4 Tips for Riding the Texas State Railroad

Texas State Railroad

MY MOM AND I RODE THE TEXAS STATE RAILROAD THIS PAST WEEKEND!!!!!

I’ve been trying to tackle the surrounding cities and make the most of where I am because I believe “we are all perfectly capable of making the most of where we are. We just need a willingness to do so.”

WELL, while researching online and brainstorming adventures, I came across the Texas State Railroad in Rusk/Palestine.

I HAVE ALWAYS WANTED TO TAKE A TRAIN RIDE, YOU GUYS! IT’S ON MY BUCKET LIST!

I asked my mom if she would want to go and she said YES! So, we got out our calendars and made plans to go this past weekend because WHY THE HECK NOT!?

The Texas State Railroad, also known as the Piney Woods Route, is a historic, 50-mile roundtrip train ride between Rusk, TX and Palestine, TX. It’s known NATIONWIDE! I obviously researched it beforehand and learned PEOPLE TRAVEL FROM ALL OVER TO RIDE THE TEXAS STATE RAILROAD. Specifically, during the fall when the leaves are changing colors!

WHO KNEW THIS WAS SUCH A BIG DEAL!?

I SURE DIDN’T!

AND IT IS RIGHT IN OUR BACKYARD! Well…kinda. Not really. Rusk is a little over an hour away from White Oak but it’s 100% worth the drive! #NoRegrets

Naturally, I accidentally signed up for the children’s Pumpkin Patch. You’re clearly shocked, I know. But when have I ever done anything right the first time around?

*phone rings*

“Did you know you signed up for the children’s Pumpkin Patch ride?”

“Oh…um…no…did I really?”

“Yes!”

“Oh…BAHAHAHAHA! Oops!”

“Would you like for me to switch you to the regular train ride?”

“Yes please!”

Now, on basically any other occasion, I would have done this on purpose (#ChildAtHeart) but for the first time in my life, that wasn’t the case. The lady was very kind and understanding and helped me switch over to the correct tickets! I was surprised (but thankful!) she called because I think we all know most people wouldn’t have noticed the mistake, much less cared enough to call and clarify with the customer!

I’m grateful for people who don’t do the bare minimum and willingly go out of their way to make others comfortable and put them first. She could have EASILY chosen not to say anything and we would’ve never known our predicament until we got there. That simple phone call left a good impression on me and I knew this train ride would be well worth it…

…AND IT WAS! IT WAS THE ACTUAL BEST. CHECK IT OUT!

SCENES FROM FAMOUS MOVIES WERE FILMED ON THIS TRAIN AND A LOT OF PRESIDENTS HAVE RIDDEN IT! Denzel Washington (who is literally one of the greatest actors known to man) rode it in The Great Debaters. THAT IS WAY TOO COOL, YOU GUYS!

How often do you get to ride on the very same train as John F. Kennedy, Denzel Washington, and Sally Field? Oh, that’s right! N E V E R!

Great.

I’m glad we got that cleared up.

THIS THING HAS HISTORY AND IT’S THE BEST THING EVER.

SIDE NOTE: They have The Polar Express where kids can wear pajamas and watch the movie and go see Santa and drink hot chocolate on the train! OH MY GOSH. I’m hoping there isn’t an age limit because I’m 100% sure I’m doing it with all the little kids. Fight me. Also, you can bet your bottom dollar I would work here during Christmastime if I lived closer.

It costs about $50.00 for a ticket…which sounds expensive but really isn’t when you think about it. The entire experience lasts 4 hours. If you follow my tips below, you won’t spend more than that (unless you buy something in the gift shop). It’s technically about $12.50/hour and helloooooooo, YOU’RE ON A TRAIN. THIS IS A ONCE IN A LIFETIME OPPORTUNITY…or not. Maybe you ride trains all the time, I DON’T KNOW.

REGARDLESS, the Texas State Railroad is one of the top train rides in the United States so IF YOU SNOOZE, YOU LOSE.

Here are 4 tips for riding the Texas State Railroad.

1. Call beforehand and ask about seating.

I’m sure you can pick which car you’d like to sit in. The prices may vary, though! I don’t know. We lucked out and were seated at a table! AND EVERYONE HAD A TABLE TO THEMSELVES. IT WAS MARVELOUS. I’d definitely recommend sitting there!

