With sugar-white sand and glittering blue-green water, Florida’s beaches are among the best in the world. Rivaling tropical Caribbean islands and far-flung bucket list destinations like Bali and the Maldives, Southerners—along with folks from all over the U.S.— flock to the Sunshine State’s sandy shores each year. There, they seek rest, relaxation, and a welcome retreat from the grind of everyday life.
While the phrase “beach vacation” may conjure memories of long hours spent riding in the family minivan, a road trip isn’t the only way to get to the coast—nor is an expensive plane flight. Our new favorite way to hit the beach starts with a scenic train ride down the eastern coast. That’s right, Amtrak runs two separate trains along the east coast, connecting Florida to northern hubs like New York City and Philadelphia, as well Southern cities like Baltimore, Washington D.C., Richmond, Raleigh and Charleston.
The Silver Star and Silver Meteor routes travel daily between New York City and Miami, making several stops in Florida beach towns like Jacksonville, Tampa, West Palm Beach, and Fort Lauderdale along the way. Both routes take between 28 to 32 hours total, so in a day (and likely less unless you’re traveling from way up north), you can go from landlocked living to oceanfront views.
The best part? There’s no driving required. Instead, you can sit back, relax, and enjoy the romantic nostalgia of train travel . Pick out a good book and cozy up to a window seat. If you want to catch up on some sleep, reserve a sleeper car and you’ll be at your destination before you know it. And of course, it wouldn’t be a proper train trip without a visit to the dining car . For breakfast, try a three-egg omelet with sun-dried tomatoes and mozzarella plus sides of potatoes and chicken sausage. Lunch and dinner entrees are served with a complimentary alcoholic beverage, so we recommend classing up your journey by ordering Slow Braised Beef Short Ribs and pairing them with a rich glass of Cabernet Sauvignon.
Once you make it to Florida, you may be tempted to do a little beach hoping. For that, the best strategy is to take the Brightline , Florida’s eco-friendly, door-to-door, high-speed train. The Brightline launched in 2018, connecting five of South Florida’s hottest beach cities —Miami, Aventura, Fort Lauderdale, Boca Raton, and West Palm Beach—as well as Orlando.
Passengers can choose between a Premium or Smart ticket. Premium ticket holders get access to an exclusive train station lounge stocked with complimentary coffee, soft drinks, beer, and wine, plus some light bites. Once on board, they’ll have access to more snacks and drinks. They also can use complimentary ride share with a five-mile radius of the train station upon embarkation and debarkation.
Travel time between each destination (not including Orlando) is about 20 minutes, with the entire route from Miami to West Palm Beach taking just an hour and a half. Tickets start at just $10, and trains run every hour or two, so you can catch a train to a sunny beach whenever you’re ready.