For years I’ve been hearing about how wonderful the train trip is from Vancouver to Seattle. 4 hours straight across the border, coastline the majority of the way, free WiFi, and no worries. I experienced the journey myself just a few days ago and aside from the early departure and a few delays with the Fraser Bridge, it was the smoothest ride to Seattle that I’ve had.
Departing from the Pacific Central terminal off Main Street in Vancouver, passengers go through US customs and a quick baggage scanner before boarding. The seats are wide and soft, with tray tables, arm rests, and a power outlet under every window. The free WiFi stays pretty strong until more people join the ride around Bellingham and Everett but otherwise I was able to work comfortably.
When you reach the Peace Arch border crossing a few customs agents come aboard to collect your declaration cards (that the agents you spoke with that at the train station already stamped). They may ask a few additional questions but I think overall the stop took less than 10 minutes.
If you would like some breakfast you can make your way to the bistro car, which I found was usually toward the front of the train. They have breakfast sandwiches (heated up in the microwave) and oatmeal, which my friend Dave recommended I try. There are lunch items if your trip is later in the day and the Ivar’s clam chowder was also recommended to me.
What I enjoy most about train travel, aside from the fact that I do not need to drive, is that you get to explore the back corners of your region — where there are no roads. Rail lines snake behind buildings, between ravine walls, and over waterways that are not always in plain sight. We coasted behind Burnaby Lake, looped around Boundary Bay (it seemed as though we were right on the water itself), and hugged the cliff around Chuckanut Drive. Bald eagles, harbour seals, and herons dotted the landscape.
Arriving in Seattle at King Street Station you end up right near Century Link Field (aka The Clink, formerly Qwest Field). Taxis await if you aren’t already within walking distance of your destination. You can also bring your bike along, just select that as an option when you book your tickets.
The Amtrak Cascades route from Vancouver could take you all the way to Portland or Eugene, Oregon — or one of many points in between. Doing a quick fare search, I found that you can book a round-trip for as little as $38 each way. Given the scenery, the comforts, and the time the route takes, it’s an option we’ll definitely consider in the future when we head down for Mariners games.