The Austin Steam Train offers rides through the Hill Country year round in fully restored coaches dating back to the 1920s. Departing from Cedar Park, the train has various routes to choose from. Its most popular route this summer is a ride to Burnet County and back with a 15-minute stop off in the town of Bertram, where riders can walk through a fully restored 1912 train depot, complete with old typewriters and luggage from the era.
Currently, the Southern Pacific steam locomotive that the Austin Steam Train normally uses is being reassembled. The 1960 Alco diesel locomotive is taking the lead in the mean time.
We took a ride on the Saturday Evening Express over the weekend and had a blast checking out the beautiful scenery and walking through the restored coaches.
The station is easy to miss if you have never been there before. It’s tucked away from the street in a strip center. Look for the Wild West night club, the Austin Steam Train storefront is next door, and the trains depart behind it.
We arrived 30 minutes early to pick up our tickets and find our seats on the train. Each coach is extremely different in its decor and seating arrangements. There are two adult-only cars if you’d like to take the train kid-free, and the rest are family friendly. Each car is stocked with snacks and beverages that are complimentary. There are apples, oranges, small brownies and other desert muffins, and some coaches had Gardetto’s and cookies. Tea and water was also served. You are also welcome to bring your own food on rides where meals are not provided, though certain restrictions apply. Read the FAQ for more info.
We took our seats and chatted until the train departed. A volunteer staff member brought us drinks and filled us in on how the whole shebang worked. He informed us that once we departed, we were free to move around and walk through all of the other coaches. We could also stand on the back deck of the train, where it is completely open and one of those views you always dream of seeing from a train. You can feel the wind in your hair and see the tracks roll out in front of you. It’s amazing!
The first car of the train is a 1920s coach with windows that open and close. This coach is open seating and you are welcome to sit as long as you’d like.
There is a snack car where you can buy things like trail mix, Skittles, M&Ms, chips and sodas. All items are just $1! There are also souvenirs for sale so you can always remember your trip.
There was a large gap in between certain coaches where you can look out of the train, feel the breeze and take in the scenery. We spent a lot of time in these spots! Our favorite part was moving from coach to coach and these little spots were where you could feel the freedom of traveling by train.
We stopped off in Bertram for our 15-minute layover to see the restored 1912 train depot. It was a tiny little thing that everyone could walk through to see the old typewriters and equipment that a train station of that era used. They even had old luggage in the back!
From there we rode on to Burnet to turn around. Turning around is a bit of a process on an old train. They have to stop the train, get out, and manually move the tracks. Our turn around took longer than usual as we had to wait for another train to pass before we could finish the process. Luckily, it was nice scenery and a beautiful evening so we didn’t mind too much.
On our way back to Cedar Park, the sun was setting and we had seen everything on the train. So we opted to hang out in another coach that we liked instead of heading back to our assigned seat. It was nice to have the freedom of moving around and switching up the scenery. It was nightfall before we knew it and we just relaxed and chatted until we got back to the station.
The Austin Steam Train was a very fun, unique outing. There were plenty of learning opportunities and the volunteer staff was very knowledgeable if you had any questions. Since they are volunteers, their love of trains is what keeps them on board so ask them questions, they want to share their knowledge!
The Austin Steam Train is offering Do512 Family readers 25 percent off the Bertram Flyer and the Summer Express rides with discount code do512! Click here to see all of the upcoming rides on the Austin Steam Train and to book your ride today.
The Austin Steam Train is giving away 4 tickets for either the Summer Express or the Bertram Flyer to one lucky reader. Enter below for your chance to win! We’ll be picking our winner Friday, July 18. Good luck!
** This giveaway is now closed. Congrats to our winner and thanks to everyone who entered!