Amtrak’s summer: Trains, fun, and sun in one.

It’s that time again. It’s summer! School is out! The swim wear, the sun tan lotion, the sunglasses, sun shelters, the iced tea, lemonade, and crisp cold beer are out again. When summer rolls around, it’s time to hit the road. Did someone say “road”? Summer time is also “train time”. There are a handful of fun destinations which travelers of all ages can count on Amtrak to take them. Throughout the summer, any Amtrak journey is the ride of a lifetime. Speaking of summer heat, which Amtrak destinations are the “hottest” on the list? Here are the top five Amtrak summer destinations; well worth the round-trip fare.

5) Washington, DC: During the summer, the nation’s capital has it all. The are the world-renowned museums of the Smithsonian Institution, the DC Ducks tour, Washington Nationals baseball, Six Flags America (Largo, MD), and of course-paddle boating on the Tidal Basin all await. The best part of all, Washington, DC’s Metro subway is the most user-friendly subway in the United States. A single one-day SmartTrip fare card is $14.75, valid for twenty-four hours. Washington, DC is served by all routes including Northeast Regional, Acela Express, Carolinian, and Vermonter. Well-recommended hotels include the Capitol Hilton (16th Street NW), Double Tree by Hilton (Colesville Road; Silver Spring, MD), Crystal Gateway and Crystal City Marriott (Jefferson Davis Highway; Arlington, VA), and The Wink (New Hampshire Avenue NW).

4) Williamsburg, VA: There is no city with more history than Williamsburg, VA. Williamsburg is home to aristocratic Colonial Williamsburg, the thrills of Busch Gardens, Water Country USA, and Drink Williamsburg-a craft beer brewery tour for adults at age twenty-one and older. Adults are encouraged to try their taste buds at The Chef’s Kitchen in downtown Williamsburg. Williamsburg is on the Northeast Regional route. Recommended hotels include the Double Tree by Hilton (Kingsmill Road), Springhill Suites by Marriott (Richmond Road), Williamsburg Plantation Resort (Longhill Road), La Quinta by Wyndham (Bypass Road), and Wyndham Garden (Water Country Parkway).

3) Pittsburgh, PA: No city in the United States sports the colors of black and gold more than Pittsburgh. Summer time in Pittsburgh means Pittsburgh Pirates baseball at PNC Park. Additional fun activities include Just Ducky Tours on the Three Rivers, soaking in the unspoiled wilderness and the Super Bowl of Volleyball at White Thorn Lodge (Darlington, PA), and experiencing the brand new Steelers Country at historic Kennywood Park (West Mifflin, PA). Pittsburgh is proudly served by Amtrak’s Pennsylvanian and Capitol Limited. Recommended hotels include the AC Hotel by Marriott (Smallman Street), City Center Marriott (Washington Place), and Pittsburgh Renaissance (6th Street).

2) Miami/Ft. Lauderdale, FL: Who wants a two-for deal? Miami and Ft. Lauderdale serve everlasting thrills for families and couples alike. Amtrak travelers can live it up from Miami Marlins baseball, to catching that long-awaited cruise vacation, to shopping at the Oasis and Dolphin Malls, soaking up sun at famous South Beach, and just baring it all at Haulover Beach in Miami Beach. Miami and Ft. Lauderdale have it all. Both cities are served by the Silver Star and Silver Meteor. Recommended Ft. Lauderdale/Hollywood hotels: Hard Rock Hotel & Casino (Hollywood, FL), La Quinta Inn by Wyndham (North Federal Highway), Ramada by Wyndham (State Road 84/Marina Mile Boulevard), Marriott Ft. Lauderdale North (North Andrews Avenue); Recommended Miami hotels: J.W. Marriott Marquis (Biscayne Boulevard), Hilton Miami Airport-Blue Lagoon (Blue Lagoon Drive), and Hilton Miami Downtown (Biscayne Boulevard).

1) Kissimmee, FL (above): This is the city for all Disney and Universal fans. Who needs to deal with airport security and being trapped on an airplane with screaming and crying little ones! Who needs airplane cabin pressure! There is no pressure at all when traveling to Kissimmee by train. Kissimmee is a quick twenty minute drive from the Walt Disney World Resort and Universal Orlando Resort. Kissimmee is home to the naturally tranquil Cypress Cove Resort. Gatorland is just fifteen minutes north of Kissimmee. The Gaylord Palms Resort & Convention Center (W. Osceola Parkway) is thirty minutes from Kissimmee Station, just moments away from the Walt Disney World Resort. Kissimmee Station is a fully staffed, served by the Silver Star and Silver Meteor. The station offers both baggage check and baggage assistance.

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