The future must look a lot like Brightline, the gleaming, luxurious high-speed passenger train system that knits metropolitan South and Central Florida into a single, wildly diverse destination.
Travelers who once endured capricious and often harrowing drives along Interstate 95 or the Florida Turnpike can now make the journey with speedy certainty: the Miami-Fort Lauderdale leg in 35 minutes, and Fort Lauderdale-West Palm in 40. The non-stop Miami-Orlando leg is just as nimble, clocking in at just under three hours; while regular service from Miami-Orlando features stops at all Brightline stations, including West Palm Beach, Boca Raton, Fort Lauderdale and Aventura, with a run time of just three hours and 30 minutes. The
And Brightline, the only privately owned and operated intercity passenger railroad in the nation, does it in style. Passengers are ensconced in wide, reclining leather seats (21 inches in the premium “select” carriages, 19 inches in the less expensive “smart” cars). There’s free WiFi, and USB and electric power outlets at each seat.
Brightline also offers luggage and bicycle storage. And food and beverage services, including wine, beer and liquor with top-shelf labels. Toilets are accessed by waving one’s hand over a small green light near the door, and, swoosh, it opens with a kind of Star Wars flourish.
The trains — pink, red, orange, green or blue carriages pulled by yellow bio-diesel locomotives — run so quietly that passengers assume they’re barely creeping down the rails. Except the Florida scenery rushes by the large carriage windows at a startling pace. The trains seem to glide from one station to the next, with barely time to finish your Simi Chardonnay or Tito’s Vodka between stops.
And you can even bring your best friend: Brightline welcomes dogs and cats. Pets must be leashed or crated at all times when in or around the stations. A pet relief area is available outside the West Palm Beach and Fort Lauderdale stations. Dogs and cats are the only pets that are permitted to travel on Brightline trains.
The stations are all strategically located in rapidly evolving downtowns. The southernmost station is Miami, followed in order to the north by Adventura, Fort Lauderdale, Boca Raton, West Palm Beach and Orlando. Here’s where you can check out Brightline's Florida stations in detail.
Trains between Orlando and West Palm Beach will take approximately two hours. Brightline’s schedule between Central and South Florida includes 16 daily round-trips, with hourly northbound and southbound departures.
Brightline cruises past the graffiti-art of Wynwood, then approaches downtown Miami on elevated tracks, 50 feet above the streets and sidewalks, affording passengers a panoramic view of the city’s spectacular, ultra-modern skyline.
The train pulls into Miami Central Station, which could very well be a destination in itself. The 11-acre mixed-use development along six downtown blocks will include 180,000 square feet of retail and restaurant space along an elevated food hall, including snazzy restaurants like the 800 Degrees Wood-Fired Kitchen, Rosetta Bakery, and World Famous House of Mac.
The lobby features a three-story LED art installation with ever-changing Miami scenes (and the occasional ad). Miami artist Robert McKnight has created two aluminum friezes and three murals that recall the old Overtown neighborhood that has been utterly transformed by Brightline and other new developments.
Miami Central Station includes connections to Miami’s elevated transit systems: Metrorail with a 15-minute connection to Miami International Airport and Metromover, the self-driving fare-free people mover system soaring over downtown streets, with stops at Museum Park, home to Perez Art Museum Miami and the new Frost Museum of Science, the Adrienne Arsht Performing Arts Center, the AmericanAirlines Arena (home to the Miami Heat), Bayfront Park, the Bayside Festival Marketplace, the Miami Riverwalk and the hot, new Brickell shopping and dining district. Zany Wynwood and Miami Beach are both just a short drive away. (The rideshare company Lyft has an access agreement with Brightline at all three stations.)
Just east of Miami Central Station, a once forlorn streetscape of rundown warehouses and rooming houses has become a sprawling construction site for the $2 billion, 27-acre Miami World Center, with hotels, condos, offices, a convention center and a seven-block-long pedestrian-only outdoor open-air, retail, dining and drinking district. Just a block from the lobby entrance to Miami Central Station, a Hilton-branded condo-hotel will occupy a 73-story tower, which will hold the distinction (however briefly, given the mad, skyward competition underway in boomtown Miami) as the tallest building in Florida.
Adventura is best known for its shopping center, the Aventura Mall, the third-largest mall in the United States, and the Brightline Adventura Station is just across the road from it. The mall tempts travelers with Aventura Mall Connectors, complimentary shuttles that take guests to the mall and back. Aventura Mall Connectors depart every 30-minutes from the mall’s Transportation Hub, located in the parking garage outside of the Divieto entrance.
The Fort Lauderdale station, which shares the same architectural aesthetic as its West Palm Beach and Miami counterparts (though Miami Central Station has been designed on a much grander scale), lies a few blocks north of the Broward Center for the Performing Arts and the Museum of Discovery and Science and the Himmarshee Village entertainment district.
