Driving from San Francisco to Seattle requires a fair bit of planning – no matter which itinerary you take, the trip will be quite long, and you"ll be stopping very frequently to check out all the beautiful places along the way.

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The road trip from San Francisco to Seattle can be done in 12 hours without stopping. Check out Sacramento, Portland, and a network of beautiful forests, or drive along the Pacific Coast to see the beautiful ocean side towns and West Coast beaches.

The list of beautiful stops is virtually endless, so keep reading to make sure you don"t miss a thing!

How far is Seattle from San Francisco and how long will the road trip take?

The trip from San Francisco to Seattle can span 810 to 980 miles depending on your route of choice. Taking the quicker route can get you there in about 12 hours without stops or major traffic, and while the more scenic route is harder to predict, a good estimate would be over 20 hours.

RouteDistanceDriving Time
Fastest Route (via I-5)810 miles12 hours
Pacific Highway Route (via Highways 1 & 101)940 miles20 hours 30 minutes

The trip would definitely take at least 2 days no matter which route you choose, but taking the I-5 past Sacramento and through Portland is by far the fastest way to get to Seattle.

On top of being quicker, this route will have you driving by a number of beautiful forests. However, if you"re only taking 2 days to travel, you"ll have to stop in a smaller town overnight as Sacramento and Portland are both quite far from the midpoint of the route.

If you happen to have a week or two to spare, consider driving on Highways 1 and 101 along the Pacific Coastline for one of the most scenic road trips of your life.

While it"s possible to get to Seattle in two or three days along this route, the coast"s winding roads can significantly impede your travel speed if coupled with bad weather. Besides, with so many amazing places to see, rushing through it would be missing the point entirely.

Best road trip route from San Francisco to Seattle

When driving from San Francisco to Seattle, the best route generally depends on whether you"re aiming for speed or ocean scenery. This is the kind of trip you can wrap up in two days or take several weeks to explore everything along the way.

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Enjoy this scenic view at Highway 1 on Pacific Coast, California on your way to Seattle from San Francisco
If you plan on driving along the Pacific, you"re better off avoiding traveling on hot summer mornings - this is when coastal fog tends to set in, potentially making the already-zigzaggy roads harder to traverse. This isn"t necessarily a deal-breaker, though, as this fog usually clears up by midday.

Besides Sacramento and Portland, the fast route"s main draws are its many forests. These look amazing no matter the season, but you can expect certain roads to be closed during particularly harsh, snowy winters.

As for Seattle itself, the city averages around 18 rainy days a month thanks to its ‘rain season", from November to January. If this isn"t something you"re accustomed to, it can make exploring the city more difficult than it has to be.

Because of all the rain in the colder months, Seattle"s weather is actually very pleasant from mid-spring to early fall – temperatures in the summer seldom exceed the low-to-mid 70s, and the months of May and September aren"t far off either.


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