Seattle and Vancouver are cities in the Pacific North West that deserve more than a few days in each city. If you’re keen to explore the area further, hit the road and discover everything in between. Located just a few hours apart, these two cities are well connected by road, multiple ferry routes, train and even air options. The drive from Vancouver to Seattle (and vice-versa) is a great way to experience a road trip filled with beautiful scenery, national parks, farms, castles and other attractions.
The most direct land route between Vancouver and Seattle is via the Pacific Highway border crossing along the Interstate-5 (I-5) freeway, which is about a 2.5-hour drive, depending on traffic and border wait times. You can relax on a comfortable BoltBus service (BoltBus is run in partnership with Greyhound) or the inexpensive FlixBus. But driving yourself (check out car rental rates here) allows you to take detours and explore attractions en route at your own pace.
On your road trip, you’ll visit local farming communities and get beautiful gardens, watch the whales and sunset from a scenic coastal route, take a ferry to explore islands or drive through the mountains on the Cascade Loop. These routes may take you out of your way for a few hours or a few days but once you’ve seen what the Pacific Northwest has to offer, you might even want to stay longer.
Fun Fact: Drive long enough on the I-5 and you’ll reach the Mexico border!
- Vancouver To Seattle
- Vancouver To Seattle Road Trip – 20 Places To Explore
- 1- Vancouver
- 2- Steveston Heritage Fishing Village in Richmond, BC
- 3- Fort Langley National Historic Site of Canada
- 4- White Rock (home to Canada’s longest pier)
- 5- Blaine (US-Canada crossing on I-5)
- 6- Lynden
- 7- Bellingham
- 8- Chuckanut Drive
- 9- Burlington
- 10- North Cascades National Park
- 11- Orcas Island
- 12- San Juan Island
- 13- Whidbey Island
- 14- Boeing’s Future of Flight Aviation Center
- 15- Seattle
- Other ways to travel from Vancouver to Seattle
- Vancouver to Seattle Border Crossing
Vancouver To Seattle
- Need a car? Compare rental car rates here.
- One way to get from Vancouver to Seattle is to transfer to Victoria by bus and board the high-speed passenger ferry from Victoria to Seattle.
- Looking for a scenic flight? Book a seaplane from Vancouver to Seattle here.
- Want to travel by train? The Amtrak Coast Starlight goes from Vancouver to Seattle and on to San Francisco return.
- Going the other way? Take a day trip to Vancouver from Seattle or a day trip from Seattle to Victoria on the Victoria Clipper.
Vancouver To Seattle Road Trip – 20 Places To Explore
Start your journey south from Vancouver by visiting Vancouver’s largest urban park in North Vancouver.
This 1000-acre (405 ha) urban park is one of the largest in North America.
It has a beautiful natural setting with walking and biking paths, beaches and scenic views of the water and mountains.
North Vancouver also has many hiking and skiing trails in the forested North Shore Mountains, including Grouse Mountain, where the Skyride cable car offers sweeping city views.
If you are travelling with kids, the Vancouver Aquarium in the park is where you can learn about dolphins, sea otters, penguins and other sea life.
Visit the Vancouver lookout’s observation deck for views of the city and mountains from a height of 162.5 m (553 feet). The Vancouver City Hop-on Hop-off tour will get you around the city.
2- Steveston Heritage Fishing Village in Richmond, BC
Steveston Heritage Fishing Village is a charming and historic port community in Richmond.
Once a fishing village on the west coast and a major salmon canning hub, Steveston today has a heritage status and is known to have Canada’s largest fleet of more than 600 fishing boats.
The village has seen many changes over the years but retains its quaint and peaceful character of a fishing village and attracts visitors from around the world.
It’s rich history and culture lie in its pretty streets, charming shops and restaurants, and picturesque harbour views.
You can also visit many museums and galleries to glimpse the village’s past, including the Gulf of Georgia Cannery National Historic Site and the Steveston Museum.
The village is surrounded by beautiful landscapes of the Pacific Ocean and the Fraser River, making it a popular destination for fishing, boating, hiking and cycling.
Distance from Vancouver: 12 km (7.5 miles)
Driving time from Vancouver: 16 minutes
3- Fort Langley National Historic Site of Canada
A short distance from Vancouver, this former fur trading post was a hub for trade between First Nations, European settlers and the fur trade industry.
