War battle with reenactments from the north and south. Climb aboard the replica of the 1870s steam train and hear the story of the Andrews Raid, an exciting railway history. Motor # 7, known as Robert E. Lee, will take you along Big Cypress Bayou, through pine woods, where you can see a Confederate Powder Magazine and get to the site of one of the oldest historic towns in Texas. Climb aboard the famous ghost train of the historic Jefferson Railway to discover the lairs of the Civil War.

5. Amtrak

Amtrak operates a state-supported Heartland Flyer train daily from Fort Worth to Gainsville and Oklahoma City. Two nationwide trains run deep into the heart of Texas, the Texas Eagle, with daily service from Chicago to St. Louis, Little Rock, Texarkana, through the pine forests of east Texas to Dallas , Fort Worth, the city of cowboys and culture, and San Antonio, the home of the Alamo and the River Walk. A tri-weekly service through Sunset Limited takes you through El Paso, Tucson, Palm Springs to Los Angeles. This Texas Eagle Amtrak route is the longest route from Chicago to Los Angeles and spans 65 hours and three nights on the train, including Superliner Sleeping Car accommodation as well as the famous Sightseer Lounge and Dining Car serving fresh meals. complete. You can also head east to New Orleans from Houston on Amtrak.

Trinity Railway Express train in Dallas, Texas.
Trinity Railway Express train in Dallas, Texas (Photo credit: Philip Lange / Shutterstock.com)

6. The Trinity Metro TEXRail and the Trinity Railway Express

A 27 mile commuter train, the Trinity Metro TEXRail connects passengers from Terminal B at Dallas Fort Worth International Airport (DFW) to Grapevine Main Station, North Richland Hills and downtown Fort Worth. The Trinity Railway Express connects Fort Worth to T&P Station with Dallas to Union EBJ Station (Eddie Bernice Johnson).

7. The future high speed train of Texas from Dallas / Fort Worth to Houston

As many as 100,000 Texans, known as “super-commuters,” travel between Houston and Dallas / Fort Worth more than once a week, and many more travel multiple times a month. The Future is a 240-mile high-speed rail line with a train running at over 200 miles per hour, transporting passengers between the two metropolises in less than 90 minutes. You’ll enjoy wide two-by-two seats with plenty of legroom and a choice of service levels, along with quiet and functional cabins and catering. There are plenty of power outlets and WiFi, with competitive rates for air service or road trips.

Departures are every 30 minutes. Passengers can select seats, purchase tickets, and onboard food and drink before boarding. There is one stop en route in Grimes County between College Station and Huntsville. Houston Station is located at the Northwest Mall, near US 290 and Interstate 610. Dallas Station, located in the revitalized Cedars district of Dallas, is south of downtown near the Interstate interchanges 30 and 35.

Don’t have enough? Check out these other train travel options:

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