How to Travel From Chicago to Seattle by Train, Bus, Car, and Plane

Skyline of Seattle Washington USA
© Allard Schager / Getty Images

Seattle’s Space Needle, Pike Place Market, and Chihuly Garden and Glass are 2,110 road miles away from Chicago. To get from the Windy City to the Emerald City, you can drive, take a bus or train, or fly. The speediest and most cost effective way to get from one city to the other is to fly from either of Chicago’s international airports, O’Hare or Midway; however, train lovers should know that there’s a direct route from Chicago’s Union Station to Seattle’s King Street Station.

How to Get From Chicago to Seattle
   Time Cost Best For
 Train  46 hours, 10 minutes $190–$280 Slower travel, avoiding airplanes
 Bus  47 hours, 30 minutes $224–$425 Slower travel, flexibility
 Car 32 hours, 10 minutes $200–$300 Travel at will, explore local areas
Plane 4 hours, 45 minutes  $90–$600 Speedy arrival

What Is the Cheapest Way to Get From Chicago to Seattle?

The cheapest way to get from Chicago to Seattle is to fly from either Chicago O’Hare International Airport (ORD) or Midway International Airport (MDW) to the Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (SEA). Southwest Airlines and Delta Air Lines operate flights between the two cities every three hours. You can also choose to fly with Alaska, United, or American Airlines.

The route from these two cities is a popular one, which means that you can often find great deals on airfare. Pay attention to extra costs that you may incur for baggage or food. Flights may increase in price during special holidays or during the summer months when travel is at a peak.

What Is the Fastest Way to Get From Chicago to Seattle?

The fastest—and most convenient—way to get from Chicago to Seattle is through a direct flight, which will take about 4 hours and 45 minutes. Other flights, with layovers, will bring the travel time up to 6 hours and 39 minutes. Both options are quicker than driving or taking the train or bus. Keep in mind, however, that you’ll have to add extra time for getting to and from the airports, checking luggage, clearing security, and dining or shopping.

How Long Does It Take to Drive?

You can expect to be behind the wheel for 32 hours and 10 minutes to drive 2,110 miles from one city to the other. Having your own vehicle allows you to travel at your own pace, stop at your leisure, and have flexibility upon arrival into Seattle. Keep in mind that you’ll have to factor in the cost of gas, overnight accommodations, and food along the way. Parking in Seattle is also something you’ll have to think about in terms of cost and availability.

How Long Is the Flight?

If you fly from Chicago Midway Airport or Chicago O’Hare International Airport to Seattle’s airport on a direct flight, you can expect to be in the air for 4 hours and 45 minutes. Flights with connections will take about 6 hours and 39 minutes.

How Long Is the Train Ride?

Amtrak operates a train route from Chicago’s Union State to Seattle’s King Street Station two times per day. You’ll have to be prepared for the duration as the train ride will take you 46 hours and 30 minutes to reach your destination.

Is There a Bus That Goes From Chicago to Seattle?

No direct buses travel from Chicago to Seattle, however, there are routes that will work with a connection in Minneapolis, Minnesota, or Missoula, Montana. Including transfers, it will take about 47 hours and 30 minutes to reach your destination.

When Is the Best Time to Travel to Seattle?

Summer is the best time to visit Seattle; however, popular and prices for transportation—as well as hotels, dining, and activities—are often higher. Winter is chilly, often resting in the mid 40 degrees-Fahrenheit range, necessitating extra planning for getting from point A to point B. Bring layers when traveling in the spring and fall, the shoulder seasons, in case there’s a drop in temperature or inclement weather.

What’s the Most Scenic Route to Seattle?

There are a couple of options, driving on I-90 and I-94, either going through North Dakota or South Dakota as you travel west. I-90 will take you north through Wisconsin, Minnesota, and North Dakota before meeting up with I-94 in Billings, Montana. I-94 will take you through Iowa and South Dakota before traveling through Billings, Montana.

Driving through North Dakota will give you the chance to visit Theodore Roosevelt National Park. Driving through South Dakota will afford you the opportunity to visit Mount Rushmore National Memorial, Crazy Horse Memorial, Badlands National Park, and Wind Cave National Park.

What Time Is It in Seattle?

Seattle is in Pacific Standard Time while Chicago is in Central Standard Time. Chicago is two hours ahead of Seattle. If it’s 1 p.m. in Seattle, it’s 3 p.m. in Chicago.

Can I Use Public Transportation to Travel From the Airport?

Seattle’s Sound Transit’s Link Light Rail travels from the airport to downtown Seattle, making stops along the way, every six to 15 minutes depending on the time of day. You can expect to travel 40 minutes from the Seattle-Tacoma International Airport to the Westlake Station in downtown Seattle.

Many hotels provide a courtesy shuttle to and from the airport. The Shuttle Express Downtown Airporter transports passengers to downtown Seattle hotels for $20 per person.

The King County Metro Transit provides bus service in downtown Seattle as well as the surrounding suburbs. Seattle Street Cars are also a fun way to get around the city; the two lines, South Lake Union and First Hill, have several stops throughout the city. Ride shares, rental cars, and taxis are also available.

What Is There to Do in Seattle?

The Pacific Northwest is a fun destination to explore, and Seattle, situated on Puget Sound, is a hot spot for art, culture, and access to nature. To save money, get a Seattle CityPASS and visit the top sites: Museum of Pop Culture (MoPop), Seattle Aquarium, Woodland Park Zoo, Space Needle, and Chihuly Garden and Glass.

Great parks, hikes, and green spaces include Rattlesnake Ledge, Fremont Troll, Seattle Waterfront, Volunteer Park, Golden Gardens, Olympic Sculpture Park, and Snoqualmie Falls. Stay at Hotel Max, located in the heart of the city, with a variety of room configurations that will accommodate singles, couples, and families.

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