- This article is an itinerary.
Interstate 5 (I-5) is a United States interstate highway that starts at the border with Mexico in San Ysidro, California and runs 1381 miles (2223 km) north through the states of California, Oregon and Washington to the border with Canada in Blaine, Washington. It serves as an important north-south transportation corridor along the U.S west coast connecting the major cities of San Diego, Los Angeles, Portland, Tacoma and Seattle; the three state capitals of California (Sacramento), Oregon (Salem) and Washington (Olympia); and two additional major cities in neighboring countries (Tijuana & Vancouver) just over the international borders.
Interstate 5 (I-5) replaces the former US Route 99, a north-south route along the west coast. The original U.S. Highway 99 was also known as Pacific Highway which ran 1600 mi (2600 km) south from Cache Creek BC through Vancouver, Washington state, Oregon and California and then became Mexico Federal Highway 5 in Calexico/Mexicali. Today I-5 ends at the U.S./Mexican border in San Ysidro where it continues another 1,063 mi (1,711 km) from Tijuana to Cabo San Lucas, through the Baja California peninsula as Mexico Federal Highway 1/1D. Segments of the old Hwy 99 have been re-numbered as State or Provincial Route 99 (SR-99) in British Columbia, Washington, Oregon and California. Other segments in Washington state have also have been renumbered as SR-11, SR-529 and SR-530; as SR-99E & SR-99W between north Portland and Junction City in Oregon; and SR-111 & SR-86 between Calexico and Palm Desert in California. Some segments of the old Hwy 99 have also been decommissioned altogether as federal and state highways (not numbered) but are still represented by being named "Old Hwy 99" or "Pacific Highway".
There are no toll segments on the "Freeway".
You'll obviously need to bring a vehicle, but there is nothing really necessary for the route unless you want to eat your own food or you're coming from another country, in which case you might need passports, for example, to get in.
Interstate 5 continues north as BC-Hwy 99 to Cache Creek through Vancouver, the Sunshine Coast and Whistler from the Canadian/U.S. border in Blaine, Washington, and south to Cabo San Lucas through Tijuana and Ensenada in the Baja California Peninsula as Mexico Federal Hwy 1 from the U.S./Mexican border in San Ysidro, California. I-5 intersects other major US interstate highways diverging to/from different directions such as I-15 and I-8 in San Diego; I-10 in Los Angeles; I-80 in Sacramento; I-84 in Portland; I-90 in Seattle and various three digit interstates (serving as local auxiliary highways), state and U.S highways in the three states it passes through.
- See also: Air travel in the United States
The Interstate 5 corridor can be accessed by plane through San Diego, Santa Ana, Burbank, Sacramento, Medford, Portland, Seattle and Bellingham with airports next to or near the freeway. In other cities, such as Los Angeles and Long Beach the airport can be further away (20-40 mi/32-64 km) away from the I-5 corridor on another highway.
- See also: Rail travel in the United States
Amtrak operates trains "more or less" along the Intestate 5 corridor serving the major west coast cities. Some segments are further away such as the segment from Emeryville to Oxnard in California while other parts of the route are practically next to the freeway such as the segment between Longview and Centralia in Washington state. The following routes operate along the I-5 corridor:
- Amtrak Coast Starlight runs once daily between Los Angeles and Seattle via Portland, Klamath Falls, Redding, Sacramento, San Francisco Bay Area, Salinas, Paso Robles, San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara, Oxnard, Simi Valley and Van Nuys. It runs parallel with the Cascades between Seattle and Eugene with the same stops (except Tukwila, Vancouver, Washington, and Oregon City) and between San Luis Obispo and Los Angeles with the Pacific Surfliner only with fewer stops. (see below)
- Amtrak Cascades runs between Seattle and Portland four times daily serving Tukwila, Tacoma, Lacey (Olympia), Centralia and Kelso in Washington state. They run from Seattle to Vancouver via Everett, Stanwood, Mt Vernon & Bellingham twice daily and from Portland to Eugene via Oregon City, Salem & Albany twice daily. Additional service from Seattle to Vancouver and from Portland to Eugene are provided on the Amtrak Thruway Bus.
- Pacific Surfliner San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara, Oxnard, Los Angeles & San Diego. The segment of this route closest or parallel to the I-5 corridor is between Simi Valley and San Diego. Passengers continue south towards the Mexican border in San Ysidro on the SDMTS 'UC San Diego Blue Line' Trolley from the American Plaza Station, across the street the Santa Fe Station.
