Probably the two most famous cities in Florida, Orlando and Miami couldn’t be more different. Known for its theme parks, you could spend a full week in Orlando and never see or do the same thing twice. Whether you drink around the world at Epcot or ride It’s A Small World at the Magic Kingdom, prepare to be wowed and to embrace that childlike sense of wonder. Miami, on the other hand, is famous for the all-night party lifestyle, Latin music and Caribbean dishes, and its overall adult playground atmosphere. You can explore both great cities in one trip and will head home with two very distinctive perspectives on what Florida has to offer.
How to Get From Orlando to Miami
- Train: 6 hours, 2 minutes; from $51
- Flight: 1 hours, 3 minutes; from $62
- Bus: 5 hours, 7 minutes; from $20 (budget-friendly)
- Car: 3 hours, 52 minutes; 233 miles (375 kilometers)
Start at the Orlando Amtrak Station and board the Silver Meteor or the Silver Star toward West Palm Beach (WPB). Disembark at the WPB Amtrak Station, where you’ll take a six-minute bus to the Brightline Station. Here, you’ll board an hour and 13 minute train that departs from the station hourly and arrives in Downtown Miami. (Grab a cocktail or a few—they’re complimentary when you purchase a Select ticket.) Sit back, relax, and get ready to arrive in Miami. If you want a break or some sightseeing before arriving in Miami, take a later Brightline train out of WPB (check the schedule online). There are quite a few bars and restaurants, including the Blind Monk and the RH Rooftop Restaurant at Restoration Hardware, within walking distance or a quick Uber or Lyft ride from the Brightline Station.
A bus from Orlando to Miami is one of the longer alternatives, at about 5 hours. Departing from Orlando hourly, the bus will take you straight to the Miami International Airport Station Southbound. Once you arrive there, plan to call a taxi, Uber, or Lyft to your hotel or final destination. You can also hop on the Metro south toward Dadeland Station or north toward Brickell and Downtown Miami.
Flying is the fastest, easiest, and priciest option, though not by much—a flight from Orlando International Airport to Miami International Airport is just $10 more than a train ride at its most affordable and will get you to your final destination in the least amount of time.
Orlando to Miami should be a straight shot, and you have a few route options to choose from. Fill up on gas (you should only need to get gas once along the way) and make it to the Magic City in less than four hours. If you choose to take the Florida Turnpike route, beware of pesky toll fees. This is the fastest route, but it’s not free. I-95 South is another option, as is US-441 South. If you’re not in a hurry, take the scenic route and stop at Kennedy Space Center. You could also stop for lunch and a bit of sunshine in Fort Lauderdale. If you do travel via the Turnpike, the American Orchid Society is not far off your route and worth a quick visit.
What to See in Miami
Miami truly has it all. From Miami Beach to Little Havana and the Everglades or Brickell, the city’s financial district, a Miami experience can be whatever you want it to be. Immerse yourself in the Cuban culture at Calle Ocho, where you’ll find amazing Cuban food. Stop for a breath here and watch locals compete in dominoes tournaments at the park.
You can also grab a drink in Little Havana at places like Cubaocho (a rum bar with live music, a fantastic selection of Cuban art, and sometimes dance lessons), Hoy Como Ayer or Ball & Chain. Make sure to wear your dancing shoes because you won’t stay seated for long. Ball & Chain hosts karaoke nights once a week and if you sign up, you can step inside their pineapple-shaped stage and channel your inner Shakira for a song or two.
Or spend some time in Wynwood. One of the biggest street art and graffiti scenes in the world, this neighborhood is not only a feast for the eyes, but for the palate as well. Have some dessert at the Salty Donut or ice cream at Dasher & Crank. A caffeine kick by way of Panther Coffee may be necessary if you plan to spend the entire day out walking around. A neighborhood that had nothing to offer just a decade or so ago is now filled with life and, some might argue, the Brooklyn of the Southeast.
Catch a Miami Heat game, a Marlins game, or a Panthers game. The Miami Heat is a championship-winning team that has been home for players like Dwyane Wade and Lebron James in the past. In the same downtown neighborhood as American Airlines Arena, where the Heat play, you’ll find great museums like the Miami Children’s Museum, Vizcaya, the Frost Science Museum, and the Perez Art Museum Miami, known to locals as just the PAMM. Be sure to check the PAMM’s website for local programming; the museum is known to stay open late on some days, as well as host live music and art shows, concerts, and culinary events.
Spend a day at Zoo Miami, one of the first cage-free and free-range zoos in the country. Previously known as Miami Metro Zoo, this wilderness area is home to monkeys, lions, tigers, sea creatures, and animals native to South Florida. The education program here is spectacular and a visit is highly recommended, especially if you’re with little ones who are fascinated by animals and nature. Head south to the Redlands and venture out to Robert Is Here, a fruit stand and farm where you can grab a creamy fruit milkshake, say hello to and feed emus, chickens, goats, and sheep, and purchase the freshest local fruit to take home with you. During season (usually November to May), swing by Knaus Berry Farm, but try to do this early in the morning since lines for fresh-baked cinnamon rolls tend to snake through the parking area as it gets later in the day.