Visit Fort Langley to learn about the landmark’s fascinating history and impact on Indigenous peoples and European settlers through various exhibits and interactive activities.
You can also participate in hands-on demonstrations of traditional trade skills such as blacksmithing and barrel-making here. Download the Film & Television Smartphone Audio Walking Tour.
Distance from Richmond: 54 km (33.5 miles)
Driving time from Richmond: 51 minutes
4- White Rock (home to Canada’s longest pier)
White Rock is a beautiful seaside community near the Canada-US border, close to the I-5 and BC-99, and home to Canada’s longest pier.
The pier is 470 m (1540 ft) long and is named after the large white boulder on the beach near the promenade lined with restaurants and shops.
Enjoy stunning sunsets, peaceful beaches and a friendly small-town community.
A long walk on the pier will be rewarded with majestic panoramic views of Semiahmoo Bay, the San Juan Islands, and the Olympic Mountains in the distance.
The area is also a popular spot for swimming, sunbathing and beachcombing.
Distance from Fort Langley: 47 km (29.2 miles)
Driving time from Fort Langley: 43 minutes
5- Blaine (US-Canada crossing on I-5)
South of the US-Canadian border, this coastal city makes for a good stop as soon as you enter the US.
Stop for a drink and snack in the city’s historic downtown area, where you will find a selection of shops, restaurants and cafes.
The downtown area can get quite lively as many travellers from the US crossing over to explore Vancouver and other Canadian destinations might stop here.
Blaine Marine Park and Semiahmoo Park offer stunning views of Drayton Harbor and a variety of recreational opportunities.
If you are interested in birdwatching, the Semiahmoo Spit is also a lovely, flat walk great for bird-watching in Blaine year-round.
Snap a photo at the Peace Arch border crossing, a historic landmark built to celebrate the Treaty of Ghent, which ended the War of 1812 between Canada and the USA. This Private Border Corner Tour in Washington visits several places in the area.
Distance from White Rock: 47 km (29.2 miles)
Driving time from White Rock: 43 minutes
For more attractions in Vancouver and on Vancouver Island read:
A few miles south of the US-Canadian border and a short detour from the I-5, Lynden county is known for its Dutch heritage and charming downtown area.
Lynden offers Dutch-inspired architecture, art, food and a small-town charm, making it a great getaway spot with a touch of European flair.
There’s a variety of specialty shops and restaurants, antique stores and parks like Lynden City Park, which is great if you’re travelling with kids as it has a large playground, picnic areas and a skate park.
Pop into the Lynden Dutch Bakery for Dutch pastries and treats, like stroopwafels.
Lynden also hosts an annual Raspberry Festival that celebrates the region’s raspberry harvest with a parade, street fair and other events.
Distance from Blaine: 25 km (15.7 miles)
Driving time from Blaine: 22 minutes
Bellingham is a port city with stunning natural scenery, a thriving arts and culture scene, and easy access to outdoor recreation.
The city is the gateway to Mount Baker and Mount Shuksan, which offer hiking trails, mountain biking and skiing, and the nearby islands.
It has a growing arts scene, with numerous galleries, museums, and performance venues like The Mount Baker Theatre, SPARK Museum of Electrical Invention and Whatcom Museum.
Visit the Marine Life Center for exhibits and hands-on activities like the touch tanks, where you can have a close look at sea stars, anemones, crabs and other denizens of the Pacific Northwest. Download the Ultimate Scavenger Bellingham app to help you explore.
Distance from Lynden: 24 km (15.1 miles)
Driving time from Lynden: 30 minutes
8- Chuckanut Drive
If you are pressed for time but still want to enjoy a scenic drive, Chuckanut Drive is the shortest and easiest scenic route to incorporate into your journey.
The 20-mile (32 km) trip from Burlington to Bellingham offers great views as it hugs the shoreline of Samish Bay on Washington State Highway 11.
With connections to the I-5 freeway at both ends, taking a detour on Chuckanut Drive is an excellent way to add a scenic leg to your journey to Seattle.
For fresh oysters, drop into one of the restaurants along Chuckanut Drive. You may also like the Chuckanut Bay Distillery Tour, which includes two mini cocktails and gift glass.
