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The 9 Must-Do Activities on the Amtrak Sunset Limited From New Orleans to Los Angeles!

The Sunset Limited is one of the most popular Amtrak routes for exploring the American south. 

New Orleans skyline during sunset.
Photo by David Chuan-En Lin on Unsplash / New Orleans skyline during sunset.

The Amtrak Sunset Limited is an epic train ride that departs from New Orleans every evening and travels up to Los Angeles, stopping at several cities in between. 

The Sunset Limited is Amtrak’s only train that travels the southern-most route and New Orleans. 

The 61-hour journey covers a distance of 2,278 miles and includes stops in ten different cities. 

The main are Houston, San Antonio, and Palm Springs.

The views along the way are spectacular – especially when you sit on the left side of the train! 

The three-and-a-half-day roundtrip journey is filled with wondrous sites and landmarks. 

The right side looks out onto a dingy industrial area filled with warehouses and factories.

But if you sit on the other side, you’ll see lush green forests, bustling city centers, and vibrant red sunsets over Tampa Bay. 

This train offers passengers a taste of southern culture along with its stunning views. 

If you go on this trip during peak tourist season (September through April), you will meet tons of other visitors who have come to explore south Florida. 

If you go off-peak, however, you might be one of only a handful of passengers on board. 

You can book your ticket ahead of time or get on standby, but either way, the train fills up quickly. 

So what should you do if you don’t get a seat?

Well, it’s all about making the most of your time. 

But what should you do when you have limited time? 

If you’re like us, you want to see as much of this beautiful country as possible. 

That’s why we’ve listed the top eight activities that you must do if you take the Amtrak Sunset Limited.

Whether it’s busy or not, here are some activities that you should definitely try while traveling on the Sunset Limited:

1- Travel from New York to Miami in One Day

If you’re traveling on the full-service Sunset Limited route, you can easily travel the entire distance between New York and Miami in one day. 

In fact, many people do so, especially if they are in a hurry to get to their final destination. 

On the other hand, if you have time for a leisurely journey and want to experience each stop along the way, you can easily break up the trip by staying overnight at one of the train’s partners’ hotels. 

If you’re traveling on the basic route, you can travel from New York to 

Miami in one day, but you will have to get up very early to catch the train. 

The basic route departs New York at 6 am and reaches Miami at 8:30 pm. 

It’s not recommended to travel on the basic route alone, especially if you’re a woman.

2- Sunset at Camping Island Marine Sanctuary

If you catch the Sunset Limited on a weekday, you can visit the Camping Island Marine Sanctuary in Key Largo. 

This sanctuary is known for its vibrant coral reefs teeming with marine life. 

It’s also known for its amazing sunsets, which you can enjoy from the sanctuary’s observation deck. 

Camping Island is a small, rural island where you are just as likely to see fishermen landing their catch as you are to see scuba divers in their aquatic habitat. 

If you’re traveling on a weekend, skip the observation deck and visit the nearby Ocean Reef Club instead. 

Ocean Reef was once a private club owned by the Rockefeller family and is now a wildlife sanctuary open to the public.

3- Stopover in Tampa

If you’re traveling on a weekday, you can stop over in Tampa and enjoy the vibrant nightlife. 

The city is known as the “Tampa Bay Area” and is famous for its Cuban, Creole, and Spanish cuisines. 

You can also visit the spectacular Tampa Museum of Art, which shows off the works of renowned American artists. 

If you’re traveling on a weekend, you can visit the Tampa Museum of Science and Industry. 

This museum has over 400 interactive exhibits and is a great way to keep kids engaged and entertained.

4- Dinner in Orlando

If you’re traveling on a weekday, you can stop over in Orlando and visit the Orlando Science Center. 

This museum has tons of interactive exhibits and attracts both kids and adults alike. 

If you’re traveling on a weekend, you can visit the Orlando Museum of Art, which shows off the works of renowned American artists. 

You can also visit the Orlando Philharmonic, which is known for its stellar live performances.

5- Wander around the train and spot wildlife

If you’re traveling on a weekday, you can wander around the train and keep a lookout for wildlife. 

The train travels through several diverse ecosystems, including lush forests, marshes, and swamps. 

Keep an eye out for alligators, water birds, and even panthers and black bears! 

If you’re traveling on a weekend, visit the Vizcaya Museum and Gardens, which is known for its beautiful gardens and architectural gems. 

You can also visit the Coral Gables Museum, which is known for its stunning architecture and impressive art collection.

6- Take a walk along the St. Thomas River

If you’re traveling on a weekday, take a walk along the St. Thomas River. 

Several trails lead to this scenic river. 

You can also visit St. John’s River State Park, which is just a short walk from the train. 

This park has a small nature center, a boardwalk, and trails that lead to the river. 

If you’re traveling on a weekend, visit the St. Augustine Alligator Farm, which is a conservation center that rehabilitates injured wild animals. 

Later in the day, visit St. Augustine Beach, which is a beautiful beach just a short walk away from the train.

7- Visit an alligator ranch or conservation center

If you’re traveling on a weekday, visit an alligator ranch or one of the many nearby conservation centers. 

The alligator population in Florida is thriving and has become a major tourist attraction. 

Many ranches allow you to feed and interact with these fascinating creatures. 

If you want to learn more about them and their conservation efforts, visit a nearby conservation center. 

If you’re traveling on a weekend, visit Everglades National Park. 

This park is home to many endangered species and has a unique ecosystem that is unlike any other place in the world. 

You can also visit Shark Valley, which is a beautiful nature trail that leads to a remote part of the park.

8- Food Truck Fest and Art Walk in Jacksonville

If you’re traveling on a weekday, visit the Jacksonville Beach Food Truck Fest and Jacksonville Art Walk. 

The Food Truck Fest is an annual event that attracts foodies from all over the country. 

If you’re traveling on a weekend, visit Jacksonville Landing, which has over 100 shops and restaurants. 

You can also visit the Jacksonville Museum of Modern Art, which is one of the oldest and most respected art museums in Florida.

9- Stopover in Ormond Beach and Baedeker’s Restaurant

If you’re traveling on a weekday, visit Ormond Beach and Baedeker’s Restaurant. 

Baedeker’s is an elegant dining experience that overlooks the nearby Atlantic Ocean. 

If you’re traveling on a weekend, visit the Ponce Inlet, which is just a short walk away from the train. 

Ponce Inlet is a scenic beach with clear blue waters.