- San Joaquins Sacramento, Merced, Stockton, Fresno and Bakersfield. Some trains on this route will go west towards Emeryville and Oakland from Stockton instead of continuing north to Sacramento. This route is then connected to Los Angeles from Bakersfield and from Stockton & Sacramento to Redding by Thruway buses via I-5.
There are several bus companies operating buses along the I-5 corridor with Greyhound serving the entire length while others operate buses along certain sections of the I-5 corridor in the Pacific Northwest (Oregon or Washington) or California to make the trip possible without a car:
- Greyhound Lines, toll-free: . Travels along the entire I-5 corridor between Tijuana, San Diego, Los Angeles, Sacramento, Portland, Seattle,Vancouver BC and several smaller cities/towns in between each of the above cities. Some of their schedules run contiguously between Seattle and Los Angeles while others break up the trip in Sacramento and/or Portland, requiring a longer layover or transfer. Cruceros USA is their cross-border shuttle connecting Tijuana with San Diego, Santa Ana and/or Los Angeles.
- BellAir Airporter, toll-free: . Goes up from SeaTac & downtown Seattle to Stanwood, Burlington/Mt Vernon, Bellingham & Blaine on one route and a separate route to Anacortes and the San Juan ferry terminal from Burlington.
- Bolt Bus, toll-free: . They serve the cities along the I-5 corridor between Vancouver, BC and Eugene, Oregon (via Bellingham, Seattle, Portland and Albany) in the Pacific Northwest. The other Bolt Bus route goes along I-5 or US Hwy 101 from Los Angeles and N Hollywood to the SF Bay area (San Jose, San Francisco & Oakland)
- Cantrail & Amtrak Cascades Thruway Bus, (bus stops) Seattle's King Street Station & Vancouver's Pacific Station. Additional stops at Sandmans Signature Hotel and Pacific Inn in Surrey. No additional stops in the U.S., toll-free: . Operates direct express buses between Seattle and Vancouver, BC $40 for one-way, $75 round trip; discounts for students, military, seniors & children ages 4-11..
- Flixbus, ☎ . Travels between San Francisco Bay Area, Sacramento, Los Angeles, Anaheim, San Diego and several cities in the San Joaquin Valley along the I-5 corridor.
- Hoang Express, ☎ , toll-free: . Travels between SoCal (San Diego, El Monte, Los Angeles, Westminster) and Sacramento along the I-5 corridor. $60-65 to Bay Area; $80 to Sacramento.
- International Bus Lines (formerly Intercalifornias), toll-free: . Buses goes up from Tijuana to San Ysidro, Santa Ana, Los Angeles San Fernando, Bakersfield, Fresno, and San Jose/Stockton (route splits/joins in Madero) along the I-5/CA-99 corridor. Prices vary depending on your destination.
- Oregon Point-Cascade Point Line & Amtrak Cascades Thruway Bus, ☎ . Bus operated by MTR Western between Portland, Woodburn, Salem, Albany & Eugene. Some of their buses divert through Oregon City between Portland & Woodburn.
- Quick Shuttle, toll-free: . Runs between Seattle and Vancouver, BC. Stops in Downtown Seattle (outside the Best Western at 200 Taylor Ave N) and SeaTac Airport (at the main terminal near south end of baggage claim, outside door 00, bays 11-16. Provides affordable and reliable transportation from Seatac Airport, Downtown Seattle, Bellingham Airport to Vancouver Airport, Downtown Vancouver and Cruise Ship Terminals. Fares from Vancouver to Downtown Seattle are round-trip; $36 one-way, $65. From Vancouver to SeaTac, fares are $49 one-way, $87 round-trip..
- Rapid Connections LLC, ☎ . Buses goes up to Sacramento via San Fernando, Bakersfield, Fresno, Modesto, Stockton and several other places along SR-99; and down to Tijuana via Santa Ana and San Ysidro.
- Tufesa, ☎ . Connects Los Angles to Sacramento (via Bakersfield, Fresno, etc); to Salt Lake City (via Barstow, Las Vegas, St George, etc); to Hermosillo (via Phoenix, Tucson, Nogales); San Francisco Bay Area; and to Tijuana (via Santa Ana, San Diego/San Ysidro). Prices vary depending on your destination.