The Riverwalk, along the New River, leads pedestrians to the upscale shops and restaurants on Las Olas Boulevard. And Water Taxi stops along the Riverwalk offer connections to waterfront restaurants on the Intracoastal Waterway and docks near the city’s famed beachfront. A 202-room Hilton Hotel, just on the other side of the railroad tracks from the Fort Lauderdale station, promises a comfortable, convenient place to stay.
As one customer quoted in a review about the Boca Raton Station, “The only thing wrong with Brightline is that it wasn’t here all along.” Opened in December of 2022, this station is ideally sited adjacent to the Downtown Library, just steps away from everything in Downtown Boca—including its cultural heart, the Boca Raton Museum of Art, encompassing a creative campus that includes the Museum in Mizner Park and the Art School.
The entire area is dressed for visitors: as part of the Boca Brightline Station opening, the City enhanced NW 1st Avenue with a $3.9 million beautification project, with improvements that include new traffic signals; landscape and irrigation upgrades; new shade trees, lighting, bike racks and benches; and pedestrian friendly features like sidewalks and shared use paths.
You’ll find some of the finest dining in South Florida in Boca- and some of the most indulgent shopping. Mizner Park is home to a famed open-air shopping and dining plaza, and the dazzling Town Center Mall is a must-do for retail therapy.
The West Palm Beach location is a nearly perfect pedestrian destination, barely four blocks south of the bars and shops and restaurants and theaters and art installations of City Place. The Palm Beach Convention Center, the Kravis Center for the Performing Arts and the Norton Museum of Art all are mere blocks beyond.
Just north of the West Palm station, a modern structure of concrete and glass blocks supported by a series of distinctive V-shaped braces, Clematis Street offers a lively strip of food, drink, shopping and entertainment east to a waterfront park and marina. Brightline is finishing its own tower next to the West Palm Station, with 290 apartments perched over 12,500 square feet of retail space.
Brand new and groundbreaking, Brightline Orlando Station is crafted to please the senses and meet the needs of today’s modern travelers. The 37,350 square-foot station is situated in Orlando International Airport’s new 80,000 sq. ft. Train Station adjacent to Terminal C, which offers access to all airport terminals at MCO.
The Train Station connects straight to the airport’s Parking Garage C, which promises over 350 parking spaces marked for Brightline guests. The Train Station provides direct access to the other airport terminals A and B via the airport Terminal Link, an automated people mover, in less than five minutes. Transportation options at the Orlando Station include Brightline’s first and last-mile service, Brightline+, catering to the exclusive requirements of the Orlando visitor.
The guest experience begins at the main entrance, positioned off the airport’s expansive, two-story glass atrium. Once inside the station, passengers can purchase tickets from guest services or one of several self-service kiosks, and check luggage before proceeding through touchless turnstiles into the security screening tunnel.
Once through the security tunnel, guests are welcomed by a generous two-story station space, home to the luxe amenities Brightline is celebrated for, including:
- Mary Mary Bar, delivering hand-crafted cocktails and light bites. The signature sit-down bar is nestled at the far end of the station, presenting an epic, panoramic view of the train platforms. Above the bar, an iconic, split-flap message board provides a nostalgic nod to historic train stations while providing updated train schedules, boarding times, news of the day and other announcements – and it’s complete with sounds similar to the first passenger train stations in America.
- MRKT PLACE, convenient for last-minute gifts, sundries and refreshments.
- Free high-speed Wi-Fi, charging stations at every seat, 87 big screen televisions and a BrightKids children’s play area, located in the SMART lounge.
Passengers will access trains via escalator or elevator to first level platforms, measuring 1,000 feet long with room for a train with up to 10 coaches and two locomotives.
Brightline offers two classes of service, SMART and PREMIUM. Brightline’s PREMIUM service includes complimentary meals, snacks and beverages, a dedicated first class lounge, free checked luggage, priority boarding and a dedicated coach.
The Fast Track of Today Retraces Historic Routes
Brightline is a fast train to the future. But the rail line also recalls Florida’s past. Henry Flagler’s Florida East Coast Railway (Brightline' parent company) was built along the same South Florida right-of-way that Brightline’s sleek trains travel today.
Flagler invented the South Florida tourism industry in 1894 when his passenger service connected points north with West Palm Beach. Two years later, Flagler extended his railroad another 70 miles south to a sleepy backwater called Fort Dallas. Flagler built grand hotels along the way, including the still-glorious Breakers in Palm Beach. And Fort Dallas was renamed Miami.
Flagler’s original railroad virtually made South Florida. Some 120 years later, Brightline is giving it and Central Florida an extravagant makeover.