There were several passenger cars (I’m not sure if that’s the right word or not) and about 30 people on each one. Other cars had the same seating without the tables and all the benches were facing forward. And then another car had wooden benches!

Again, we didn’t know we would be sitting at a table until we got there. So, if you have a preference, I would call and ask about it to make sure your ticket enables you to sit where you’d like.

2. Take a Secret Sack Lunch (but don’t tell anybody I told you…or else!). 

Whenever I had first signed up for the Pumpkin Patch ride (LOL), I thought we had to bring a sack lunch. I couldn’t remember, though, so I called and asked about it on the way there. The lady told us, “Do NOT bring any food or drink onto the train.”

So, we didn’t.

But on the way there, an old man plopped out basically a five course meal! He had bananas, nuts, water, grapes, etc. and nobody seemed to mind…or maybe they just didn’t see? WE SAW, THOUGH.

WE.

SAW.

They do have a concession stand on the train if you get hungry! We didn’t get anything but several people bought popcorn and drinks so just know that option is there.

When we got to Palestine, we had to wait in a really long line in order to get the food. They had burgers, hot dogs (I think), chicken fingers, and a few other things. No chicken salad, though! *rolls eyes*

My mom and I both got turkey sandwiches!

Although it was good, we couldn’t help but notice other people knew something we didn’t. Several people brought sack lunches. ONE DUDE EVEN HAD A COOLER.

If you bring a sack lunch (and keep it in your bag until you get to Palestine), you’ll have a lot more time to eat and walk around and take pictures rather than scarfing your food down (which I do anyway…but that’s beside the point). We only had a few minutes to use the restroom and whatnot before it was time to board again!

We spent at least 45 minutes of our one-hour layover standing in line for food.

I’M NOT SUGGESTING YOU BRING THE FOOD OUT ON THE TRAIN IN BROAD DAYLIGHT. I’M JUST SAYING…if I ever ride the Texas State Railroad again, I may or may not be bringing a Secret Sack Lunch.

So, take that information and do with it what you will. Don’t tell on me because then you’ll ruin it for everybody.

Don’t be that guy.

3. If it’s available, try to book your trip for early November.

I’m not sure if it’s even available for booking in November, but if so, that’s when you should go! This was the only weekend my mom and I could go and WE *WERE* GOING…whether the leaves had changed colors already or not!

The ride was just as beautiful and breathtaking, but the fall colors definitely would’ve added to it for obvious reasons.

IT WAS STILL INCREDIBLE SO EVEN IF YOU CAN’T WAIT AND GO LATER WHEN THE LEAVES HAVE CHANGED COLORS, THAT’S A-OK!

You should still go.

You won’t regret it.

Either way, you’re riding the Texas State Railroad through the heart of East Texas and it doesn’t get better than that!

4. Go with someone who appreciates the simple things in life.

I’M NOT GOING TO LIE, a few people dozed off on the ride back because this train ride is the most peaceful ride in all the land. There’s Big Band music playing softly over the speakers and you’re just sitting there staring at the scenery. So, make sure you go with someone who doesn’t mind sitting still for a while…someone who appreciates the quietness and simplicity of the moment!

There’s nobody else I would have rather gone with than my mom!

This is what she actually looked like while staring out the window. I had to get a picture for obvious reasons. She’s an angel and light radiates from her. SHE WAS GRINNING THE WHOLE TIME AND I LOVED IT SO MUCH.

If you’re looking for a lot of entertainment and action, this isn’t for you.

It takes 1.5 hours each way. Again, we didn’t get bored, but if you’re someone who gets antsy (or sleepy) then you might not want to go, hahahaha.

You could bring a deck of cards if you’d like! Just be prepared to do a lot of sitting and looking and listening to Big Band instrumental music.

The Texas State Railroad is the experience of a lifetime. Everybody should ride it!

I can assure you…you will be so glad you did!

The entire day was wonderful and fun and peaceful and simple and relaxing…and I wouldn’t have wanted to go with anybody else but my best friend.

Have you ever ridden the Texas State Railroad? Do you have any extra tips for readers?

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