Take a Cross-Border Vacation from Seattle to Vancouver

Explore two thriving cities in the picturesque Pacific Northwest and collect a new passport stamp on an unforgettable vacation that will take you — literally — beyond the border. Start your sojourn in art- and culture-packed Seattle and then cruise along the coast to Vancouver, Canada. The cross-border drive time from Seattle to Vancouver is more than worth the trek for wondrous water views, astonishing attractions and delicious dining options.

Discover how easy it is to see more of North America with our guide to visiting two exciting metropolises during just one memorable (and international) trip.

Journey to Seattle


Getting There

Set up home base in Seattle by flying into Seattle-Tacoma International Airport and driving about 13 miles north to downtown.

What to See and Do in Seattle

Start your journey through the Emerald City by driving to the Space Needle for a bird’s-eye view of Seattle 500 feet below through the world’s only rotating glass floor — part of a recently completed $100 million “space-lift” on the beloved landmark. Next door, discover the Chihuly Garden & Glass exhibit, where you can explore breathtaking displays of botanicals and glass sculptures. Tucked in the center of the city, this unique indoor-outdoor setting features eight galleries, a lush garden and the centerpiece Glasshouse.

Admire the reds, yellows and oranges that come together in this 100-foot-long design — one of glass sculptor Dale Chihuly’s biggest suspended pieces — at the Glasshouse in Seattle. Photo courtesy of Rob Bertholf, Flickr.

Art lovers will also enjoy driving past the SoDo Track wall murals, only a couple of miles south of downtown. This must-see mural monument features a 2-mile-long series of themed graffiti pieces created by artists from around the world.

Before heading to Canada, consider adding kite flying in Gas Works Park and other family-friendly Seattle sights  to your itinerary, including Woodland Park Zoo, Pike Place Market and The Museum of Flight. Then, venture north about 125 miles on Interstate 5 to the border for the Canadian leg of your vacation.

Where to Stay

Stay in the heart of the city at Hotel Theodore, a newly updated boutique hotel with a vintage vibe, nodding to its historic namesake (originally opened as the Roosevelt Hotel in 1930). Bonus: Cars stay free, and guests enjoy complimentary valet parking.

Where to Eat

Enjoy a piping-hot bowl of ramen noodles washed down with an ice-cold beer and some friendly conversation at Kiki Ramen, a mile north of downtown. For travelers planning to arrive in the evening, book a dinner table at the swanky Rider restaurant for your first night. Located in Hotel Theodore, Rider offers upscale ocean- and forest-to-table dishes that range from locally sourced salads to fresh, sky-high seafood towers to grass-fed grilled meats.

Venture to Vancouver


Getting Across the Border to Vancouver

Save time and avoid long lines by skipping the main Peace Arch border crossing into Canada and opting for the shorter Sumas crossing slightly farther east. From I-5 North, take exit 255 for State Route 542 East toward Mount Baker to reach the Sumas border point, located about 110 miles northeast of downtown Seattle. After you’ve collected a Canadian passport stamp from border agents, continue driving about 60 miles northwest to Vancouver.

What to See and Do

Stroll along the seawall in Stanley Park — Vancouver’s urban oasis located steps from downtown — and take in views of the water, towering trees and nearby mountains. For another outdoor excursion, drive to Queen Elizabeth Park, home to the highest point in Vancouver, for phenomenal city views. Stretching almost 130 acres, Queen Elizabeth Park features a scenic quarry garden, sculptures by Henry Moore and recreational activities like lawn bowling, tennis and pitch-and-putt golf. Park for free along the park’s edges or in paid lots near the center of the park by the Bloedel Conservatory, where you can discover more than 100 exotic birds of various species and 500 types of plants and flowers.

Enjoy all that Vancouver’s lovely Stanley Park has to offer, including a stroll along its serpentine seawall, with this digital map that pinpoints trails, parking and activities.

Take a scenic boat ride on the Aquabus from Plaza of Nations (just south of downtown) to Granville Island. Amid views of False Creek and the surrounding cityscape, you can explore a variety of shops, from fantasy-themed Dragonspace to Granville Island Treasures, offering Canadian First Nations art, jewelry, crafts and clothes.

Where to Stay

Stay in Vancouver’s bustling Parq Vancouver, an entertainment hub downtown that features two high-end hotels: the JW Marriott and The Douglas, plus eight restaurants and lounges and a casino, all within walking distance of Vancouver’s downtown shopping district. Alternatively, stay nearby at the Hampton Inn & Suites by Hilton Vancouver-Downtown, which offers complimentary breakfast and bicycle rentals so guests can explore the city.

What to Eat

For Canadian cuisine served up in casual elegance, head to AnnaLena. From downtown, drive about 2 miles southwest and get ready to savor dishes like bison tartare. Prefer to stay closer to downtown? Try the bone marrow cheesy bread at the Flying Pig. On Granville Island, brunch at Edible Canada, or opt for a tasty seafood dinner with a view at The Sandbar. Bon appetit!

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About the Author

Bianca Bujan is a born-and-raised Vancouverite, the assistant editor for WestCoast Families magazine and a freelance travel writer for print and online publications including Canadian Traveller, BCLiving, USA Today and trivago Magazine. You can follow her adventures in travel, family and food through her blog and on Instagram and Twitter.