Looking for ideas for the perfect Pacific Northwest or Seattle road trips? My sisters and I took a Seattle to Vancouver road trip at the end of March, and spent about five days driving from Seattle to Vancouver. We wanted to enjoy everything these two cities had to offer, but only had five days. Located right off the coast, Seattle, Washington is a popular PNW city. Even though Canada continues to have certain travel restrictions, this blog post includes Seattle travel tips and how to make the most of a Seattle to Canada road trip. Make sure to pin and save this content for later!
Seattle and PNW packing guide
Where to stay along your Seattle and Vancouver road trip
When doing research on where to stay in Seattle, you all know I’m a huge fan of Airbnb. The first step to finding accommodations is choosing what neighborhood you want to stay in. When we traveled to Seattle, our only requirements for a place to stay was one that slept four people comfortably and didn’t break the bank. Check out a few of these Airbnbs below that are reasonably priced with epic views.
Day 1: Fly into Seattle and explore the city
Trying to decide what time of the year you want to visit Seattle? My sisters and I chose to travel in March around spring break week, but I’m not sure if I would choose to travel back during this time. Even though it didn’t seem like the city was flooded with tourists, it was a bit cold in March, and I made sure to bring my winter jacket! Seattle seemed to resemble Boston, where the downtown area doesn’t seem very large but the surrounding residential areas are quite extensive. I wouldn’t say it’s the most walkable city, and definitely is a workout due to how – for lack of a better word – ‘hilly’ it is…so make sure to bring your sneakers, and even if you only have time for a day trip to Seattle or planning a five day itinerary, check out what not to miss when visiting Seattle!
Pick up a rental car and head to Alki Beach Park
Since we were flying in and out of Seattle, we chose to pick up and drop off our rental car at the Seattle airport. After picking up our rental car, we needed to kill some time before checking into our Airbnb. We drove straight to Alki Beach Park. Like I mentioned earlier, March may not have the sunniest weather, and since Seattle experiences more rainfall than most cities in the States. It was sprinkling a bit when we arrived at the beach, but because of this we had the entire beach to ourselves. After spending a bit of time at the beach, we had a late brunch at Cafe Flora. Be forewarned, their baked goods are delicious!
Here’s a rental car tip! Even though it would have been nice to list two drivers on the agreement, we chose to only list myself since it would have cost quite a bit more to list a second.
Take a stroll at the University of Washington
We visited Seattle towards the end of March, and were bummed we just missed cherry blossom season! We lucked out that the rain clouds finally cleared, and enjoyed a walk around the University of Washington’s campus. Make sure to visit the Suzzallo Library. Doesn’t it look straight out of one of the Harry Potter movies?!
For one of the best view of Seattle…
Visit Gas Works Park, you will find a perfect view of the city. Right down the road from this park is the Fremont area and the delicious Theo Chocolate. Before checking into your Airbnb have a drink and warm up at Fremont Brewing Company.
Dinner with a view!
With Seattle’s landscape, you wouldn’t be truly seeing Seattle if not from a rooftop. We chose to make a reservation at Mbar downtown. Please keep in mind this restaurant does close during winter. The food was delicious, and one item we tried was the Lebanese fried romesco with tarator and nigella seed. Sound exotic? According to Rooftop Guide, Mbar is listed as the number one in Seattle, but Terra Plata is another popular rooftop restaurant.
Day 2: Seattle’s Pike Place Market & the Space Needle
Have breakfast at Starbucks Reserve Seattle Roastery
We started the next morning at the Capitol Hill Starbucks Reserve Seattle Roastery. We enjoyed a delicious breakfast and of course a variety of Starbucks coffee, or an alcoholic drink if you would prefer. After breakfast we headed to Pioneer Square.
The Space Needle is a must see
We made our reservations online to visit the Space Needle the day before, accounting for the weather. Recently renovated, there are certain restaurants within the Space Needle you can also make reservations for. The popular Chihuly Garden and Glass is located right next to the Space Needle. They also have valet parking and onsite parking available, but we were able to save a bit of money and found a parking meter nearby.
