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By: Angela Caraway-Carlton

Let’s face it: Sitting in traffic is never fun, especially on vacation, so why not let someone else do all the work. Since the higher-speed train service known as the Brightline embarked on its first ride in 2018, it’s been a game-changer for South Florida residents and visitors. The inner-city trains, which reach top speeds of 79 miles per hour, connect to Miami, Fort Lauderdale and West Palm Beach with future plans to expand to Orlando and Tampa. Now, getting to a prime destination is as easy as strolling, or rolling your bag, onto a train — fighting traffic not included. With around 34 departures Monday through Friday, 20 departures on Saturday and 18 departures on Sunday, you can easily book a ride on their website, or download the app on your phone. (The app is always a good idea so you can make changes to your schedule, or check arrival/departures times). Keep an eye out for a few changes — the train service now has a strategic partnership with Virgin Group owned by Richard Branson, and at the end of 2019, the trains will rebrand to Virgin Trains.

The Experience

The Brightline experience starts at the station, where you can peruse shops to buy snacks, beverages, or something you may have forgotten. Riders can also upgrade their ticket for access to the lounge fitted with a spread of food and drinks. Once onboard, you’re in for a clean and luxurious experience where you can just sit back and relax. 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, the train not only eases the anxiety of fighting traffic and finding parking, but the time on the train offers the chance to get work done thanks to USB outlets at every seat and free high-speed WI-FI. 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. Quick tip: You’ll want to arrive at least 30 minutes before your departure to get through the quick bag security check, and boarding begins ten minutes before departure.

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, 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 also 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.

Where You Can Go

Hopping on a train allows you to squeeze in as many adventures as you can in three counties. At MiamiCentral, located at 600 NW First Avenue in Downtown Miami, you can find your favorite cuisine at the food hall, Central Fare, with purveyors like Bucks Crepes, Bio Bio Gelato, Rosetta Bakery, Parliament Espresso & Coffee Bar, with more restaurants 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 the one doing the driving. Sit back, relax and enjoy the ride.

Read More:

Things to Do in Downtown Miami and Brickell
Traveling To Miami With Your Pet
Best Things to Do in Little Havana
Awesome Things To Do in Wynwood

Explore Miami Transportation

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