How to Travel from Los Angeles to Seattle by Train, Bus, Car, and Plane

how to get from los angeles to seattle

 TripSavvy / Hilary Allison

Seattle—home of the Space Needle, the birthplace of grunge, and the unofficial capital of the Pacific Northwest—is 1,135 miles from Los Angeles. Unfortunately, unlike Dorothy’s green metropolis in The Wizard of Oz, there is no Yellow Brick Road to travel to the real-life Emerald City (FYI, the year-round lushness in and around Seattle inspired its nickname.)

However, there are plenty of transportation options to get from LA to Seattle. Consider the pros and cons of each to decipher which form best suits your travel needs. The fastest option is obviously flying, which typically takes less than three hours and costs around $137 round trip. Flying, too, is the cheapest choice unless you're traveling one way. Booking in advance usually garners additional savings, as does waiting for a sale.

Don't forget a passport if you are planning to head into Canada. It’s a 2.5 hour drive to Vancouver. Many Alaskan cruises that begin in Seattle stop in British Columbia. 

How to Get From Los Angeles to Seattle
  Time Cost Best For
Train 29 hours, 1 minute from $99 Scenic views of the Pacific Ocean and Cascade Range
Plane 2 hours, 25 minutes from $69 Arriving on a time crunch; traveling on a budget
Bus 26 hours, 45 minutes from $120 Eco-conscious travel
Car 17 hours, 26 minutes 1,135 miles (1,837 kilometers) An extended road trip 
Panorama, Skyline, Sunset, Seattle, Washington, America
joe daniel price / Getty Images

What Is the Fastest Way to Get From Los Angeles to Seattle?

Flying is easily the most convenient way to get to Seattle, which means more time on the ground enjoying the destination. The flight time varies, but nonstop flights are usually just shy of three hours. Obviously that does not take into consideration time spent getting to and from airports, delays/cancelations, checking and collecting baggage, or airport security lines, which can be heinous at both Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) and Seattle-Tacoma International Airport AKA SeaTac (SEA) during peak travel times and holidays.

Flying from LA to Seattle is also the cheapest option. Most major carriers—including Delta, United, and American Airlines—service the route at LAX, with nonstop flights usually around $137 round trip. Budget carriers like Southwest, Frontier, and Spirit also head there daily, but don’t offer direct flights and nonsensically often cost more. The best bet is Alaska Airlines as they are based at SEA. LAX is also their hub. The result? There are on average 10 direct flights to Seattle on any given day at more often than not the best price. 

Other regional airports—which tend to service far fewer passengers each day than LAX and therefore offer a more tranquil travel experience—might be good alternative starting points. A couple nonstop Alaska flights take off from Burbank’s airport (BUR) every day, but are regularly $40 to $60 pricier. There’s a host of one-stop flights on Delta, United, and Southwest from there as well. You can also catch a few directs a day from the John Wayne Airport (SNA) in Orange County. They are typically only slightly more expensive than LAX flights.

If you're planning to fly, keep in mind that it can be expensive to change flights and the price can skyrocket for last-minute trips.

How Long Is the Train Ride?

Operating out of the historic Union Station in downtown LA, Amtrak runs Coast Starlight trains to Seattle's King Stret Station in 33 hours, 46 minutes. As you travel by way of Sacramento and Portland, you’ll gaze out at the Pacific Ocean, farm-dotted valleys, lush forests, and the tall peaks of the Cascade Range and Mount Shasta. A coach seat starts around $99 one way, but a premium fare cabin—which is 100 percent refundable prior to departure, and comes with sleeping accommodations and meals—will likely run closer to $600.

Amtrak has a cheaper option, which will get you to Seattle in 29 hours. The fare usually costs between $99 (saver) to $419 (premium), though rates are higher on weekends and during holiday/summer seasons. However, this route is less scenic and involves a LA-to-Bakersfield bus segment. If you prefer the prettier option with a bedroom, you will likely have to book the trip much farther out. 

No matter which ticket you book, all levels come with two free checked bags and WiFi (of course, that’s if the train has service, which some long-haul trains still don’t). If you're looking to save, Amtrak has a free-to-join program that rewards loyalty with chances to earn discounts and free trips. Keep checking their website for upcoming sales and promotions. 

Is There a Bus That Goes From to Los Angeles to Seattle?

If you have more than a day to burn—26 hours and 45 minutes to be exact—taking the Greyhound from the Seventh Street station in downtown Los Angeles to Seattle’s Royal Brougham Way station is an option. The express route has 15 stops—many are 10 minutes or less, meaning that passengers are not allowed to disembark—and usually requires overnight travel. Per person, a one-way ticket costs between $120 and $180, depending on the level of service (economy, economy extra, and flexible). Be careful not to accidentally pick the almost 28-hour-long route with 21 stops as it doesn't save time or money.

You will see more of the three states you pass through than on a plane, but unlike the train, the bus follows a strictly inland route so you won’t see the coast. New buses have WiFi, extra legroom, no dreaded middle seat, and a free checked bag. Greyhound claims traveling by bus is better for the environment than all motorized forms of transportation thanks to low-sulfur fuel, idle management systems, and diesel particulate filters. Free movies, TV, and games are available through the onboard entertainment system, which is currently on 71 percent of the fleet.

How Long Does It Take to Drive?

The most direct route is 1,135 miles through three states via the I-5; it takes more than 17 hours, depending on how often you stop or whether you overnight somewhere. Traffic in the major metropolitan areas can also add significant time to the journey.

But a road trip can be a fairly economical choice, especially if you don’t need to rent a car or if you have a large group. It also buys travelers freedom. Unlike buses and trains, you call the shots. Stop when and where you want. Eat where you want. Grab a hotel and sleep in a real bed. Take detours and check extra adventures off the life list. The most common route, Interstate 5, takes drivers straight through Sacramento, Ashland (home of a fantastic Shakespeare festival), and foodie hotspot Portland. It also gets folks very close to Crater Lake National Park and multiple national forests, including Olympic, Mt. Hood, Lassen, and Klamath.

Can I Use Public Transportation to Travel From the Airport?

As far as public transit goes, you have a few different options. You can take Sound Transit's Link Light Rail, which goes north to Westlake Center in downtown Seattle.

Sound Transit and King County Metro Transit buses serve SeaTac airport as well, and can each get you to downtown Seattle in about 45 minutes. You can pay in either cash or with an ORCA card. Pick up the Sound Transit express bus outside baggage claim, or the King County bus on International Boulevard. Check out our guide to public transportation in Seattle to learn more.

What Is There to Do in Seattle?

According to Visit Seattle, more than 40 million visitors flock to the Queen City of the Pacific Northwest annually. They go for super-fresh seafood, a vast craft beer and local spirits scene, endless outdoor activities, and cultural attractions like the Space Needle, Chihuly Garden and Glass, Pike Place Market, and MoPop. More itinerary-filling ideas can be found in our complete guide to the city