Halfway between Vancouver and Seattle in Skagit County, Burlington is a popular destination for outlet shopping.
Several shopping centres in the area offer brand-name merchandise at discounted prices.
The Seattle Premium Outlets has over 130 stores, including a variety of popular brands such as Nike, Coach, Michael Kors, and Calvin Klein, as well as a food court and other amenities.
Cascade Mall has anchor stores, such as Macy’s, Target, and Kohl’s, as well as a variety of other retailers, along with a food court and a movie theatre, making it a popular destination for shopping and entertainment.
Skagit Valley Square is another shopping centre in the area that offers shopping options.
If you are travelling to Anacortes onwards to the San Juan Islands or planning to take the Northern Cascades Scenic Highway route, take the State Route 20 from Burlington.
Distance from Bellingham: 38 km (24 miles)
Driving time from Bellingham: 30 minutes
10- North Cascades National Park
If you love the outdoors and want to spend time amidst nature, you can take the long route (detour) from Vancouver to Seattle through the North Cascades Scenic Highway near Seattle.
This picturesque route through Washington State Route 20 is worth visiting in spring and summer when the snow remains on the mountains but the road is not slippery.
This 140-mile (225 km) byway spans the section of the Cascade Loop from Twisp in the Methow Valley to Sedro-Woolley in the Skagit Valley.
The route takes you through the rugged North Cascades National Park, which boasts jagged mountain peaks, towering spires, cascading waterfalls, and shiny alpine glaciers, often called the “North American Alps.”
It ends in the lush, green Skagit Valley, famous for its annual tulip festival.
Take a break and snap some unforgettable photos at the Ross and Diablo Dam Overlooks.
Distance from Burlington: 9 km (5.6 miles)
Driving time from Burlington: 11 minutes
11- Orcas Island
Orcas Island is a picturesque island in the San Juan archipelago and a lovely spot for natural beauty and outdoor recreation.
There are breathtaking views and it’s a popular destination if you’re looking for a peaceful retreat from city life.
The 5,000-acre (2023 ha) Moran State Park has miles of hiking trails and freshwater lakes.
There are campgrounds for camping and picnic areas for day trips here.
The Eastsound community is the largest of the island’s towns and villages.
You can also enjoy whale watching (especially orcas or killer whales) and fishing on the island, with many excursion and tour operators offering regular whale watching tours.
Although whales are regularly spotted throughout the year, March to October is the best time to go on a whale-watching tour.
Take the State Route 20 to Anacortes and Orcas Island ferry to Eastsound.
Distance from North Cascades National Park to Anacortes: 39 km (24 miles)
Driving time from North Cascades National Park to Anacortes: 30 minutes
Ferry time from Anacortes: 1 hour 18 minutes
12- San Juan Island
San Juan Island is the second-largest ferry-accessible island in the San Juan archipelago.
Home to harbour seals, the island has many outdoor and recreational activities such as kayaking, beachcombing, hiking and fishing.
The Lime Kiln Point State Park is one of the island’s main attractions and a prime spot for whale watching, with views of the Haro Strait and the Olympic Mountains.
Explore the park’s historic lighthouse and enjoy picnicking and hiking in the park’s forested areas.
The island’s largest town is Friday Harbor, a popular base for exploring the island.
Visit the island’s historic sites – American Camp and English Camp to know the island’s importance during the Pig War.
Take the State Route 20 to Anacortes and Friday Harbor ferry to Friday Harbor.
Ferry time from Anacortes: 1 hour 33 minutes
13- Whidbey Island
Whidbey Island is a beautiful and scenic destination that offers a glimpse into the rural, coastal life of the region.
Visit this island by taking a short detour off the I-5 onto State Route 20 via the Deception Pass Bridge.
This bridge offers stunning views of the surrounding Puget Sound and is a popular spot for photo opportunities.
Once on Whidbey Island, take your time and enjoy the island’s scenic drives and rural roads.
Visit the historic Fort Casey State Park to learn about the island’s military past and the Whidbey Island Center for the Arts to experience the island’s thriving arts community.
You’ll pass charming towns, rolling farmlands and pristine beaches.
Make sure to stop at one of the many local farms and farmer’s markets to sample the fresh produce and products of the island.
