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Amtrak, the U.S. passenger-rail system, has daily service to Seattle from the Midwest and California. The Empire Builder takes a northern route from Chicago to Seattle, with a stop in St. Paul. The Coast Starlight begins in Southern California, makes stops throughout western Oregon and Washington, including Portland, and terminates its route in Seattle. The Cascades travels from Eugene, Oregon, up to Vancouver, British Columbia, with several stops in between. If you want to spend a day or two in Portland, taking the train down instead of driving is a great way to do so. It's fast and comfortable, and the Amtrak station in Portland is centrally located. Sit on the left side of the train on the way down for stunning views of Mt. Rainier. All Amtrak trains to and from Seattle pull into King Street Station off of S. Jackson Street in the International District.
Trains to and from Seattle have regular and business-class compartments. Cars with private bedrooms are available for multiday trips (such as to Chicago), while business-class cars provide more legroom, quieter cars, and complimentary newspapers. Reservations are necessary (you can book up to 11 months in advance), and major credit cards are accepted.
Sounder Trains, run by Sound Transit, run between Seattle and Everett and Seattle and Lakewood and travel only during peak hours on weekdays. Trains leave Lakewood about every half hour between 4:42 am and 8 am, and then twice in the evening rush hour, with stops in Tacoma, Puyallup, Sumner, Auburn, Kent, and Tukwila prior to Seattle. Southbound trains leave Seattle twice during early morning rush hour and then every half hour between 3:15 and 6:15 pm. Sounder Trains from Everett have four morning departure times between 5:45 and 7:15 am, stopping in Mukilteo and Edmonds, and offers four return trips from Seattle between 4:05 and 5:35 pm. (Note that there is daily Amtrak service from most of these cities, offering more departure times.)
Fares are based on distance traveled, starting at $2.75 and running up to $4.75 for the Seattle-to-Tacoma trip; youth, senior citizens, and the disabled receive a discounted fare, and kids under 6 ride free. Tickets can be purchased at machines inside the stations before you board, or you can use your ORCA card.
Amtrak (800/872–7245 or 206/382–4125. www.amtrak.com.)
Sound Transit (888/889–6368 or 206/398–5000. www.soundtransit.org.)