One of the easiest mini breaks from Vancouver is a trip on the train down the coast to Seattle. If you’re after a feel for the USA but don’t want to spend too much, or travel for too long, then this trip is ideal.
Getting to Seattle is really easy.. crossing the border is nothing like the movies. We expected a hectic search of our bags and a million questions but it was super chill.
The price for the train is $120 for a return ticket. The price is pretty decent when you compare it to, on average, $400 for return flights. You can pick up train tickets via https://www.amtrak.com/home.html
Make sure to double check you have a valid ESTA visa for the USA. You need this to get in and Cams had nearly expired so double check!!
The train journey is about four hours long, so download some Netflix and try to grab a seat on the right hand side so you can see the ocean. The seats are comfy and spacious and we would take it over flying any day.
Book the early train (6:30am) for the way down and the evening train (7pm) for the way back up. This allows you to get the most out of your weekend.
Pack your own food to avoid the trains ‘bistro cart’ unless you want a soggy breakfast bagel or bloody mary at 7am.
Getting around the city
The Amtrak station (where you will get off) is located outside of downtown Seattle. The transit system is really good and the light rail station into the city is only a 5 minute walk away.
If you are planning on taking the public transport a fair bit then we recommend purchasing an ORCA Day pass for $8 plus $5 for the card. You can pick them up from any of the self service vending machines. Make sure that you tap on, either when you enter the station or when you hop on the train. There are wardens.. we nearly found this out the hard way. Here is the link to the Seattle transit system where you can find more information https://www.visitseattle.org/visitor-information/getting-around/
Where to stay for a decent price
Seattle is a big city which generally means a big price for accom, so on our first trip we decided to just to stay in a hostel. We stayed at City Hostel in downtown where we got a private room for two with breakfast included for around 100 Canadian bucks. Keep in mind that this is a free breakie at a hostel so don’t expect eggs bennie or anything. For solos or couples traveling to Seattle we would fully recommend this spot. Just visit https://www.hostelworld.com/ and search for City Hostel Seattle, it’s easy as.
Seattle is a great place to visit for the weekend. Here are our favourite things to get up to:
Pike Place Market
This is an iconic ‘instagram market’ and you’ve probably seen the entrance photo a million times on your gram. Once you get past the tourist photoshoot, you’ll find 40 year old men throwing fish to impress tourists, fresh produce, tonnes of eateries, and an alleyway full of gum (kind of gross). Cam was chewing at the time so contributed to the #art?
Across the street from the market is the first ever Starbucks, where the line for the merch is longer than the one for coffee. Cool tourist spot but if you are after a coffee it might be best to find another place. Up the road from there is the famous Pike Place Chowder. This is a super popular spot for lunch, or just to say you have been. Fresh seafood chowder served in a freshly baked bread roll…couldn’t get any better.
2. Bainbridge island and the Seattle Waterfront
If it’s a nice day and you’re keen to get out of the city then Bainbridge Island is for you. It is a short 30 minute ferry ride away and the best 8 bucks we spent. We found Bainbridge to be a lot like New Zealand and didn’t feel like the US at all. The small township is really relaxing and locally driven so therefore the prices on the island are a little steep. We had a great time hiring bikes and exploring the coast, however we semi ignored the exchange rate so it ended up being about 70 bucks..sheesh.
3. Amazon Go and Downtown Seattle
Amazon.com runs this city. Seattle seems to be the guinea pig for everything that Amazon can dream up including the first Amazon Go store. For us, it was super interesting seeing all the new futuristic things that pop up around the city. If you’ve never heard of Amazon Go, youtube it! It’s basically a supermarket with absolutely no staff. We are still shook.
If it’s a rubbish day weather wise, you could hit up some of the stores in the retail district. In comparison to Canada, there is nothing really different shopping wise but it is still a sweet downtown area to explore and people watch.
4. Space Needle and Museum of Pop Culture
For sure the biggest attraction in Seattle is the Space needle. On a clear and sunny day it’s a beauty! If you dont to pay to go up the needle, you can still get a cool pic on road level looking up.
Just next door to the Space needle is the Museum of Pop Culture. For around $40 you can walk amongst legit pieces from Hendrix, Rolling Stones, Nirvana, Red Hot Chilli Peppers, and heaps more. The museum was awesome and well worth the trip. Outside the museum we were approached by an aspiring rapper giving out his mixtapes. Iconic.
Seattle is an awesome city and a great spot to travel to from Vancouver. We hope this will help out anyone who is planning a trip!
-Kristina and Cam