Tips for Taking the Amtrak from Seattle to Vancouver

by Megan Hill

Mar 7, 2015

The Washington State Ferry sailng past Bainbridge Island and the Olympic Mountains © Edmund Lowe | Dreamstime


There are many options for travelers to connect between Seattle and Vancouver, the Pacific Northwest’s largest cities. But none is more scenic than the Amtrak route, which offers an opportunity to pass some of the region’s best scenery with the convenience of letting someone else do the driving.


Starting near downtown Seattle, the train first passes through downtown before paralleling Elliott Bay, where views stretch to the West Seattle peninsula, Bainbridge Island and the distant Olympic Mountains, which make their first appearance. The tracks then curve toward the Ballard neighborhood, with its Scandinavian roots and maritime heritage.


You’ll then cross the Lake Washington Ship Canal, a wedge between two of Seattle’s hilly neighborhoods. You can peer into the Hiram M. Chittenden Locks, where scores of ships — sailboats, kayaks, industrial vessels and yachts — pass between fresh and salt water daily.


Hiram M. Chittenden Locks, Seattle Washington © Denise P. Lett | Dreamstime 40213836

Hiram M. Chittenden Locks © Denise P. Lett | Dreamstime 40213836


The views again open up as the train runs along Shilshole Bay, part of Puget Sound. You’ll pass marinas full of sailboats and wide-open views of the water and the Olympic Mountains. At this point in the trip, there are no roads nearby, so the view is entirely your own.


The route continues along the waterfront for a long stretch, passing islands and more mountain views. Along the way, look for the Olympic Mountains to the west and the Cascade Mountains to the east. Mount Baker’s snowy volcano becomes visible near Bellingham, Wash. You’ll end your trip at the Vancouver Pacific Central Station, conveniently located near downtown Vancouver.

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