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By: Angela Caraway-Carlton

Cut Your Time in the Car with an Easy Ride on the Brightline

Sitting in traffic is never fun, especially on vacation, so why not ditch the car and let someone else do all the work? Now, traveling to a prime destination around South Florida is as easy as strolling, or rolling your bag, onto the Brightline trains. The higher-speed trains, which reach top speeds of 79 miles per hour, make three stops at stations in the heart of Downtown Miami, Fort Lauderdale and West Palm Beach, connecting all three counties. All you have to do is sit back and relax.

The sleek trains have been a major transportation game-changer for South Florida residents and visitors, cutting down on travel time, parking and stress — plus, they’re clean, comfy, spacious and modern. With around 34 departures Monday through Friday, 20 departures on Saturday and 18 departures on Sunday, you can easily book a ride at the station, on their website, or download the app on your phone. We suggest the app because you can always make changes to your schedule or check arrival/departures times.

Exciting changes are also coming – the train service now has a marketing partnership with Virgin Group and will begin rebranding to Virgin Trains in the second half of 2020. Also, look for new and convenient routes. New train stations along the South Corridor in Boca Raton and Aventura along with PortMiami will begin service by the end of 2020. Construction is also well underway to connect South Florida to the Orlando International Airport (MCO) in 2022, and discussions are underway to add a station at Walt Disney World Resort.


Pick Your Pleasure

Brightline offers three ways to travel at different price points. Budget-conscious travelers can choose the Smart Service, which includes your seat and the option to buy food and beverages at the station and on the train. Upgrade to Smart Plus Service for one complimentary drink (alcoholic or non-alcoholic) and a snack on the train. If you want extra perks (and to travel like a VIP), choose Select Service for complimentary parking, access to the business center in station, wider seats and all-you-can-eat food and beverages in the dedicated station lounge and on the train.

One-way ticket prices range from $10 - $30, but Brightline often offers promotions with deep discounts like $5 one-way rides or two-for-one rides. You can also look for special train-to-port packages. Throughout the year, the trains also offer special events like the Polar Express rides, and culinary adventures.

Brightline Station Skyline
Brightline Station Skyline

The Experience

You’ll want to arrive at least 30 minutes before your departure to get through the security check, and boarding begins ten minutes before departure. The Brightline experience starts at the station, where after scanning your ticket and breezing through security, you can buy snacks, beverages, or something you may have forgotten. Tables fitted with outlets, comfy chairs and couches are sprinkled throughout the station so you can work or kick back until the train departs.

Once onboard, the sleek, ADA-accessible trains offer bathrooms with futuristic bells and whistles, and comfy seating with trays that fold down, along with spacious seating around tables. Thirsty? Hungry? Want to celebrate the occasion with bubbly? Attendants roam the aisles offering drinks and snacks for sale (or for free if you’ve upgraded).

For commuters, time on the train provides the chance to catch up on work thanks to USB outlets at every seat and free high-speed WIFI. If you’re using the trains for a ride to your vacation/staycation, you can carry on two bags for free, and additional bags can be checked for $5. Bikes can even be stored onboard, too. Pet lovers can bring their dogs on the Brightline or check them in an approved crate for an extra fee.

Adrienne Arsht Center
Adrienne Arsht Center

Where You Can Go

Hopping on a train allows you to squeeze in as many adventures as you can throughout three counties. At MiamiCentral, located at 600 NW First Avenue in Downtown Miami, you can devour a range of cuisine at the food hall, Central Fare, with purveyors like La Estación American Brasserie, World Famous House of Mac, Bucks Crepes, Rosetta Bakery, Cao Bakery, with more restaurants and a wine bar to come. You can access Miami’s Metrorail and the free Metromover from the station, making it an all-around Miami transportation hub. The location is prime, putting travelers a quick taxi, rideshare or bike ride to the shopping of Brickell City Centre, or arts and cultural venues like Perez Art Museum Miami, Frost Science, AmericanAirlines Arena, the Adrienne Arsht Center and PortMiami. You’re also within close range to neighboring Little Havana and Wynwood.

The ride from Miami to the Fort Lauderdale train station, located at 101 NW Second Avenue, is a quick 30-minutes. The drive north to Fort Lauderdale is usually an hour or more, depending on traffic, so you’re saving major time. Arriving in Downtown, you’re close to cultural attractions like NSU Art Museum, Museum of Discovery and Science, Broward Center for the Performing Arts and the burgeoning FATVillage Arts District. The shops and restaurants of bustling Las Olas Boulevard and the stunning Riverwalk are also a five-minute drive away, and the train station is located a few miles west of the beaches.

The ride to the West Palm Beach station from Miami is the biggest time-saver, cutting the almost two-hour drive to a 65-minute train ride. The Brightline station is located at 501 Evernia Street, just a block south of lively Clematis Street and a few blocks north of the evolving Rosemary Square shopping center; and it’s a quick ride away from the upscale shopping of The Royal Poinciana Plaza and ritzy Worth Avenue on the island of Palm Beach. Art lovers will want to make a stop at nearby Norton Museum which just underwent a huge revamp, or head to the beach.

If you’re really adventurous, you could hit all three counties in one day. After all, you’re not doing the driving. Sit back, relax and enjoy the ride.

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