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How to ride transit to the Washington State Fair from Seattle

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You can do it at a trot, you can do it at a gallop, you can do it on a Sounder train

Chris Sawtelle/Flickr

It’s nearly Labor Day Weekend, so time for the Washington State Fair to get started. The fair kicks off this Friday, September 1, and runs nearly all month long through September 24, with rides, music, and, of course, delicious, delicious scones.

But for those who want to do the Puyallup but don’t have a car—or don’t want to deal with driving—it’s a little trickier.

Depending on where you’re coming from and what day you’re going, the route’s going to vary, but we’ve detailed a few options for getting to the fair below.

Thankfully, public transportation options have improved a bit in recent years, with shuttle buses and even extra commuter rail trips.

Getting to the Washington State Fair from Seattle

From Seattle, you have a few options for a car-less trip to the Puyallup Fair—and which option you take depends on how much time you have on your hands and what day it is.

One option that runs every day: Sound Transit Route 578, which takes roughly an hour and a half from Downtown Seattle to the Puyallup Station, which is a 20-minute walk or so from the fairgrounds.

It’s a long trip, but a versatile option. It leaves as early as 5 a.m. on weekdays, making return trips until 9 p.m. On weekends, it first leaves Seattle at 8 a.m., making its last trip out of Puyallup at 8 p.m.

Fares vary depending on who you are and where you’re traveling from, but standard, adult fare from Seattle to Puyallup on a Sound Transit express bus would be $3.75.

A shorter, but less versatile way to get down there: The Sounder train. What’s normally a weekday commuter train is gaining two special Saturday trips southbound to Puyallup from Seattle (and as far north as Everett): September 16 and 23.

Those trains make three morning runs out of Seattle at 9:50, 10:50, and 11:50 a.m. (full schedule here) to the Puyallup station, where a shuttle bus can take visitors straight to the fair. Both those days have just two return trips at 5:50 and 6:50 p.m. from the Puyallup station.

That trip is shorter—about 45 minutes from Seattle—and can take visitors between Everett and Sumner to the fair. But fairgoers have to be willing to stick to the train’s schedule—or at least be willing to catch a 578 back.

Standard adult fare from Seattle to Puyallup on the Sounder train is $4.75. A train ticket can be purchased in advance with a fair ticket.

(Note: A trip to the fair doesn’t work on the Sounder’s normal, weekday schedule, unless you’re planning on spending a night in Puyallup—designed for Downtown Seattle commuters, it makes trips north to Seattle in the morning and south to Puyallup, Tacoma, and Lakewood in the evening.)

Getting to the Washington State Fair from Tacoma

Tacoma is way closer to Puyallup than Seattle is, so there are way better options here, including a special express bus service running every day the Fair is open (read: not Tuesdays, not September 6) from September 1 through 24.

Park-and-ride service from Pierce Transit runs from the Tacoma Mall, Lakewood Towne Center, and South Hill Mall on weekdays starting at 10 a.m., with the last train leaving the Fair at 10 p.m. (or 11 p.m. on Fridays). On weekends, shuttles run starting at 9 a.m., and return until 11 p.m. on Saturdays and 10 p.m. Sundays.

The full schedule is here; one-way, standard adult fare is $2 (or $5 for an all-day pass).

Other Pierce Transit buses that serve the Fair from Tacoma include the 4, the 400, the 402, the 409, and 425.