9 Scenic Train Rides In Texas, USA

scenic train rides in texas

There is incredible magic and beauty when you travel in an old-fashioned, vintage train that takes you back in those times where technology was not born, so you could enjoy the vistas undisturbed. Texas has a very long history in this particular transportation system creating its first railroad back in 1853, while it was the first nation’s region to boast so many railway miles. In order to get a glimpse on how riders would enjoy a train ride a century ago, but also to explore the impeccable beauties of Texan nature, the state allows visitors to hop aboard scenic train rides in Texas that will take your breath away. Follow us to discover them!

1. Texas State Railroad Rusk Depot

Source: Photo by Flickr user QuesterMark used under CC BY-SA 2.0

Book this train ride to jump on a fascinating four-hour trip that takes you through the thrilling Piney Woods of the Texas State. Enjoy this adventure together with your family and let yourself travel back in another era. On this train ride, there is food and adult beverage service, comfortable seating (you may choose among six different accommodations), and a historical narration along the way, all included. Your excitement starts the moment you enter this 1920’s vintage car, while there will be a pleasant one-hour stop either at Palestine or Rusk depot.

Texas State Railroad

Website: Texas State Railroad

2. Grapevine Texas

Cotton Belt Route
Source: Photo by Flickr user Paul Sableman used under CC BY 2.0

A perfect, short getaway with your family, this retro-style train ride offers a unique experience stepping back in time. The Victorian-style locomotives will take you along the legendary Cotton Belt Route (originally the St. Louis Southwestern Railway), which starts its journey from downtown Grapevine and finishes at the historic district of Fort Worth Stockyards. The train operates usually during the weekends, but changes may occur depending on the season. The ride lasts approximately 4.5 hours, with a two-hour layover at Stockyards.

Grapevine Texas

Website: Grapevine Texas

3. Hill Country Flyer

Editor's Note: There's no photo available at the time of writing

Another family-friendly train ride, Hill Country Flyer, begins its exciting trip from Cedar Park in Texas and travels through the Texas Country Hill. The round-trip journey lasts about six hours and includes a two-hour layover at the popular tourist town Brunet. The 106 km (66 mi) ride goes through the wooden trestle bridge, continues on to South San Gabriel River and also the Short Creek Canyon, that form a part of the stunning Highland Lakes. At Burnet, you can have lunch and take a stroll around the historic city center. Tickets vary according to the class you choose.

Austin Steam Train Association

Website: Austin Steam Train Association

4. Historic Jefferson Railway

Jefferson October 2016 15 (Historic Jefferson Railway)
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Michael Barera used under CC BY-SA 4.0

This magnificent historic train ride takes place every Saturday from now till the end of August. The vintage locomotives are colorful and ideal for children, while kids under six years old join the rides for free. The highlight of this journey is a stop at the Diamond Don Gator Pit in order to feed alligators (weather permitting). There are narrated historical tours every Saturday at 12.30pm and 2.30pm. Excursions last approximately 45 minutes.

Jefferson Railway

Website: Jefferson Railway

5. San Antonio Zoo Eagle

Zoo train, San Antonio, TX IMG 3108
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Billy Hathorn used under CC BY-SA 3.0

Photo is only for illustrative purposes

An undoubtedly scenic train ride, in its very own way, the San Antonio Zoo Eagle is one of the features of San Antonio Zoo. Mostly suitable for kids (and their guardians), this epic train ride follows a brilliant route along the San Antonio River and goes through the most exciting parks. Among its various stops, are the spectacular Japanese Tea Gardens, the Witte Museum, and the Kiddie Park as well. Trains run daily during zoo hours unless the weather doesn’t permit, while the miniature railway travels about 4 km (2.5 mi).

San Antonio Zoo Eagle

Website: San Antonio Zoo Eagle

6. Texas Eagle

Texas Eagle at Dallas Union Station (2), August 2007
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Tim_kd5urs used under CC BY-SA 2.0

If you were wondering how to see more of Texas, then this is a unique chance to delve into the real Texas and fall in love with it. The adventurous Texas Eagle runs daily from Chicago to San Antonio (and vice versa) and the journey takes about 32 hours. Step into an unforgettable experience where you get to see the land of Lincoln, Illinois, travel across the Mississipi River, the Ozarks, and the trilling Piney Woods of East Texas. Along the way, you will pass through big cities, like the cosmopolitan Dallas, Austin, and finally the popular San Antonio.

Texas Eagle

Website: Texas Eagle

7. Heartland Flyer

Heartland Flyer at Ardmore station, April 2007
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Tim_kd5urs used under CC BY-SA 2.0

Heartland Flyer is one more captivating Amtrak route that starts its journey from Oklahoma City and ends in the city of Fort Worth, Texas. The trip lasts a bit over four hours. The best of these two states are chosen for you to experience. In Oklahoma, watch cowboy history come alive, catch a horse show, or visit the pools of Chickasaw National Recreation Area. When you reach Texas, be prepared to see real-life cowboys, dress up like one (why not?), bike your way around (yes, you may carry your bike), and watch a stunning concert at Bass Performance Hall. There is a cafe aboard, while you can bring along your small pet.

Heartland Flyer

Website: Heartland Flyer

8. Texas Transportation Museum

Texas Transportation museum sign
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user TParis used under CC BY-SA 3.0

Based in San Antonio, the Texas Transportation Museum came into life over 50 years ago by a caring team of volunteers who had the idea to collect and preserve transportation-related items. Part of their displays is old road vehicles and model train layouts, while there are also train rides operating usually during weekend afternoons. The train ride lasts about an hour and together with the museum’s tour, it’s a rather fun day out. Several events take place in the museum’s premises depending on the season, such as the Easter egg hunt.

Texas Transportation Museum

Website: Texas Transportation Museum

9. TEXRail

TEXRail In Motion Smithfield Nov 2019
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Danazar used under CC BY-SA 4.0

This brand new rail line began its journeys just a couple of months ago and covers a 43.4 km (27 mi) distance, from downtown Fort Worth to the DFW International Airport’s Terminal B. This commuter rail travels across the charming Tarrant County, through the beautiful wealthy suburb of North Richland Hills, and also the city of Grapevine, with the tastefully restored 19th and 20th century buildings. The rail is pretty modern and features quite comfortable seats.


Website: TEXRail

Travel back in time in a vintage train

scenic train rides in texas | travel back in time in a vintage train
Source: Pexels

Breathtaking scenery, old-fashioned trains, and travel in a stylish way, usually fairly comfortable, are what you get when you book one of the above scenic train rides in Texas. If you feel like having an adventure, then these rides will do just right.

Disclosure: Trip101 selects the listings in our articles independently. Some of the listings in this article contain affiliate links.

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Curious to see the world and eager to learn, I grew up trying to find ways to escape my comfort zone. Starting from my home country, Greece, I went on to explore many European countries. Then, I...Read more

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