By Marie Gilmore

With a family of 5 which includes 3 boys ages 15, 11 and 2, summer vacation has taken on a whole new meaning. Gone are the good ole’ days of 1 to 1 coverage. Now, they have us out-numbered and although the 15-year-old is a lot of help, the ‘on-the-move’ 2-year-old makes up for that cooperation. So, planning a family vacation which offered us the opportunity to take our family minivan complete with car seat with 5-point harness, big stroller, little stroller, pack-n-play, portable high chair, coolers, luggage for five and toys and supplies for entertainment…was absolutely priceless this trip.

Last summer, we selected the AmTrak Auto Train and a trip to Washington, D.C. with a visit to family up in Chipman, New Brunswick, Canada and back with stops in Philadelphia, Boston, New York City, Baltimore and back to Virginia to catch the train back home.

The AmTrak Auto Train currently operates one route in North America daily. It leaves from Sanford, FL and from Lorton, Virginia each day at 4 p.m. and arrives at its destination by 9 a.m. On our particular trip, there were 240 passenger vehicles and 350 people aboard the train. The train has passenger, dining and movie cars in addition to the special vehicle cars that stack vehicles with special ramps within the cars.

Upon drop off, AmTrak staff take possession of the vehicle and take care of the driving of the vehicle onto the train cars. Vans, cars, motorcycles are welcome and passengers aboard Autotrain must have a vehicle to load.

Families should check in early day of the trip as seats are assigned first-come, first served.
First stop, Washington, D.C., but not before a great trip to the Udvar-Hazy Center Smithsonian Air & Space Museum.

Next stop Boston, MA and a great trip. We rented a VRBO home in the Jamaica Pond District and had additional family join us. One day touring Harvard and exploring the Metro system and another day taking the tour and starting at the shipyards and following the Freedom Trail.
We drove up to New Brunswick for a family visit and made sure to bring passports for all family members for the border crossing.

En route back to Virgina, we decided to make a day trip detour to New York City with the kids. Knowing we couldn’t scratch the surface with just a daytrip, we wanted to give the kids as much opportunity to see the sights as possible so we parked at the Circle-Line Sightseeing Boat Landmark Tour including Statue of Liberty, One World Trade Center, Empire State Building, Wall Street, Brooklyn Bridge & more. Book at

Directly adjacent to the Circle-Line boat harbor, sits the USS Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum. The Intrepid is a former aircraft carrier launched in 1943 which fought in World War II, survived five kamikaze attacks and one torpedo strike. The ship later served in the Cold War and the Vietnam War. Intrepid also served as a NASA recovery vessel in the 1960s. It was decommissioned in 1974, and today is berthed on the Hudson River. In addition, the museum offers the Space Shuttle Pavilion showcases the space shuttle Enterprise, the prototype NASA orbiter that paved the way for America’s successful space shuttle program.

Seventeen dynamic exhibit zones feature original artifacts, photographs, audio, and films that immerse visitors in the science and history of the space shuttle era. Visit

Of course, we were just able to scratch the surface of everything New York City has to offer and we will return!

For Auto Train routes and reservations, visit

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Marie Gilmore
Marie is the Managing Editor at the Osprey Observer. She covers news, transportation, education and likes to make a positive impact on the community and be 'in the know'!