As I mentioned, back in April, Phillip and I hopped on the Amtrak Cascades, a train route that spans the entire Pacific Northwest coast, all the way into the lower mainland of Canada. We boarded in Seattle and detrained in Bellingham just in time for Easter breakfast, a two-hour journey. Though, if you’ve got a bit more time and a passport handy, you could ride the train in its entirety from Eugene, Oregon to Vancouver, British Columbia. I can assure you it is a beautiful way to travel.
That being said, if time is of the essence, I have heard that the most scenic passage is between Seattle and Bellingham, as it offers the most extensive view of the Puget Sound. At times, the tracks run right along the shore for unobstructed visibility that is second to none. The morning of our trip started out a bit gray and overcast – as typical as any day in April in the North West, but that only served to authenticate the experience for me. I had been raring to ride the rails for months! Not to mention, a dreary early-morning often means a sunny late-morning in the PNW. Good news for us!
In a blink of an eye, we’d pulled out of Seattle’s King Street Station in the International District and found ourselves chugging past the sprawling and industrial city of Everett, before cruising further north into lush, verdant Skagit County, already a favorite Washington locale of mine. The Cascades’ path parallels Interstate 5, a road we know all too well after countless jaunts up to Bellingham, so we were pleased with our new westwardly vantage point, as well as the comfort of traveling by train (coffee in the bistro car, oh but of course).
But the real draw is its Puget Sound views, and there is no shortage of crashing waves, ragged coves, rocky shores, and piney, wooded islands. It is a spectacular tour of what makes this part of the country so special and I would recommend it to visitors to the area and locals alike – after all, I lived in Seattle for four years prior to booking my ticket!
Here are a couple of tips for making the most of your ride on the Amtrak Cascades:
1. Run straight to the bistro car to be first in line for coffee and to grab a seat at one of its booths or its counter of outward-facing stools. If everyone gets a window seat, then everyone wins!
2. Buy your ticket in advance. This is particularly important in the summer, when tourists opt to spend the day on the train as an attraction in and of itself. Additionally, Amtrak rewards the forward-thinking by frequently offering discounts on trips booked two or more weeks out.
3. Finally, though it goes without saying, if you’re traveling on Easter, do be sure to stuff your bag full of jelly bean-filled plastic eggs in a variety of pastel colors. Obviously.