This High-speed Train Connects Miami and West Palm Beach for the Perfect Florida Vacation

The Brightline is changing the way travelers explore South Florida.

Brightline, a speed train, in South Florida
Photo: Courtesy of Brightline

Miami locals will be the first to tell you that driving around the city can be stressful, let alone crossing county lines to visit other popular South Florida spots like Fort Lauderdale and West Palm Beach.

Enter Brightline, with its eco-friendly, door-to-door, high-speed train.

The Brightline rail system first launched in 2018, with service between West Palm Beach and Fort Lauderdale before extending south to Miami, giving both residents and visitors a faster, car-free alternative for exploring all three South Florida hot spots.

The Brightline Experience

Walking into a Brightline station for the first time, it becomes immediately apparent that this rail experience is unlike any other currently available in the U.S. The facilities are spacious, modern, flooded with natural light, and accented by splashes of Brightline's signature yellow branding. A fresh, citrusy scent even fills the air — something you'll notice throughout all of the stations.

The Brightline offers two types of tickets: Smart and Premium. After going through a brief security screening, passengers can scan their tickets using a QR code on their phone, then proceed to the well-equipped waiting area prior to boarding their train. Floor-to-ceiling windows line the walls of the lounge, complete with comfy seats and tables featuring outlets for easy access to charging devices. The flagship Miami station also features the Citizens MiamiCentral culinary market, which has 16 dining concepts that include burger joints, uniquely flavored cookies, and more. The food hall will soon close to undergo extensive updates, but in the meantime, the MiamiCentral Station will appease the appetites of Brightline riders with a variety of food trucks.

For pre- or post-trip cocktails, each Brightline station has a full bar, playfully named Mary Mary as an homage to the wife of Henry Flagler, South Florida's original railroad mogul from the late 1800s.

Brightline, a speed train, in South Florida
Courtesy of Brightline

Passengers with a Premium Brightline ticket can skip the bar and head straight to their exclusive lounge, where they'll find a variety of light bites, coffee, soft drinks, and beer and wine on tap. On board, a Premium ticket also means being treated to a refreshing wet towel, as well as more snacks and drinks for the ride.

Though Smart ticket holders don't have access to these additional perks, both classes offer the opportunity to sit back and relax in the wide, ergonomically friendly seats with more than enough legroom.

Moving Beyond the Stations

Each segment of this South Florida train trip takes 30 to 40 minutes, with the full Miami to West Palm Beach route lasting one hour and 12 minutes. Once at your destination, the centrally located stations serve as the perfect starting point for exploring.

In Miami, passengers disembark downtown, with nearby access to the Metromover, a free local train service connecting all of downtown and the lively Brickell neighborhood. Meanwhile, the Fort Lauderdale station is less than two miles from several hubs for dining, nightlife, and culture, including the Riverwalk, Las Olas Boulevard, and the artsy Flagler Village. Passengers headed to West Palm Beach are also dropped in the middle of all the action at Clematis Street — a popular hangout with art installations, bars, and restaurants — all practically visible from the Brightline platform.

Brightline, a speed train, in South Florida
Courtesy of Brightline

To make sure passengers can truly enjoy a door-to-door, car-free experience, the rail company has a recently expanded Brightline+ program. As part of this offering, guests can book a complimentary (for now) car service to bring them to/from any station as long as their destination is within a five-mile radius. And since Brightline is all about eco-friendliness, the company's exclusive vehicles just so happen to be Teslas. For commonly requested destinations like the beach, airport, or cruise terminal, the Brightline+ program also has fixed route and local EV shuttles so passengers can carpool.

Unique to the Brightline+ offerings in West Palm Beach is the BrightBike program. Passengers can rent a two-wheeler — painted yellow like the trains — to explore more of this bike-friendly city. BrightBikes are also currently complimentary with a reservation (required in advance).

Looking to the Future

Whether passengers are riding the rails to get to work, enjoy a day trip, or simply venture beyond one city in South Florida, Brightline is making it easier for them to ditch their cars. With plans for two additional South Florida stops in Aventura and Boca Raton, followed by service to Orlando by the end of 2022 (with service beginning in 2023) and eventually an expansion to Tampa, it's fair to say the Brightline is on its way to transforming the way locals and visitors explore the Sunshine State.

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