The Great White North likes to head south. America received 21.5 million visitations from Canada in 2018.
The Vancouver to Seattle route is very popular for Canadians. Seattle is a vibrant and diverse city, and the route can take you through many incredible places.
But what exactly is the road trip like, and how long is it? What are some cities you can stop in for a day trip? What are some smaller attractions worth checking out?
Answer these questions and you can have a great trip without breaking the bank. Here is your comprehensive guide.
The Distance Between Vancouver and Seattle
The shortest distance from Vancouver to Seattle is 192 kilometres or 119 miles. This is a direct connection between the two city centers.
The distance on the road depends on which road you take. Driving south on British Columbia Highway 99 and then on Interstate 5 means you will drive for roughly 230 kilometres or 143 miles. Taking the Trans-Canadian Highway and then connecting to Interstate 5 through side streets will take roughly 236 kilometres.
These figures are baselines. You may drive for a longer or shorter distance depending on your starting point and destination. But the relatively short distance means Seattle is a good place to start planning for a workation.
Vancouver to Seattle Drive Time
If you drive at 60 kilometres per hour, you will complete your drive in under four hours. But many factors can affect how long your trip takes.
You are going to cross the Canadian-American border. Lines to cross the border can be long, especially on weekends and during holidays. If you are pulled aside for further screening or questioning, you may lose an hour or more of time.
Traffic along Interstate 5 can be heavy. You will drive through a few cities, and each city has its own traffic conditions. Traffic can also become very extensive as you get into the Seattle metropolitan area.
Seattle is infamous for its extensive rain. It's always recommended to take extra precautions when driving on wet roads.
You should prepare for a drive that may last six or more hours. Look at the weather and plan out alternate routes you can take should conditions get worse. Pick a day of the week where traffic will be lighter. To ensure your journey is a safe and fun from one right from the planning stage, refer to our road trip checklist article.
How Much Will Gas Cost?
In Vancouver, one litre of gasoline cost 159.8 cents on average in November 2021. The price can fluctuate from month to month, so do your research immediately before you start your road trip.
The average Canadian car consumes roughly nine litres of gasoline for every 100 kilometres it travels. If you have a foreign car, you may consume less gasoline, though not substantially so.
Taken together, these statistics mean that you will spend over $14 on gasoline as you travel to Seattle. You may need to spend more money if you are stuck in traffic or have to idle for a long period.
Which Cities Are Between Vancouver and Seattle?
Vancouver and Seattle each have plenty of sights to see. But your route can take you through many cities with their own attractions. Leave yourself a spare day so you can spend time in one particular city.
Burnaby is a city in British Columbia. It is directly east of Vancouver on the Burrard Peninsula.
It is a good destination if you want a smaller city than Vancouver that offers many of the city's amenities. It is also a good destination if you want a quick activity before you commit to driving.
If you like museums, the Burnaby Village Museum is open between May and September. You can tour through a reconstructed village from the 1920s, visiting dozens of buildings. You can also attend holiday events year-round and ride on a vintage carousel.
The Nikkei National Museum and Cultural Centre celebrates Japanese-Canadians. You can browse exhibits on Japanese-Canadian history and buy books and artworks.
If you prefer the outdoors, you can visit a number of parks and natural sites throughout the city. Central Park contains a rainforest ecosystem with numerous trails you can hike on.
Richmond is another city in British Columbia. It is on the coast of the Lower Mainland, facing toward the Strait of Georgia. It is one of the must-see Canadian places to visit during the wintertime.
It has mild temperatures and less rain than Vancouver, so it is a good place to stop for outdoor activities. You can find many parks and outdoor pools sprinkled throughout the city. The Iona Beach Regional Park contains a multitude of trails and spots by the water to rest.
The city also contains several historic sites related to shipping. The Britannia Shipyards National Historic Site offers many historic buildings, telling the stories of Richmond's diverse population.
Community groups organize art exhibitions throughout the year. You can find sculptures outdoors and paintings inside art galleries.
If you are booking reservations or tickets in Richmond, make sure you are looking at the right city. There are a few different cities named Richmond inside Canada and the United States. You want the Richmond in British Columbia with area codes 236, 604, 672, and 778.
You should also avoid confusing Richmond with Redmond. Redmond is a city in Washington directly north of Seattle.
Delta is located south of the Fraser River but north of the Canadian-American border. You can access Delta from Richmond through the Alex Fraser Bridge. It is one of the best places to live in BC.
It is roughly 30 minutes outside of Vancouver, but it is a rural city. If you want a taste of nature before going into Seattle, you should stop in Delta.
Three bodies of water border the city. You can walk along the Fraser River and visit parks near Boundary Bay.
The Burns Bog is a large peat bog. You can visit the Delta Nature Preserve, though the preserve comprises only a small portion of Burns Bog. You may be able to attend events like wine tastings and public lectures.
