Looking for train trip ideas from Florida? You can travel directly to cities along the East Coast on three Amtrak routes (Auto Train, Silver Meteor and Silver Star), so there are destinations from Georgia to New York that you can choose from. See the list below to see the best options with good train arrival and departure times to plan your rail adventure.
Note that travel times from Jacksonville, Florida are listed for reference. Add three more hours for trip time from Orlando and five more hours for trip time from Tampa. South Florida travel times vary depending on the route; travel time from Miami to Jacksonville is 8.5 hours on the Silver Meteor and almost 11 hours on the Silver Star.
Explore charming squares, historic buildings, parks and the riverfront in Savannah. The Silver Meteor arrives early evening, and trip time from Jacksonville is just over two hours. The Amtrak station is not in a walkable area, so plan to take a taxi, Lyft or Uber from the station to your final destination. If you choose one of the many hotels or vacation rentals in the Savannah Historic District, you can easily walk to many attractions and restaurants so a rental car isn’t needed. Tybee Island is about a 30-minute drive from downtown Savannah, so you will need to rent a car or use Uber or Lyft to go to the beach.
Charleston, South Carolina
Charleston is also full of Southern charm, along with great beaches, abundant restaurants, and historic sites like Fort Sumpter and the oldest unrestored plantation house in America. The Palmetto Amtrak train will take you there, with an arrival around 9 p.m. (four hours from Jacksonville). Plan to get a taxi, Lyft or Uber ride to your destination or to the nearby airport to rent a car after you arrive. Tip: If you plan your trip in late spring, you can attend the famous Spoleto Festival USA.
Raleigh, North Carolina
North Carolina’s capital, Raleigh, is a family-friendly destination with many things to see and do. The area is filled with parks and formal gardens, including the fifth oldest operating amusement park in the United States (pictured above). You can also explore the many museums and check out the local food scene. You’ll spend a night on the train and arrive in the morning, with a trip time of about 9.5 hours from Jacksonville on the Silver Star. The return train to Florida departs in the evening, so you can technically spent just a day here before getting back on the train for the overnight ride home.
You can also visit Virginia’s capital via an Amtrak trip from Florida. Richmond is 13 hours away from Jacksonville by train, and the Silver Star arrives around noon just north of downtown, so you’ll need to get a taxi, Uber or Lyft to get into the city. There are many outdoor activities (including whitewater rafting), parks, gardens, museums and historic areas to explore. Highlights include the Maymont mansion and gardens, Carytown neighborhood and the White House of the Confederacy. Like Raleigh, you can technically make this a day trip, as the return train departs around 11 p.m., or stay longer to experience more of the area.
Washington D.C. Area
Washington D.C. and the surrounding area is full of free museums, hiking trails, historic landmarks and fantastic food. Both the Silver Meteor and Silver Stars trains stop in D.C., though the Silver Meteor trip time is about 1.5 hours faster since that train travels closer to the East Coast than the Silver Star.
There is a third option if you want to take your car with you. The Auto Train departs from Sanford, Florida and arrives in Lorton, Virginia in the D.C. suburbs. This trip is a great option if you want to hike and explore the nearby natural areas vs. head into the city. Travel time on the Auto Train is 17 hours, and you must be traveling with a vehicle and pay the related fees.
Otherwise, from Jacksonville, the trip to Washington D.C. is 14 hours on the Silver Meteor and 15.5 hours on the Silver Star. If you’re really motivated and short on time, book tickets on the Silver Meteor, which will give you 12 hours in Washington D.C. before the return trip to Florida same day. However, we recommend staying at least one night in the capital as there are so many things to see and do, and if the train to D.C. is running late, that will cut into your sight-seeing time.
A short distance away from Washington D.C., Baltimore is another family-friendly destination with many annual events. The Inner Harbor is the top place to spend time, with restaurants, boat cruises, historic ships and the National Aquarium. Fells Point, one of the oldest neighborhoods in Baltimore, is also worth a visit. There’s a large indoor market, restaurants, boutique shops and occasional festivals.
The Silver Meteor arrives in the morning after a 15-hour trip from Jacksonville, and the Silver Star stops here in late afternoon (17 hours from Jacksonville). Like with Washington D.C., if you arrive in the morning, you can take the evening Silver Meteor train back to Florida same day. Plan to use Uber, Lyft or a taxi to get around.
Eat a cheesesteak, visit the Liberty Bell and Independence Hall, explore the Reading Terminal Market and take a picture with the Rocky statue in Philadelphia. The Amtrak trip is 16 hours from Jacksonville on the Silver Meteor and 18 hours on the Silver Star. The Amtrak station has connections to SEPTA commuter trains and subway lines are also nearby, though Uber, Lyft and taxis are also convenient options for getting around. It is recommended that you stay at least one night in the city.
New York City
New York City is at the end of the Silver Meteor and Silver Star routes, and you’ll get to see the new train hall that opened in January 2021 when you arrive. There’s so much to see and do in the Big Apple, from Times Square and Broadway shows to Central Park, Statue of Liberty, the Empire State Building and the many museums and historic sites. If you plan to see a concert or show, do so on the second day after you arrive just in case there are any train delays. Travel time from Jacksonville is 18 hours on the Silver Meteor and 20 hours on the Silver Star.
Top photo taken in Charleston, SC, credit TimothyJ/Flickr.com