Keep in mind you can buy a combined ticket for entrances to both the Space Needle and Chihuly Garden, but we chose just to buy tickets for entrance to the Space Needle because of time constraints.
Pike Place Market highlights
A few of the highlights of Pike Place Market I would highly recommend are the Mexican Grocery, Piroshky Piroshky Bakery, Rachel’s Ginger Beer, and the iconic Starbucks store- the first brick and mortar store of the Starbucks empire.
A bit hard to find, Pike Place Market does have a secret, public rooftop garden overlooking the Sound. The views are incredible, overlooking the water and the Seattle Great Wheel.
The Seattle Great Wheel I admit is a bit touristy, but it does have great views of Seattle from the top. Since parking is hard to find at Pike Place Market, most of the surrounding meters have two hour limits. Even though the Seattle Great Wheel is only a ten minute walk from the market, since we had a car with us we decided to move it closer to where we were heading. Since the ferris wheel is right on the water, there isn’t an abundance of metered parking until you drive a few blocks away toward the more residential areas, and we were able to find a metered spot there.
Enjoy sunset at Kerry Park
One of my favorite views of Seattle was from Kerry Park. Since it was a bit too cold for us to enjoy a picnic dinner outside with our goodies from Pike Place Market, we stopped here for sunset. After admiring the view, we headed back to our Airbnb and had dinner there; a great way to save money while traveling!
Keep in mind Kerry Park is small and parking is very limited. The surrounding area is quite residential, so be cautious where you’re parking as most streets are for residents only.
Day 3: Drive to Vancouver, stop at Capilano Bridge
Visit Capilano Suspension Bridge
The next morning we had the most scenic drive to Canada on our Seattle to Vancouver road trip, don’t forget your passport! It only took us about a half hour to cross the border, but I’m sure it might take a bit longer during popular travel times. We headed straight to Capilano Suspension Bridge and spent a few hours exploring the bridge and surrounding living forest and cliffwalk.
It was around a three hour drive from Seattle to Capilano Suspension Bridge, minus border traffic, and we wanted to make sure to arrive as soon as the park opened to avoid the crowds. When researching how to visit Capilano, it is one of many Vancouver suspension bridges, you may want to check out these other options as well.
Visit Lululemon’s first brick and mortar store
We took our time driving to Vancouver after visiting Capilano Bridge, as it started raining. On our way to our Vancouver Airbnb, we stopped at the first ever Lululemon store. My sisters and I are Lululemon lovers for sure, but the original brick and mortar store looks just like most of the others.
Enjoy dinner in Vancouver’s Gastown
Before exploring the city of Vancouver, we checked into our Airbnb, one with free parking! Gastown is known for its culinary experiences, so after relaxing and unpacking a bit we chose to have dinner at the popular Alibi Room.
Day 4: Vancouver’s Seawall and Grouse Mountain
Make reservations for brunch at the Teahouse in Stanley Park
The next morning we planned to drive to Grouse Mountain, and stopped for brunch at the Teahouse in Stanley Park. While in Stanley Park, make sure to visit the Seawall, and spend some time admiring the view.
Ride the Skyride at Grouse Mountain
It’s funny that we didn’t seem to spend too much time in the city of Vancouver itself during our Seattle to Vancouver road trip, but it seems all the hidden gems are located outside the city. Having dinner at The Observatory and taking the Skyride to the top was one of the highlights of our trip! The Skyride is not just for the restaurant but skiiers and snowboarders taking it to the top to enjoy the snow.
Don’t forget to book reservations for the restaurant before visiting. We bought our tickets for the Skyride on the day we visited, and parked in the parking lot right at the base.
Day 5: Drive from Vancouver to Seattle
One of the reasons we chose to fly in and out of Seattle during our Seattle to Vancouver road trip was the convenience of avoiding an international flight. We dropped our rental car off right at the airport, said our goodbyes, and started planning for our next girls trip!