Bellingham is a city in Washington. You can reach it after roughly an hour and a half of driving from Seattle.
The city is best known for its outdoor recreation options. It is close to the North Cascades and the San Juan Islands. If you have some time for camping or mountaineering, you can stay in Bellingham and then go outside the city for these activities.
It is also a good hub for shopping. The Bellingham Farmers Market is open to the public between April and December. You can buy from dozens of vendors and listen to local bands perform.
The Commercial Street Night Market is open between May and September. It also offers vendors and food from restaurants, making it a good stop for dinner.
For indoor attractions, Bellingham offers several small museums. The Bellingham Railway Museum lets you learn about the history of the railroads in Bellingham. The SPARK Museum of Electrical Invention is an interactive museum that helps children learn about electricity.
Port Townsend is three and a half hours from Vancouver. The city is located off of Interstate 5 on the northern tip of the Olympic Peninsula.
Getting to Port Townsend will take you off the road to Seattle. But this makes the city a good destination if you want to see something different or take a break from the highway.
Port Townsend has many small attractions to offer. Architecture enthusiasts can visit the Port Townsend Historic District. Many 19th-century buildings are located within walking distance of each other, including churches and theatres.
Art lovers can tour different galleries downtown. An art walk is open to the public on the first Saturday of every month, letting you view the works of local artists.
Bellevue is east of Seattle. Some people describe it as a suburb of Seattle, but others regard it as a separate city with its own amenities. It is a good place to stay if Seattle accommodations are too expensive or if you want to see more of America.
The city is home to several major cultural events. The Bellevue Arts and Crafts Fair occurs in July, with hundreds of artists participating in the event. The Bellevue Strawberry Festival takes place in June, and you can sample strawberries from local farms.
You can also visit numerous parks and open spaces. The Bellevue Botanical Garden is a public park that contains several gardens with species of plants from all over the world.
Interesting Stops Between Vancouver and Seattle
You can spend a day in cities and you can spend an hour or so in particular places. See if you can visit an interesting stop on your way to Seattle and on your way back to Vancouver.
Capilano Suspension Bridge
The Capilano Suspension Bridge stretches across the Capilano River in North Vancouver. It is a footbridge, not a bridge for cars. It is more than 100 metres long and it is dozens of metres above the Capilano River.
The bridge is located inside Capilano Suspension Bridge Park. The park is private property, so you must pay for tickets so you can enter. You must buy tickets in advance of arriving at the park.
The bridge offers scenic views of trees, the river, and the surrounding area. During the holiday season, the park attaches lights to the bridge at night.
If you want to complete other attractions, you can walk on the Cliffwalk. The Cliffwalk offers high and narrow walkways that bring you close to nature.
Stanley Park lies within Vancouver's Downtown Peninsula. It is a large urban park that contains a forest inside of it. The forest makes the park feel more rural and removed than most urban parks.
You can spend hours walking through the park and soaking in nature. If you like the water, you can walk along the Vancouver Seawall. You can fish once you acquire a permit.
The Stanley Park Railway is a miniature railway that children can ride on. Adults can ride in separate train cars, taking in the forest bit by bit.
The park also contains several monuments. You can find the Japanese Canadian War Memorial as well as memorials to artists like Robert Burns.
Granville Island is a shopping district inside Vancouver. It offers one of the best shopping experiences in the city, giving you many local retailers to choose from.
The Granville Island Public Market is an enclosed market for food vendors. You can find snacks, meals, and foods from many different countries. You can visit the market to stock up on food before you hit the road again.
You can also find many small gift shops, making it a good place to get Canadian products for American friends and relatives. Keep in mind that stores may have different hours, so check the website for Granville before you go shopping.
Fairhaven is a district in Bellingham. Some people refer to it as the Fairhaven Historic District. The district used to be an independent town, but it combined with Bellingham in the 1900s.
Fairhaven is similar to Granville Island as it is a hub for shops and restaurants. You can find seasonal farmer's markets and music festivals during the spring and summer.
There are two Washington Parks that you can visit in Washington State. The Washington Park Loop is a small nature trail near Anacortes. It is a good site for bird watching and walking your dog, especially after a long ride in the car.
The other Washington Park is a public park in Seattle. It contains the Washington Park Arboretum, which offers walking trails and gardens you can take photographs of. You can visit the Seattle Japanese Garden and attend public events throughout the year.
What to See When Driving From Vancouver to Seattle
You can see a lot during a Vancouver to Seattle road trip. The two cities are within 250 kilometres of each other and you can complete the trip in just a few short hours.
But you can spend a lot of time exploring various places. Burnaby and Richmond offer great museums and historic sites. Delta is good for outdoor activities while Bellingham caters to shoppers.
Interesting stops include the Capilano Suspension Bridge. Yet you can also walk through Stanley Park and Washington Park.
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