Take The Train From Orlando And Avoid The Summer Airport Crowds

The age of train travel in America seems to have faded out in comparison to the polished, en vogue fast trains in Europe and Japan. Train travel went the way of the dodo when Americans wanted to get to their destinations faster and cheaper, and until recently with Brightline’s new faster service to Miami, we really haven’t seen high speed train travel as an option here in Florida. And yet, taking the train from Orlando to travel with kids, is a great family vacation idea.

We’re sharing three ways to travel from Orlando by train as well as helpful tips on the two different train stations in Orlando.

Traveling by Train in Orlando

Amtrak has three amazing routes to choose from, all possible from right here at the historic Orlando Station. 

A once whimsical way to cross the nation, train travel offers passengers a chance to slow down. With dining cars for midnight snacks or romantic meet-cutes, comfortable seating where it’s ok to get up and roam the aisles during travel, and beautiful passing scenery, this classic form of travel is starting to see a revival in the States.

Amtrak still rules the rails nationwide, so there’s no need to research different airlines, do cost comparisons or try to calculate how many loyalty program points the family has earned. With just one search to Amtrak’s website, travelers can get all the information they need to book tickets for their next trip.

Avoid the angry mobs of summer travelers at the airports and take to the railways for the next great American adventure with your family.

Amtrak Routes From Orlando

Three routes depart from the Orlando area including the Auto Train from Sanford and the Silver Meteor and Silver Star routes direct from Orlando station.

Visit places up and down the east coast including Washington DC, Savannah, New York, Charleston, Philadelphia, and more.

Note that most routes will require overnight travel due to the length of the trip.

Let’s review options for these Amtrak trips:

  • Auto Train from Sanford
  • Silver Meteor Route from Orlando to Miami to New York (with stops in between)
  • Silver Star Route from Orlando, Tampa, Lakeland, and Okeechobee to New York (with stops in between)
Orlando Train Station Check in Area
Orlando Train Station Check in Area Maria DiCicco

Auto Train From Orlando/ Sanford

Travel Time: 17 hours + vehicle loading time
Where Does It Go: This route ONLY travels between Sanford and Lorton, Virginia.

The most direct of the three routes, this interesting overnight train is a trip in itself. With a cafe and dining car and multiple options for sleeping, consider this train for a unique getaway from Orlando. 

It beats the holiday traffic and nightmare of gridlocked highways, and at the end of the journey no rental car is needed!

Note that the Auto Train departs from Sanford Station.

Things To Know

  • There is one northbound and one southbound train a day
  • Departures are always in the evening, arriving the next morning
  • Only passengers traveling with a vehicle can board this train
  • There’s WiFi on board for streaming movies or working late

Auto-Train from Sanford Average Trip Cost 

Coach Seats

The most economical way to ride, coach seats average $100-200 for a one-way ride. If you don’t mind sleeping upright, this isn’t a bad option. The seats are larger than on airplanes and are always in a 2 by 2 format, meaning there is no one sitting in a middle seat to disturb you.

Meals can be purchased in the cafe or brought on board.

Roomettes

A cozier option, roomettes offer included meals and coffee for a maximum of two people. There is no toilet or shower. These rooms range from $500-700.

Both the bedrooms and the roomettes are part of the “Superliner” class, which is a two-level train car.

Bedrooms

At a steep $1000 for two people max, the bedrooms do offer en suite facilities including a shower and all onboard meals and coffee. All things considered, this is equivalent to two adult airfares, a one-night hotel stay and dinner and breakfast costs. 

Families seeking room and board must purchase two connecting bedrooms.

Other Fees

Be aware that there are also fees for transporting your vehicle, around $150-300 per vehicle.

Note: if the Auto Train is for you, be sure to review the vehicle requirements and other FAQ’s well before your journey.

Silver Meteor Route to South Florida and more

The Silver Meteor and Silver Star routes travel between Miami and New York in 28 hours. With many stops along the way, options for vacations are plentiful.
Where Does It Go: For a complete list of stations, visit Amtrak’s Silver Meteor Train page.

Things To Know

  • This route has WiFi
  • Coach seats are not assigned
  • This route is faster for traveling to South Florida destinations
  • Orlando to Miami takes just under 6 hours and averages about $40 each way
Orlando Train Station Entrance
Orlando Train Station Entrance Maria DiCicco

Silver Meteor Average Trip Cost 

Sleeper Options

The viewliner class of sleeper options is a one-level train car (in comparison to the Superliner on the Auto Train). Choices include:

  • Viewliner Roomette
  • Viewliner Bedroom
  • Viewliner Bedroom Suite
  • Viewliner Accessible Bedroom

Example fare from Orlando to Savannah in June starts at $262 for a room and takes about 6 hours.

Example fare from Orlando to New York’s Penn Station in July starts at $852 for a room and takes about 22 hours.