See "By bus" under "Getting in" in the article for a particular city or locale and under "Getting around" in a state article for an additional list of other bus companies serving the west coast.
Mile markers are statewide mileposts, starting with "0" at the south border of each state which increases as you go north and then starts over at "0" when crossing the state line into the next state. So going south the numbers on the mileposts will decrease and then start over at the highest number (276 in Washington, 308 in Oregon & 796 in California) when crossing a state line. The exit numbers correspond with the mileposts so some numbers may be skipped if the exits are further apart from one to the next. Other exits that are one next to the other or "2 in 1" may have the same exit number followed by an "A", "B" or even a "C" such as "Exit #100A" to get on A St, "Exit #100B" to get on B St and so forth.
The maximum speed limit is 70 mph (112 km/h) for cars & 55 mph (88 km/h) for large trucks on rural stretches and 65 mph (104 km/h) in urban areas or lower if posted otherwise.
- 1 San Ysidro (Mile 0). Border crossing
- 2 Chula Vista (Exits 7A-9). There are five exits for Chula Vista.
- 3 National City (Exits 10-12). There are four exits for National City.
- 4 San Diego (Exits 13A-36). There are over thirty exits for San Diego.
- 5 Encinitas (Exits 39-41B). There are four exits for Encinitas.
- 6 Carlsbad (Exits 43-51A). There are eight exits for Carlsbad.
- 7 Oceanside (Exits 51B-54C). There are seven exits for Oceanside.
- 8 Aliso Creek Rest Area (Exit 59 (northbound), Exit 60 (southbound) / Mile 59.87). Closed for maintenance Restrooms, water, picnic tables, phone, vending machines and RV sanitation station.
- 9 Basilone Road (Exit 71 / Mile 71.3). There are a handful of fast food restaurants, a commissary, and a single gas station on the east side of the interstate, but these lie behind a gate to Camp Pendleton Marine Base and are thus off-limits to non-military travelers. Less than a mile south of this exit, San Onofre State Beach is publicly accessible and is a popular surfing spot that also offers camping. A short distance further south, the now-decommissioned San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station is visible just west of the interstate; the station's twin spherical containment buildings famously inspired Frank Drebin in The Naked Gun to lament that "everywhere I look something reminds me of her".
Orange County and Los Angeles
Past the Camp Pendleton Marine Base the interstate enters the large conurbation of cities in OC and LA counties. This section is multi-lane (3 to 5) in both directions and is busy with traffic at nearly all times of the day. If at all possible avoid driving at peak commuter times. Some drivers may be tempted to take Interstate 405 as an alternate route, but check traffic conditions before doing so as it is often even worse for traffic congestion.
- San Clemente (Exits 73-77). There are five exits for San Clemente. El Camino Real runs almost parallel to the highway and has a number of restaurants, many of which are Mexican.
- Dana Point (Exits 78-79). There are two exits for Dana Point.
- San Juan Capistrano (Exits 81-83). There are three exits for San Juan Capistrano.
- Mission Viejo (Exits 85A-88). There are four exits for Mission Viejo.
- Laguna Hills (Exits 89-92). There are four exits for Laguna Hills.
- Irvine (Exits 94-100). There are eight exits for Irvine.
- 10 Sand Canyon, Old Town, East Irvine (Exit 96 / Mile 96.22). In addition to the chance to have a Knowlwood Burger in a building built in 1900, check out the 19th-century Irvine Bean and Growers Association Building.
- Tustin (Exits 101-103). There are four exits for Tustin.
- Santa Ana (Exits 103-105). There are five exits for Santa Ana.
- Anaheim (Exits 109-113). There are seven exits for Anaheim.
- 11 SR-39 / Buena Park (Exit 116 / Mile 115.71). On Beach Blvd there are a number of chain hotels and restaurants such as Fuddruckers.
- Santa Clarita (Exits 163-172). There are eight exits for Santa Clarita.
- 12 Magic Mountain Parkway (Exit 170 / Mile 170.23). The famous Magic Mountain amusement park is along the western side of the freeway and is home to roller coasters that have held world records for height and speed; freeway travelers will have an excellent view of thrill seekers taking the plunge over one of the many terrifying hills on the park's iconic rides. There are gas stations, chain restaurants and hotels at the exit that cater to park visitors, but expect heavier than normal traffic in the area during the summer when the park is busiest.