Take the State Route 525 to Clinton and Mukilteo ferry to Mukilteo.
Distance from Anacortes to Whidbey Island: 85 km (53 miles)
Driving time from Anacortes to Whidbey Island: 1 hour 11 minutes
14- Boeing’s Future of Flight Aviation Center
Boeing’s Future of Flight Aviation Center is an interactive museum in Mukilteo, Washington, just a few miles from the Boeing Everett Factory.
The museum offers a fascinating explanation of the history and future of aviation through interactive exhibits, hands-on displays and simulations that provide unique experiences, such as how to fly a plane or control a spacecraft.
There are also exhibits showcasing the latest aerospace technology, including Boeing’s newest commercial and military aircraft.
Distance from Whidbey Island (via Mukilteo ferry): 18.5 km (11.5 miles)
Driving time from Whidbey Island: 45 minutes
Depending on which direction you are going, your fantastic journey through the Pacific North West comes to an end (or starts) in Seattle, Washington.
Your travels from Vancouver to Seattle would have taken you to snow-capped mountains, fishing villages, beautiful islands, hot springs, rainforests, lakes, waterfalls, quaint towns and even outlet shopping malls.
Seattle is a fantastic city that rivals Vancouver in terms of a stunning waterfront, eclectic food scene, thriving arts and culture community, iconic landmarks, museums and galleries.
Places to visit in Seattle are the Space Needle, Chihuly Garden and Glass, Seattle Art Museum, Olympic Sculpture Park, Museum of Pop Culture and Seattle Water Front. The Beneath The Streets Underground History Tour is very popular and a Seattle Harbor Cruise is another relaxing way to see the city.
You can also do many day trips from Seattle, especially during summer.
Distance from Boeing: 45 km (28 miles)
Driving time from Boeing: 37 minutes
Other ways to travel from Vancouver to Seattle
By Ferry (via Victoria)
The ferry route from Vancouver to Seattle via Victoria is one of the most scenic.
You can get to Victoria on the ferry from Tsawwassen Ferry Terminal to the Swartz Bay Ferry Terminal (about 1.5 hours). If you don’t want to worry about getting to the ferry terminal in time, get a ticket on a coach from Vancouver city that includes the bus ride and the ferry trip.
A benefit of going by ferry is you can make a trip of it and stay a few days to explore Victoria. From Victoria, there are a couple of options:
- Take the Victoria Clipper high-speed passenger ferry to Pier 69 in Seattle. The trip between Victoria and Seattle takes about three hours and offers stunning views of the mountains, the ocean and the surrounding islands.
- Take the Black Ball Ferry Line to Port Angeles Ferry Terminal on Olympic Peninsula in Washington State, then drive to Seattle (check out rental car prices here). This option allows you to explore Olympic National Park and travel onward to Seattle using the State Route 104 from Kingston to Edmonds Ferry Line and reach the mainland near Seattle.
Both options involve crossing the US-Canadian border via international waters. Highlights include passing through the Strait of Georgia, the San Juan Islands and the Gulf Islands.
Ferry time from Victoria to Seattle: 3 hours
Ferry time from Victoria to Port Angeles Ferry Terminal: 1.5 hours
Distance from Port Angeles Ferry Terminal to Seattle: 132 km (82.3 miles)
Driving time from Port Angeles Ferry Terminal to Seattle: 2.5 hours
Attractions in Victoria include:
- Royal BC Museum: The Royal BC Museum has fascinating exhibits on the natural and human history of British Columbia, including a collection of First Nations artefacts, the history of the fur trade, the gold rush and the province’s settlement. The museum also has a research facility.
- Malahat Skywalk: Malahat offers panoramic views of the forests and mountains on Vancouver Island from a height. The main attraction is a 600-foot elevated walkway that leads to a 10-storey spiral tower with an observation deck.
- Victoria Butterfly Gardens: The lovely butterfly garden has tropical plants and flowers, 70 species of butterflies, birds, and other animals. Enjoy the indoor and outdoor exhibits and learn about their natural habitats and behaviours.
- Butchart Garden: This beautiful garden is outside of Victoria in Brentwood Bay. It has a stunning collection of flowers, plants and trees with themed gardens, such as the Rose Garden, the Japanese Garden and the Italian Garden. Enjoy a peaceful garden stroll and participate in seasonal events and activities.
