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Amtrak Train to Seattle from Vancouver

December 6th, 2011 @ 2:21pm (PT) by Rebecca Bollwitt

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.

Amtrak Cascades Mud Bay Surrey BC 08-04-2005 10-28AM
Photo credit: Stephen Rees on Flickr

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.

Amtrak Cascades talgo coach interior
Photo credit: Stephen Rees on Flickr

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.


Quick (sped-up) video I shot with my iPhone along the route.

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.

Disclosure: cmp.ly/1

I was not paid to write this post. Amtrak Cascades did not provide a complimentary trip. My train tickets were covered by the Fairmont Olympic in Seattle.

Current contests on Miss604.com

13 comments

  1. Mark says:

    Looks fantastic! Great idea for a good outing!

  2. Jeff MacLeod says:

    You make weird looking trains Amtrak.

  3. They’re pretty low, eh? We pulled up next to a VIA Rail train at Pacific Central and its passenger cars towered over us.

  4. NG says:

    Great review of Amtrak Cascades. Sometimes on weekends they even have docents who will explain what you are passing as you look through the windows!

  5. I was just thinking about taking the Amtrak from Vancouver to Seattle in mid-February – how timely is that! And I do so love the trains. Thanks for your post, B!

  6. Darcy McGee says:

    They’re low for aerodynamic and stability reasons. VIA trains are antiques compared to this, and yes..it’s one of the best ways to get to Seattle. I dated a woman who lived there for about a year and I always preferred taking the train to driving.

    Now about that photo you’ve liberated: it’s licenced with this licence:
    http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/deed.en_CA
    which makes it legal for NonCommercial use only. Since this is a blatantly commercial enterprise, I wonder if you took the time to get the photo owner’s permission to use the photo or if you just stole it?

    Also: the correct spelling is “ravine.”

  7. Hi Darcy,

    Thank you for your concern on behalf of my colleague, Stephen Rees. I have full permission from Stephen, whom I have known for years. Pasting the Flickr source code of a licensed image, with full link and credit, is not often (if ever) thought of as “stealing”. I have sent you a detailed email outlining photo licenses, use, and my site’s policy.

    Regards,

    Rebecca

  8. Stephen Rees says:

    Oh Darcy McGee thank you so much for rushing to my rescue. It was hardly necessary.

    I met Rebecca at Northern Voice several years ago, and we have stayed in touch since. “Blatantly commercial” is a bit harsh. Miss604 is a professional blogger and supports herself, in part, by her blog. More power to her. I don’t do that with my blog – or my pictures – but I am very happy to see them used in this way. And we have indeed communicated to that effect. By the way, I did the same trip a while ago and used the Amtrak wifi to live blog about it. I agree with much of what she writes about her experience on the train.

  9. bg says:

    i soooo look forwrd to making this trip the next time i am west

  10. vicky says:

    A friend from London Ontario is visiting at the end of January…we are taking the train to Seattle! Thanks for a great story! Can’t wait :)

  11. Laura says:

    Thanks so much for sharing this trip! I have been curious about what it’s like to take the train to Seattle. Sounds awesome!

  12. Carol says:

    I have been wanting to make that trip for a very long time and see Pike Place Market. Thank you for your great review. Now I know I definitely want to go more than ever.

  13. Laura Haynes says:

    Thanks so much for posting about this. I am visiting Vancouver for a week from 1st Oct and was looking into visiting Seattle for the day so was glad to find your website. Really informative thanks.

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