The cities of Vancouver, B.C. and Seattle might be just 143 miles apart, but the distance between them rolls out myriad possibilities for seeing sights from land, air or water. Whichever way you decide to go, bring proper identification to cross the international border such as a passport, passport card, enhanced driver's license or trusted traveler document like a Nexus card. Have the receipts for any merchandise purchased while in Canada readily available when crossing the border.
Drive at Your Own Pace
Driving from Vancouver to Seattle takes about 3.5 hours along the most direct route, Interstate 5. Have the necessary papers in order before crossing the border into the U.S. Besides valid travel ID, bring a valid driver's license, vehicle registration and proof of insurance.
If your itinerary allows for a little sightseeing along the way, take a scenic route. Although there is no one highway that runs the length of the coast, there are byways accessible just south of the international border by exiting on Route 548 which heads into the Birch Bay area. Marvel at stretches of scenic coastline, splash away summer heat at local waterslides or stop and smell the wildflowers in Deception Pass.
Take a Scenic Ride on Amtrak Cascades
Settle back in a reclining seat and watch the scenery out the window as you enjoy the ride between Vancouver's Pacific Central Station and the Seattle King Street Station. Disembark near SAFECO Field and the Seattle historic district with convenient access to the Space Needle and other prime Seattle sights. The European-style cars feature a bistro car where you can treat your taste buds to Seattle's famous coffee's, microbrews and local cuisine.
Travel Cheaply by Bus
Several buses travel from Vancouver to Seattle with fares ranging from $25 to $50. The trip takes a bit longer – about 4.5 to 5 hours, but you can settle back in your seat, enjoy the ride and take advantage of free Wi-Fi onboard. The bus stops at several cities along the way but don't get off and sightsee; the stops are 5 to 10 minutes to load and disembark passengers. Greyhound, Bolt Bus and Quick Shuttle all service the route. BoltBus has at least one $1 fare for each trip which is sold at random when tickets first go on sale. Quick Shuttle offers complimentary service to major hotels.
Take a Couple of Ferries
Although there's no direct ferry service to Seattle from Vancouver, travel to the Emerald City on the water with a stopover in Victoria. BC Ferries has ferry service throughout the day between Vancouver and Victoria for both passengers on foot or driving a vehicle. The trip takes 1 hour and 35 minutes to cross the 24-nautical-mile distance. Clipper Vacations' Seattle to Victoria passenger-only ferry zips down to the Seattle Ferry Terminal in 2 hours and 45 minutes. To make the trip with a car by ferry, catch the Washington State Ferry at Sidney on Vancouver Island. The journey ends at Anacortes 80 miles north of Seattle after traveling through the scenic San Juan Islands.
Get There Quickly by Air
Although there are plenty of flights leaving from Seattle's Sea-Tac airport (SEA) headed for Vancouver (YVR), it's not the most time-effective way to get from Vancouver to Seattle if you consider checking in at the airport early, going through U.S. Customs and Border Protection preclearance, and waiting around for the flight to board. Use the time to take a ferry over to Victoria and book a seaplane flight with Kenmore Air for about the same price you'd pay to fly on a jet. The floatplanes carry six to 10 passengers, who are generally the only other people you'll be in line with as you breeze through U.S. border formalities at the dock. The flight lands at Lake Union with connector transportation to Sea-Tac airport.