Trains, those ancient and rickety metal horses, are back to transport us into the future. As gas prices continue to rise, modern cities create more bicycle lanes, and young people embrace a more active lifestyle instead of sitting behind the wheel of a car twenty-four hours a day. No longer is riding the train considered old-fashioned – it's now hip and fashionable. Here are ten trains that can take you on a journey through Florida.
10. Sunshine State with Brightline from Miami to West Palm Beach
Brightline is a passenger railroad that connects Miami, Fort Lauderdale, and West Palm Beach. The train has been described as "Wi-Fi on wheels" because of the free onboard amenities, including comfortable seats and interactive entertainment options. Brightline even offers food selections from local restaurants via curbside delivery! And if you're looking to catch a little shut-eye, the train has reserved quiet cars and business class options. The Brightline ride is smooth, with hardly any bumps or vibrations, making for a splendid trip! The trains depart every thirty minutes during peak hours, and they've just announced that starting in August of 2018, their service will be expanding from Fort Lauderdale to Orlando. Each train has two locomotives and four coaches holding up to 240 passengers, and the ride is so efficient and quick – you'll be surprised at just how fast it can take you across state lines.
9. Amtrak Silver Meteor from Miami to New York City
The Silver Meteor runs from Miami and stops West Palm Beach, Fort Lauderdale, and Hollywood en route to New York. There are numerous amenities provided on the train – comfortable seats, food options, restrooms – but what makes this ride particularly great is the attention paid to customer service. Onboard we noticed that staff members were constantly walking the aisles and checking in with passengers. The friendly conductors invited us to join them at their table for dinner, and one even handed out homemade brownies! The train itself was very comfortable and quiet, offering a great ride through Florida's interior.
8. Gold Coast Railroad Museum Train Ride
The Gold Coast Railroad Museum is a great way to step back in time and see Florida's history. Located just west of West Palm Beach, the museum features various historical items, including two steam locomotives, an electric trolley, cabooses, passenger cars, freight equipment, and more. The train rides themselves are inexpensive – only a couple of dollars per person – and offer a great way to take in local history. We hopped on the 1920s Florida East Coast passenger train, which took us from Royal Park Station in West Palm Beach through amazing scenery, including dense forests, open fields, and natural wildlife preserves.
7. Royal Palm Railway Train Ride
The Royal Palm Railway is another great way to take in some of Florida's natural beauty. The train runs from Royal Park Station in West Palm Beach, through some of Florida's wildest areas, including the Loxahatchee National Wildlife Refuge and Boynton Beach Community Garden, before ending at Roger Dean Stadium home of the Miami Marlins Grapefruit League spring training. The Royal Palm Railway is a fun way to get in some outdoor exercise while enjoying the sights of Florida.
6. Murder Mystery Dinner Train
Want to solve a murder mystery but don't want to leave the cozy confines of Florida? Take the Murder Mystery Dinner Train. According to thier official website, the train departs from Historic Sandford Station in Sanford, FL, and has you playing amateur sleuth while eating a delicious three-course meal. You'll decipher clues with your friends, come up with a plan to solve the crime, and root out the culprit. The ride is a relaxing one – we see why they call it a "dinner" train – and you can even book your reservation online, so there isn't any hassle once you arrive at the station.
5. Florida Railroad Museum Train Ride
The Florida Railroad Museum has several train rides you can take, including a 30-minute round trip through the wilds of the peninsula, a two-hour narrated tour that takes you from their West Palm Beach station to Boynton Beach and back, and special seasonal trains like their holiday-themed "Santa Train" or pumpkin patch train during October. During our ride on the 30-minute round trip, we saw some beautiful scenery, including open fields, dense forests, and wildlife preserves home to foxes, bobcats, turtles, and more.
4. Amtrak Auto Train
The Auto Train is a great option for families, particularly kids in their teens or young adults. The train offers some amenities, including a lounge car with games and activities, food options like pizza and microwavable snacks, restrooms, and comfortable seats. What makes the Auto Train truly unique is that it can transport your car and everyone in it! Before arriving in Florida, the train leaves from Lorton, VA, and stops Sanford, FL.
3. Disney World's magic and history on the Disney World Express
Adults and older kids will appreciate that the Disney World Express offers a look into Walt Disney's imagination and Florida's history of travel. Between 1959 and 1971, over 100,000 tourists rode the "Lilie Belle," the Victorian-era-themed train at Disney World. Today you can get a taste of the history with a trip on this train between the Magic Kingdom and Disney's Hollywood Studios. You also get to see some great scenery, including wildlife preserves, open fields, and dense forests – you don't even need to leave the park!
2. Largo Central Railroad
The Largo Central Railroad, run by the Pinellas Trail, has a historic B&W caboose you can take short rides in on Saturday mornings. The railroad also runs the Pinellas Trail Trolley, which is free to ride and gives visitors some great scenic views of Largo – including a look at some beautiful homes – before arriving on the trail.
1. Seminole Gulf Railway
Another great way to take in the beauty of Florida's wild areas is to take the Seminole Gulf Railway. According to their official website, the first Seminole Gulf Railway train started operating into Punta Gorda on July 24, 1886. The railway operates between Fort Myers and Naples, through Florida's most beautiful places like Estero Bay Preserve State Park and Bonita Springs. The train travels along a scenic route that hugs the coastline with views of gulf islands. During May and June, it even offers daily trips to take you through the Imperial River, where thousands of birds flock around the famous bird rookery known as the Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary.
Train rides offer a relaxing way to see all of Florida's amazing places and sights. You can also take the train to your next destination within the state, making for a great travel experience. All the above train rides offer stunning views and a great way to take in the beauty of Florida from the comfort of a train seat or car.
Written by Liz Flynn
Read more posts by Liz Flynn