- Hatley Castle: This historic castle has been used as a setting for many popular TV shows and movies in Colwood. It’s now part of the campus of Royal Roads University.
- Craigdarroch Castle: This historic castle in the Rockland neighbourhood of Victoria features beautiful architecture and stunning city views.
- Inner Harbour: This area is the heart of downtown Victoria and features the iconic Empress Hotel, the British Columbia Parliament Buildings, shops and restaurants.
Olympic National Park, WA
Olympic National Park is a stunning natural reserve that covers a vast area of over 922,000 acres.
The park includes various elevations and distinct ecosystems, from snow-capped mountains and alpine meadows to lush temperate rainforests and rugged coastlines.
If you love outdoor activities, you can choose from an incredible range of options like hiking, camping, fishing, skiing, hot springs, glacial lakes, beaches, waterfalls, and even bird and whale watching.
The Hoh rainforest inside the park has some of the world’s largest trees, such as the Sitka spruce and the Western Hemlock.
Ruby beach and Kalaloch beach are popular for their dramatic views of the Pacific Ocean, while Hurricane Ridge offers stunning panoramic views of the Olympic Mountains.
Go enjoy hiking and wildlife viewing and enjoy winter sports activities, such as snowshoeing and skiing.
With its incredible natural beauty and diverse ecosystems, Olympic National Park is a national treasure and a must-see destination for nature lovers.
You can take the Amtrak Cascades train from Vancouver Pacific Central Station to Seattle King Street Station.
The European-style train operates daily and takes approximately four hours and follows a scenic route along the coast, with several stops along the way.
Enjoy a variety of delicious dishes and beverages during the journey and enjoy the scenic vistas through which the train chugs along.
Taking the train allows you to connect easily with the famous Coast Starlight run by Amtrak which runs from Seattle to Los Angeles through the breathtaking Pacific West Coast.
By Cruise Shuttle
Cruise shuttles from Vancouver to Seattle are a popular transportation option for tourists and those with time to spare, with pick-up and drop service to transfer points within the city.
Although more expensive than other options, a cruise shuttle is a relaxing and enjoyable way to travel between the cities.
Taking a cruise shuttle allows you to avoid long queues and wait times at the airport.
Cruise shuttles take around five hours, while the transfer and border formalities can take about an hour or two.
There are several direct flights between the two cities and travel time is around one hour.
Airlines that fly between Vancouver and Seattle include Alaska Airlines, Delta and Air Canada, usually between Vancouver International Airport (YVR) and Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (SEA).
Other airports in the surrounding areas are also used for regional flights or private charters.
Travelling from Vancouver to Seattle by bus is an inexpensive option.
Several bus companies operate between the two cities, with Greyhound, BoltBus and Quick Shuttle being popular options.
Depending on traffic, the direct route from Vancouver to Seattle takes about three hours, and you can enjoy scenic views.
Flying from Vancouver to Seattle is an experience in itself.
While the fastest and most convenient way to travel, a seaplane also offers unforgettable coastline views, an aerial view of the cities, and everything in between.
A seaplane flight takes about one hour plus check-in formalities.
Unlike a traditional aircraft, a seaplane follows a low flight path giving you a close and stunning view of the coast and surrounding islands.
Pick-up and drop service anywhere in the city is another convenience of the seaplane option. Find out more here.
Vancouver to Seattle Border Crossing
If you are travelling from Vancouver, BC to Seattle, USA, you will cross the Canadian-US border. Here’s what you need to know:
- Documents: Crossing the border requires a valid passport or NEXUS card. Non-US citizens will need a US visa or an Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA) approval.
- Customs Declaration: You must declare all items you bring into the US, including any gifts, souvenirs or purchases and may be required to pay duties or taxes on some items.
- Prohibited Items: When entering the US, you may not be allowed to bring food items like fruit, vegetables and meat. Check the US Customs and Border Protection website for a complete list of prohibited items.
- Travel Information: You may be asked for your travel itinerary, the purpose of your trip, length of stay, and to provide proof of accommodation in the US.
- Border Wait Times: Check the border wait times on the US Customs website before you travel. There may be long wait times at the border during peak travel times.
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