Rediscover Orlando: Take The SunRail

SunRail is more than a commuter train, so hop on board for a tour of Central Florida.
Rediscoverorl23 Sunrail

Photo by Roberto Gonzalez

If you rode into work today on SunRail, you’re one of about 3,800 daily users of the regional commuter line. You know it as a convenient, inexpensive and low-stress way to get to your job.

With a 16-station system that operates through parts of Volusia, Seminole, Orange and Osceola counties, the possibilities are numerous and varied for a day out and about. From shopping and dining to exploring museums and hiking and biking in nature, SunRail offers an invitation to discover the best of Central Florida.


My daughter Cassidy and I decided to take a day exploring the area using only SunRail and found it to be fun and worthwhile, with a couple of caveats (SunRail doesn’t operate on weekends or major holidays).

The 49-mile rail runs every 30 minutes during the morning and evening rush times and every 60 to 90 minutes during the slower midday. So timing is important if you intend to visit several stops. Download the SunRail Mobile App or go to for a handy schedule calculator. 

If you are simply longing for a train ride to enjoy the city sights and scenery that slip past the windows, consider a round-trip ticket from one end of the line to the other at $9.50 for regular adult fare.

A word of caution for those considering a day at the area’s many first-rate museums: Most are closed on Monday.

We chose three stations with an abundance of activities within walking distance: Winter Park/Amtrak, AdventHealth and Church Street.

While all stations have destinations worth visiting, some require a connection through Lynx, Votran, rideshares or taxis to get to attractions and city centers. All fine options, and your SunRail ticket is good for a transfer to the bus system. 

Cassidy and I drove to the DeBary Station in Volusia County, parked and waited until after the morning rush. We purchased Limited Use Tickets for one-way service to each station. These and round-trip tickets are available only at the stations, are good only on the day of purchase and are nonrefundable. Each station has multiple ticket vending machines that accept U.S. debit and credit cards and one TVM that also accepts U.S. paper currency. SunRail offers a 50-percent fare discount to seniors 65 and over, youths between the ages of 7 and 18 years and customers with disabilities. 


So we bought our tickets for the 11:30 a.m. train and settled in for the 36-minute ride to Winter Park. It’s a quick walk from Winter Park’s quaint-looking station through Central Park and onto Park Avenue, not that we were in a hurry.

We could see our lunch spot, Cocina 214, but we weren’t quite ready and chose to walk north and admire the boutiques and cafés. We went into Shops on Park, a courtyard mall with — a little tip for those not planning to spend time at a restaurant — public restrooms. We window shopped a bit and then headed for Cocina 214, a beautiful, spacious, contemporary Mexican and Tex-Mex kitchen. Many diners opted for the alfresco seating though we chose to sit inside. 

Our server’s genuinely happy vibe rubbed off on us, and Cassidy and I enjoyed every moment of lunch. Speaking of which, and because we were being explorers on this trip, we did a bit of sampling. We ordered enough appetizers to make a whole lunch, plus we ordered entrees. Because we are explorers.

Onward, we meandered through the park back to the station, where we bought tickets to our next destination, AdventHealth, just 7 minutes away.


From there, we headed to Orlando Science Center, which advises entering through the pedestrian bridge on Level 2 of the parking garage.

The Science Center is undergoing an update with construction of a 10,000-square-foot, $13.5 million exhibit called “Life” that will dominate the first floor. It replaces the NatureWorks exhibit that for years was a staple of school trips and family adventures. 

Rediscoverorl23 Sunrail3

Orlando Science Center. Photo by Roberto Gonzalez

Set to open by year’s end, Life will feature a tropical rainforest, a Florida swamp and an ocean habitat with a coral reef tank.

We played with the interactive exhibits on all four levels and giggled, like the other kids, at the prehistoric poop display adjacent to the DinoDigs exhibit.


Our last stop was Church Street, 8 minutes away. By now it was 4 p.m., and we were nearly ready to go home. We strolled up Church Street to Orange Avenue and reminisced about the many shows we had gone to at The Beacham, The Social and Backbooth. We had eaten at pretty much every restaurant in the area as well. 

We could have, and should have, trekked a little farther east to the Orlando jewel that is Lake Eola Park. The Walt Disney Amphitheater, swan boats and their inspiration, live swans, await, as do a shaded path and a Chinese pagoda.

Lake Eola will be saved for another day, as will so many other truly splendid sights along the SunRail route, such as Sanford’s historic downtown and its gorgeous Lake Monroe waterfront. 

At just $24 total in train fare, we found our SunRail adventure to be affordable and thoroughly enjoyable.  

Categories: News and Features