Seattle to Portland Road Trip Guide


Seattle is a lovely city with its parks, coastline, and mountains. It's also a cultural and entertainment hub, so there's always plenty to do. But from time to time it is nice to take the opportunity to explore some of the nearby wonders. A one-day road-trip affords you the perfect chance to do just that.

Portland is well known for being a unique city, and Oregon's largest town lets its freak flag fly. Whatever you're into - whether it's art, music, sports, culture, or outdoor recreation - you'll find it in abundance here. And while the drive from Seattle to Portland may be short, there's plenty that's worth exploring along the way.

Share this road trip guide


Max RV length
Max trailer Length
Road trip length: 1 days
Recommend rig: van
audience: family

Point of Interest

Elmer's Restaurant Tacoma

There is a great deal to see and do today, so you might want to pick up your van early and get straight on the road. Thirty seven miles from Seattle will bring you to Tacoma and this will make a good spot at which to take a break and grab some breakfast.

Elmer's restaurant is a family restaurant that started in 1960. It was opened with the idea of serving fresh seasonal foods made from scratch. The philosophy continues today.

Their signature dish is the buttermilk pancake which still adheres to a recipe purchased from Walter Elmer for $1000 when they first started. Rumor has it that the recipe was so important to Walter that he used to keep it locked in a safe.

Point Defiance Park

From the restaurant, it is a quick eighteen-minute drive to Point Defiance Park which your kids will love you for. Don’t be alarmed though; there is plenty for adults to appreciate there too.

The 760-acre park contains rose and rhododendron gardens, old-growth forest and a pond. Here you will find hiking trails from which you will probably see deer, rabbits, and geese.

There is an aquarium with touch exhibits and enormous glass aquariums large enough to accommodate polar bears and sharks as well as a huge variety of smaller sea creatures. In the kid’s zone playground, your children will be able to explore the manner in which the creatures that they have seen are able to move.

As if that were not enough, there is also a zoo. This is not a one site facility but instead, the animals are housed in different areas of the park. In the red wolf woods, you can see the wolves and their pups going about the lives in a near-natural environment. There are keepers on standby to offer in-depth information.

Hands On Children's Museum

A further thirty-five miles down the road brings you to Olympia where you will find the Hands-on Children's Museum. Opened in 1987, this museum specializes in hands-on activities that allow children to explore different subjects in different ways.

Eight themed galleries cover the subject of arts, science, and nature in a way that will really appeal to the younger members of the family. There is also half an acre of outdoor space where innovative ways have been found to connect children with nature. These include such things as driftwood forts, the raccoon run and a sit-around fire pit for storytelling events.

Hunger may become a bit of an issue by now, but don’t be concerned as there is on onsite café with plenty of easy-to-eat choices using local ingredients.


Portland is Oregon’s largest city and you will need two more hours to get there. After all the activity, it is highly likely that some members of the family will be sound asleep before you get too far down the road. Portland is known for its parks, cycle routes, and many bridges, so you won’t be short of things to do when you reach your final destination.

Share this Road trip guide