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“A Blast from the Past”
Review of Hill Country Flyer

Hill Country Flyer
Ranked #129 of 284 things to do in Austin
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Attraction details
Owner description: Weekly train ride that tours on a 33-mile journey through Texas' Hill Country.
Reviewed 5 March 2018

Previous reviews seem to be scattered all over: some thinking this trip wonderful/others not so. Admittedly we love train rides. This excursion designed to be a whole day's event did not disappoint. The volunteers went out of their way to accommodate even allowing this elder person to sit in the engineer's seat. The train cars were handsomely refurbished. In the first class lounge were coffee, pastries, and fruit available. This being our first Texas trip, it gave a picture of the hill country of Texas. The time in Burnet was adequate and informative. Town fold were extremely congenial.

The one small detraction was the seating arrangement of the lounge car. We were assigned seats that faced inward. The seats were quite low. For shorter folk, viewing the countryside was a challenge. On the return we moved the seats to better take in the passing scenery. Choose your seating wisely.

We definitely recommend this trip.

1  Thank dianel103
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Reviews (31)
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"north pole"
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"concession car"
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in 2 reviews
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3 - 7 of 31 reviews

Reviewed 7 January 2018 via mobile

On the first Hill Country Flyer of 2018. A nice day trip from Cedar Park, TX (about 20-30 minutes northwest of Austin, TX) to Burnet, TX. It’s 33 miles, departs at 10am and takes slightly less than 2 hours. You then have a good 2 hours for lunch, shopping or browsing around. In January, the views of the Hill Country aren’t too spectacular. But I can imagine in March and April when the wild flowers are out, the views will be gorgeous. Nonetheless, we enjoyed the ride. The break in Burnet was enough for us (family with two young kids) to grab quick lunch, walk to the historic downtown for ice cream at Happy Scoops (highly recommended!), on to Hamilton Creek Park to let the kids play at the playground there for about 45 minutes and to walk back to the train. We had plenty of time for all that and could take it leisurely.
The historic downtown was quiet, but again, in April during and around the blue bonnets festival it’ll be very different. If you’re a shopper, you may not have enough time. But the break as is, was enough for my family.

The ride gets you back at 4pm. If you ask nicely you can go into the steam engine up front and they’ll explain you how it works, either in Burnet or back in Cedar Parks.

FYI, as we didn’t know what the carts looked like. We had seats in the Buckeye Lake cart. For your information, those are chairs only. Chairs are comfortable, but no tables, no cup holders etc. They can flip over seats to get a family of 4 together or 2 by 2. Bathrooms are on the train. They’ll lock those before getting to the station without a warning, but will mention it on the intercom. You can walk all the way back to the train to be on a platform to see out back for photos.

Friendly staff! Nice train ride!

3  Thank MoniqueG1561
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 26 November 2017 via mobile

This was our first experience on the Hill Country Flyer departing from Whitestone Blvd Station in Austin Tx on a round robin to Bertram with no debarkation. We rode on a Sunday morning at 0830. We arrived at 8am and picked up our tickets from the office, then stood in line for nearly 30 minutes with the rest of the passengers waiting to board the train. At about 0825 the train finally pulled up into the yard, it was very loud and fun to see! My husband and I have traveled by train throughout Europe, so we were curious how this would compare. We decided to book last minute so the only tickets remaining were in the coach Buckeye Trail car, we paid $50 for ourselves and two lap children which were free under age three. $100 for a 2 hour trip with a 2 yr old and 7 mo old.

The North Pole Flyer excursion advertised the following attractions; Santa, Mrs.Clause, hot cocoa, a cookie, and an elf reading a story. I read another review that claimed to lack the themed attractions however I’m very pleased to say we had a great experience and loved all the entertainment! The coach was also decorated with a simple garland, strung above the luggage rack and a few wrapped gifts stowed above. I noticed upon entering the coach that some seats had little candy canes set upon them, ours did not, we didn’t ask for any however.

The coach seats were comfortable, when you hear coach one usually doesn’t envision comfort, however there was plenty of leg room, and a place to store belongings underneath the seat. The seats had arm rests and seamed to recline. No tray tables or cup holders, which would have been nice, ask me how one holds a lap child and a hot cocoa :/

The little things made this experience so fun, Climbing up the train from the platform, the natural sway along the tracks, hearing the whistle blow as we passed vehicle crossings, waving at stopped cars, going over the little stream, and when the conductor came by to punch our tickets. I love that the tickets were actually printed and traditional, with the way the world is going virtual it’s nice to hold onto a few mementos.

The Christmas theme was adorable, all the advertised attractions played the part ;) I was very impressed by the Santa and mrs clause, they were authentic looking and friendly, we even had time to take pictures with Santa. He handed out large wooden train whistles to the children, so fun! There was also an elf who led a sing along and a balloon animal artist, he told jokes and interacted with the passengers, he made an animal for every kid, wow! They came through with crayons and a coloring sheet next.

The bathroom was in working order and had a regular throne and ample toilet paper, there was also a sink with soap and paper towels. I would say it’s better than a coach airplane ride by a landslide.

From a security stand point, I was very surprised that they didn’t check anyone’s bags, these days I think that’s becoming the norm and I felt a little paranoid since they didn’t have any security personnel present.

Other reviews have mentioned the dismal scenery, I don’t have much to add....but we didn’t expect any sprawling vistas, this isn’t the Black Forest after all.

We found the trip relaxing and fun for the kids, it was the perfect length, any longer with two kids would have been challenging. We noticed many passengers showed up in pajamas, adults too. The Christmas spirit was definitely present! We liked this more than other Christmas themed family events we’ve tried like the children’s theatre or sea worlds Christmas, a great family activity!

Thank Aviatrx
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 23 September 2017

We did the Octoberfest themed evening trip, and it was fun! It was an evening trip started when there was still some light so you could see scenery on the way out of town, and then got dark. Not a big deal though because the entertainment and food on the train was super.

Unless you have kids, I would only recommend one of these "theme" nights that offer food and adult beverages. Also, book early so you can get in one the the "first class lounge cars" those are the ones with tables and chairs vs. just rows of chairs.

The food on this themed trip was great, they had musicians roaming the cars and all the volunteers that run the operation were really friendly. It was really cool talking to the knowledgeable staff and roaming through the various old train cars which each was very different. Overall a really fun night!

1  Thank Ron H
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Reviewed 20 September 2017

Bad experience with this poorly run so called business. Do not waste your time or money on this experience. We had to reschedule because of illness on a Saturday morning excursion and called in on Saturday, Sunday, and Monday to reschedule since there is a 72 hour cancel notice. What they do not not do is answer the telephone and the phone prompts are a joke and waste of time! The phone recording says the office is only open Tuesday through Friday from 10AM to 3PM. How are you supposed to reschedule within 72 hours. I talked to their phone rep and he escalated to their management but they denied my request. Lost all my money and wasted my time.

2  Thank Rockhound66
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC

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