Coach Seats

Coach seats start from $55 for an example fare from Orlando to Savannah in June. The route takes 6 hours.

Example fare from Orlando to New York’s Penn Station in July starts at $154.

Silver Star Route

The Silver Star is the only of the three routes listed that goes to Tampa, Lakeland and Okeechobee. It makes all the same stops as the Silver Meteor with these three exceptions. It costs a little less than Silver Meteor because of the additional Florida stops.

Where Does It Go: For a complete list of stations, visit Amtrak’s Silver Star Train page.

Things To Know

  • This route has WiFi
  • Coach seats are not assigned
  • Orlando to Miami averages about 8 hours and costs about $40 each way
Orlando Train Station Platform
Orlando Train Station Platform Maria DiCicco

Average Trip Cost for Silver Star

Sleeper Options

The Silver Star offers the same viewliner class of sleeper options as the Silver Meteor.

Example fare from Orlando to Savannah in June starts at $376 for a room.

Example fare from Orlando to New York’s Penn Station in July starts at $754 for a room and takes about 24 hours.

Coach Seats

Coach seats start from $72 for an example fare from Orlando to Savannah in June. The route takes 6 hours.

Example fare from Orlando to New York’s Penn Station in July starts at $154.

About Orlando Station

Located at 1400 Sligh Boulevard, Orlando, FL 32806-3905 just north of the SODO shopping center and the Orlando Health hospital complex.

Hours: 10am-8pm every day

Orlando Station, built in 1926, was built in the historic Mission Revival style found in many homes across Central Florida. With plenty of old school charm, this station has whispers of the past echoing through its walls.

Orlando Train Station Waiting Area
Orlando Train Station Waiting Area Maria DiCicco

Routes Serviced 

  • Silver Meteor
  • Silver Star
  • SunRail

Transportation Information

  • Parking is free (daily or overnight), but limited.
  • Arrive by SunRail from any of the SunRail stations (Monday-Friday only)
  • Ridesharing (Uber or Lyft) is a recommended method of arrival/departure
Orlando Train Station Parking Lot
Orlando Train Station Parking Lot Maria DiCicco

Things To Know

  • Check-in times:
    • If checking bags or needing assistance: arrive 60 minutes before your departure time
    • If you don’t have bags or need assistance: arrive 30 minutes before your departure time
  • Bag storage is available as needed
  • It is a 5 minute walk to a Subway sandwich shop, should you need to purchase food for on-board, or there is a hot dog cart by the tracks and vending machines inside.

For more information visit Amtrak’s website.

About Sanford Auto Train Station

Located at 600 South Persimmon Avenue Sanford, FL 32771-2385

Hours: 9am-5pm every day

Routes Serviced 

  • Auto Train

Transportation Information

  • Station parking is not available
  • SunRail does NOT travel to this station, although they have similar station names
  • Travelers boarding without a vehicle are not permitted to ride the Auto Train.
  • It is advised to simply drive your car to the auto train station at the check-in time. 

Things To Know

  • Check-in times:
    • Arrive more than 2 hours before departure
  • There is a cafe at the station waiting room

Additional Amtrak Secrets And Tips

  • Their online kids activity center offers coloring pages, word searches, games, and even videos in both English and Spanish for little train engineers. These are great on board with their WiFi or in advance of the trip to get hyped up.
  • Booking earlier gets you better fare prices
  • Discounts are available. Seniors, military and students automatically save 10-15% and kids are 50% off!
  • Subscribe to their email list and get additional discounts
  • Long haul routes can be delayed, typically due to yielding for freight trains. Time-sensitive travel is not advised.
  • Are you a fan of flight tracking? Track your train on their website!
  • Look for the “red cap” assistants to help you board with your luggage (tipping is appreciated and common)
  • You can bring your own cooler full of food and snacks on board (this counts as a carry on)
  • You can bring and consume your own alcohol if you have a bedroom or roomette
  • Pets are allowed on the Silver Star and Silver Meteor routes
  • Bag limits are pretty relaxed compared to airlines. Read more about them here.
Orlando Train Station Platform
Orlando Train Station Platform Maria DiCicco 2

In a day in age when travelers want to get there faster, cheaper and more directly than those travelers of yesteryear, it is understandable that air travel makes more sense

However, if you have time, enjoy the journey, and have a bit of adventurous (and patient) spirit, then train travel may be just the ticket for your family this summer and beyond. 

Skip the lengthy security lines, the fights over elbow room and personal space, and relax aboard America’s OG train line – the Amtrak

author avatar
Maria DiCicco
Globetrotting since 1995, Maria is a daughter, girl-mom and wife to a Spaniard. She is a karaoke wunderkind, natural born storyteller and creative writer. She’s a wine and gin enthusiast and charcuterie builder extraordinaire. Seeking to inspire others to “Travel More”, she shares travel advice, destination spotlights and more at her site AlwaysPackTissues.com.