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Florida's Incredible New High-speed Train Now Goes From Orlando to Miami — and I Was One of the First on Board - Travel + Leisure

Author: speed Train Now Goes From Orlando to Miami — and I Was One of the First on Board

Source: https://www.travelandleisure.com/florida-brightline-train-orlando-to-miami-what-its-like-8384021

Image of Florida's Incredible New High-speed Train Now Goes From Orlando to Miami — and I Was One of the First on Board - Travel + Leisure

As Brightline’s self-proclaimed No.1 fan, I’ve been waiting impatiently for its Orlando extension.Being a travel writer and central Florida native living in West Palm Beach, I feel like this modern high-speed train was made for me: not only can I hop between home and Miami (or Boca Raton, Fort Lauderdale, or Aventura) with ease, I can now sprint up to Orlando to see friends and family and include Orlando International Airport among my options when booking flights abroad, no three-hour drive required.(In fact, I recently booked a return flight into MCO instead of my usual PBI or FLL just because I could.) Heck, my husband and I might even become Annual Passholders at Walt Disney World now that the journey is this seamless.BrightlineFlorida's Brightline train now offers service from Orlando to Miami.It already offered transportation between West Palm Beach and Miami, Boca Raton, Fort Lauderdale, and Aventura.Premium tickets, which start at $149, come with lounge access and a complimentary checked bag.Brightline's Orlando route terminates insider Orlando International Airport.The train has a signature jasmine-musk scent.For all these reasons and more, I was ecstatic to be one of the first riders on Brightline’s recently debuted Orlando route, which currently terminates inside the Orlando International Airport.(There’s talk of extending to Disney and even Tampa.) While the train has run between West Palm Beach and Miami since 2018, its connection to Orlando has been an eagerly awaited development for Floridians and tourists alike.Skye Sherman/Travel + LeisureMy initial ride confirmed Brightline’s link north to Orlando was everything I had dreamed it would be. Our flight landed in Terminal A of the Orlando International Airport, so we took a short ride on the people mover to Terminal C, the location of Brightline’s Orlando station.From there, follow the signs to the Brightline station — it’s well-marked — then use your nose: Brightline’s signature grapefruit-jasmine musk scent wafts all the way to the escalators you’ll ride up to the station entrance.Don’t fret about tight connections: We had an hour allotted between plane landing and train departure, but only needed about 20 minutes.(Obviously, if you take the train to Orlando to depart by air, leave more time to make it to your flight.)Skye Sherman/Travel + LeisureUpon entering, you’re subject to a quick security scan; infrequent fliers can get a taste here of what that much-lauded TSA PreCheck life is like.You simply put your bags on the conveyor belt to be scanned, walk through, and grab them from the other end — no shoe removal or unpacking or pat-downs required. Easy.From there, you have a few choices.If you have time to spare, shop for made-in-Florida knick-knacks and treats in the gift shop or grab a craft cocktail at Mary Mary Bar.Those pressed for time or wanting grab-and-go options can peruse MRKT Place, which offers a convenience store-style selection of food and drink.Or — and this is what I’d recommend — spring for a Premium ticket (from $149), which will grant you access to an exclusive lounge in the station and a designated car on the train.It’s a nice place to wait, with floor-to-ceiling glass overlooking the tracks below and the green Florida landscapes beyond, and a first-class experience on board; many business travelers spring for Premium.While every level of the Brightline experience is luxurious, Premium elevates your trip further with free food and drink (including alcohol) in the station and on board, plus priority seating and a complimentary checked bag. (Riders with non-Premium tickets, called Smart tickets, pay $25 per bag.)Skye Sherman/Travel + LeisureA few minutes before departure, boarding begins; one quick escalator ride down to the platform and you’re walking onto a clean, sleek train car equipped with fast Wi-Fi, spacious leather seats, and power outlets a’plenty.(One couple even got married on the train, so you know it’s nice.)The ride between Orlando and West Palm Beach — during which you’ll have to try very hard to resist schadenfreude as you dart past standstill traffic at speeds of up to 125 mph — takes about two hours; add another hour if you’re going the full distance to Miami.But time flies as you work, chat, grab bites from the snack cart, and take restroom breaks, all without having to pull off the highway or abide by GPS re-routes.Truthfully, you couldn’t pay me to drive this route now that the train is an option.While there’s enough on board to keep you occupied, don’t forget to gaze out the window for a spell: as we careened through swampland and small towns then sped across the St.Lucie River in Stuart, mere inches above the water, I felt as if I’d been transported back in time to the golden age of train travel in Florida, when Henry Flagler’s Overseas Railroad stretched all the way south to Key West. Courtesy of BrightlineFlorida has always been a land of promise, of rainbows and sunshine — literally — but with this convenient and scenic rail line (re)instated, I’ve never felt more proud to call the state my home.On your next trip to Florida, don’t pass up the chance to add Miami to your Disney vacation, or an Orlando excursion to your South Florida trip — it’s never been easier to see it all.Brightline now runs 30 trains per day (15 round trips) between Orlando and Miami, with hourly northbound and southbound departures running from early in the morning to late at night.One-way Smart fares start at $79 for adults and $39 for kids; if you have a group of four or more, you’ll automatically save 25 percent on Smart fares.One-way Premium fares start at $149.

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