May 23, 2024 - Travel

How to avoid Seattle's peak Memorial Day traffic

Illustration of a road sign in the shape of a smiling sun in front of a curving road.

Illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios

Seasoned Seattleites know to leave early or stay late when it comes to avoiding peak holiday weekend traffic, whether traveling by plane, ferry or automobile.

Driving the news: Memorial Day and Labor Day weekends are two of the state's biggest weekends for cross-state holiday travel and that means traffic congestion and delays, according to the Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT).

What to do: Generally, traffic leading away from Seattle is expected to increase from 11am-8pm Friday; while traffic back to the city is expected to peak between 10am-5pm on Sunday and Monday, per WSDOT.

  • The department's traffic guide and charts have more detailed information.
  • Long wait times and cancellations are possible at ferry terminals with ridership expected to swell to more than 350,000 passengers through Monday, per Washington State Ferries.
  • With ongoing construction at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport and an estimated 760,000 travelers expected through Monday, airport officials published information on potential impacts and how to avoid the worst of it.

The big picture: Nationally, nearly 44 million people are expected to travel Memorial Day weekend, the busiest in almost 20 years, according to AAA.

  • 43.8 million people will head 50 miles or more during the unofficial start of summer.
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