A train trip from Indiana to Florida is doable, but not easy or short. In previous decades, the South Wind (1940-1971) and Floridan (1971-1979) passenger trains provided direct service, but today you must ride more than one Amtrak train to get to the Sunshine State.
Note that if you are willing to rent a car or transfer to a Greyhound bus, you can travel from any Indiana Amtrak Station to Chicago and transfer to the City of New Orleans train to reach New Orleans. From there, drive time to the Florida state line is about 3 hours.
Otherwise for train-only travel to Florida, you’ll have to go to Alexandria, Virginia or Washington D.C. and transfer to a Silver Meteor or Silver Star Amtrak train. Here are the best options based on departure location.
Eastbound Cardinal trains stop in Indianapolis on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday, then travel through the beautiful New River Gorge to the East Coast. Departure time isn’t ideal; the train leaves Indianapolis around midnight. Alexandria, Virginia is the first station where you can transfer to a Florida train, which is 18 hours away. Arrival time is around 6 p.m. if no delays.
From Alexandria, you can book a trip to Florida via the Silver Meteor, which departs from Alexandria around 7:45 p.m. It’s important to know that the Silver Meteor does not travel to Tampa. To connect with the train that does (the Silver Star), you’ll need to stay overnight in Alexandria or Washington D.C. and board the train the next day. For a more adventurous option if you are eager to reach Florida, board the Silver Meteor and travel to Winter Park or Orlando and stay overnight there instead. In the morning you can board the Silver Star to Tampa.
You can also book your tickets from Indianapolis to Washington D.C. if you’d rather transfer trains there, but the layover is reduced to only one hour, which is somewhat risky as you might miss the connection if the Cardinal is running late. Washington D.C. Union Station has a food court, so you can get something to eat before transferring trains as a perk.
From Alexandria, Jacksonville is about 13.5 hours away on the Silver Meteor train, and all other cities in Florida will have a longer trip time.
Also on the Cardinal route, the Connersville Amtrak Station is near New Castle, Rushville and Richmond, Indiana. Additionally, you can drive from Muncie to Connersville in about one hour. From Anderson, the drive time is about 1 hour and 15 minutes. There is overnight parking here, but it is limited, so you may want to get dropped off at the station.
The train stops in Connersville after 1 a.m. on Wednesday, Friday and Sunday, and you’ll follow the same instructions as above, with travel to Alexandria, Virginia or Washington D.C., then transfer to the Silver Meteor or Silver Star.
Crawfordsville and Lafayette have Amtrak stations on the Cardinal, with eastbound departure times around 10 p.m. Travel time to Alexandria, Virginia is about 20 hours.
From West-Central Indiana, you can also drive to Champaign-Urbana in Illinois to board the City of New Orleans train for a 16-hour trip to New Orleans. This option works well if you are willing to rent a car in New Orleans and drive to Florida from there.
Overnight parking is an option at the Champaign-Urbana Amtrak Station. Drive time from Lafayette is about 1.5 hours and from Crawfordsville about 1 hour and 15 minutes.
If you are traveling from Northwest Indiana, you can get on the Cardinal in Rensselaer and Dyer. Since these cities are within two hours of Chicago via train, you have the option to travel to Chicago for a connection to Washington D.C. This trip makes sense if you want a few hours in Chicago to eat, shop or sightsee. There is a long layover, with an arrival in the Windy City around 10 a.m. and departure on the Capitol Limited at 6:30 p.m.
Travel time to the DC Union Station on the Capitol Limited is about 23.5 hours, and you’ll be able to easily transfer to the Silver Meteor or Silver Star train. If you opt to travel on the Cardinal to Alexandria instead of Chicago, travel times is about 22 hours.
The Capitol Limited Amtrak route stops in Elkhart and Waterloo, Indiana. Nearby cities include South Bend, Fort Wayne and Goshen. This train travels to Washington D.C. daily in about 15 hours. Arrival time in the capital is around 1 p.m. if no delays. Based on your final destination, you can then either board the 3 p.m. Silver Star or the 7:30 p.m. Silver Meteor to Florida.
If you live in Muncie or Anderson, you can also drive about 1 hour and 40 minutes to reach the Waterloo Station. Overnight parking is available.
If you live in Southeast Indiana, including near Madison, consider connecting with Amtrak’s Cardinal route in Cincinnati, Ohio. Drive time between these two cities is about 1 hour and 20 minutes. The downside is that you’ll need to be at the station by 3 a.m. for the 3:30 a.m. departure. Overnight parking is available at the Cincinnati Union Terminal. Ride the train to Alexandria (14.5 hours) or Washington D.C. (15 hours). From either of those cities, you can transfer to the Silver Meteor to reach Florida.
The easiest option to reach Florida from Southwest Indiana is to drive two hours to the Carbondale, IL Amtrak Station. Board the City of New Orleans train in Carbondale and travel to New Orleans (13.5 hours) and rent a car or transfer to a Greyhound bus to Pensacola or Panama City. Otherwise, the Indianapolis Amtrak Station is a three-hour drive away from Evansville for access to the Cardinal train.