By the time we finished our PNW trip, Lee and I realized we had taken pretty much every form of transportation available – foot, car, plane, train, boat, and light rail (like a metro). But by far our favorite mode of getting from point A to point B was our afternoon on the Amtrak Cascades train from Seattle to Portland.
A while back when I was planning this trip, we knew we wanted to visit both Seattle and Portland so initially we were going to rent a car in Seattle and make the 3 hour drive down to Portland, but I ended up coming across someone’s review of their train journey taking the same route and our decision to avoid the drive and take the train was all but confirmed.
Beyond metros and subway systems, I don’t remember ever taking a train trip (mom, did we ever do a New England trip on a train?) so I was honestly a bit skeptical about the whole process. Here in the Southeast train travel isn’t a common method of transportation, but I was blown away by the whole process and will now be voting to bring high-speed trains to connect all of America.
I honestly do not know if you’re interested in our travel process, but I’m going to write it down so I don’t forget for the next time we take a trip like this! Feel free to ask any questions in the comments or DM me on Instagram if you have a question I didn’t answer!
We started by taking Seattle’s Light Link Rail from our hotel down 3 stops to the International Station (Chinatown). It’s an easy and cheap way to get around the city if you don’t want to walk with luggage. From there Seattle’s King Street Station was right around the corner (literally just a few feet away) and that’s where we were picking up our train to head south.
We got to the station about an hour earlier than our 11:30 am train which is what they recommend if you have to check your luggage in. We had a large suitcase each and a personal item each but the amazing thing is they allow 2 free checked pieces of luggage per passenger so you don’t have to worry about paying extra for your luggage.
Once we gave them our luggage we had about 50 minutes to explore the station. It has a beautiful history and the city has done a marvelous job of restoring it to its former glory – complete with the wooden benches in the waiting room, marble stairs, and a beautiful, tiled ceiling. From what I understand lots of Seattle brides even take wedding photos there.
We took the opportunity to take loads of photos in the place (as we do) and had a few minutes to spare before our train pulled into the station. Once the passengers unloaded we were escorted to the platform and our train car. We opted for just Coach class but you could upgrade to Business Class if you wanted more room. But the beauty of it all was the ease of the process. No lines or security. No time crunch, no nasty gate benches to wait at… it was oh so easy to just hop aboard the Amtrak Cascades and ride it through a beautiful part of the country.
Our only mistake was not grabbing snacks before boarding. Of course, used to the strict food policy in airports, we didn’t even think we could bring our own snacks aboard so by the time we pulled into Portland at 3:15ish we were starving!
The ride itself was pleasant. The train’s wi-fi was a little spotty but I was content to watch the scenery unfold and Lee put on a podcast and promptly fell asleep. We arrived into Portland’s Union Station in good time and only had to wait a few minutes for our bags to get unloaded before we walked out front to meet our Lyft driver that would take us the few blocks to our hotel.
10/10 would recommend a trip on the Amtrack Cascades train. It has a very consistent schedule and runs from Canada all the way to the middle of Oregon.