The road climbs out of the San Fernando Valley,which although multi-lane will have slow-moving traffic before entering the Santa Clarita Valley. Oddly, at one point the north and south bound carriageways cross and run for a number of miles separate from one another.
- 13 Castaic (Exit 176 / Mile 176.15).
- 14 Tejon Pass Rest Area (Exit 206 / Mile 205.97). Restrooms, water, picnic tables, phone, vending machines and RV sanitation station.
- 15 Lebec Road (Exit 207 / Mile 206.88). The highway descends at a sharp six percent grade through a curving path within Grapevine Canyon from Lebec down to the Central Valley. The original route was infamous for its accidents until being straightened and widened between 1933-34. This stretch of road is known as The Grapevine and is often closed during storms when driving conditions become treacherous.
Most of this section is two-lane carriageway in both directions, running straight with only small rises though sparsely populated areas.
- 16 Laval Road (Exit 219A & B / Mile 218.79). The Laval Road exit has undergone dramatic development by the Tejon Ranch Corporation and now offers significant amenities for travelers. The Outlets at Tejon have over 70 outlet stores. Food options include Chipotle, Subway, Starbucks, In-N-Out, Panda Express, Black Bear Diner, and Carl's Jr. Gas options include Shell, Travel America, Chevron, Mobil, and Petro.
- 17 SR-58 / Buttonwillow / McKittrick (Exit 257 / Mile 257.42). The town of Buttonwillow is actually five miles west of the interstate, but more than enough gas stations, fast food restaurants and even a couple of motels are clustered just off of the east side of the highway. For those heading north, services start to become sparse, so this is a stop worth considering if your gas tank is heading towards empty. Chevron, Mobil, Arco, Shell, and Travel Centers of America are all fuel options, while food options include Starbucks, Denny's, Carl's Jr, McDonald's, Taste of India, and Tita's Pupuseria.
- 18 Buttonwillow Rest Area (Exit 259 / Mile 259.38). Restrooms, water, picnic tables, phone and vending machines. No RV sanitation station.
- 19 Lost Hills (Exit 278 / Mile 278.29). Just off the highway are a number of gas stations and fast food establishments. The town further down the road only really caters for local agricultural workers.
- 20 Twisselman Road (Exit 288 / Mile 287.62). This exit lacks services, but may be worth a stop between October and March to visit the Kern National Wildlife refuge. The refuge is about seven miles east of the interstate. It is a winter home to herons, cranes, hawks, ducks, and many, many other species of birds.
- 21 SR-41 / Kettleman City (Exit 309 / Mile 308.90).
- 22 Coalinga/Avenal Rest Area (Exit 320 / Mile 320.45). Restrooms, water, picnic tables, phone and vending machines. No RV sanitation station.
- 23 SR-198 / Lemoore / Hanford (Exit 334 / Mile 333.89). It is in the midst of a long stretch of empty highway; this exit has the Harris Ranch Complex, which sells fuel and food, and has a farm stand, a Tesla Supercharger, and lodging. The main ranch building offers a pretty good bakery, and those seeking out a steak won't be disappointed by the restaurant. If long drives aren't your thing, the location is approximately halfway between Los Angeles and San Francisco and thus offers a good place to stop and spend the night. The town of Coalinga is 13 miles southwest of this exit and has additional amenities.
- 24 John "Chuck" Erreca Rest Area (Exit 386 / Mile 385.83). Restrooms, water, picnic tables, phone and vending machines. No RV sanitation station.
- 25 Highway 33 and 152 / Los Banos (Exit 403 / Mile 402.76). CA-152 west is the main route through the hills to Gilroy and onward to either San Jose (via 101-N) or Monterey Bay (via CA-156). Los Banos, 6 miles east on CA-152, offers amenities for travelers. One exit west (at CA-33) is a Petro station with reasonable restaurant.
- 26 SR-33 / Santa Nella (Exit 407 / Mile 407.02). This exit has several gas stations and a handful of motels. Food options are plentiful and include a Starbucks and an In-N-Out, and for those who have been seeing the many billboards during hours of travel, this is the northern half of the Pea Soup Andersen's chain and its namesake soup.
- 27 Gustine (Exit 418 / Mile 417.57).
- 28 Patterson (Eit 434 / Mile 433.52).
- 29 Westley (Exit 441 / Mile 440.73).
- 30 Westley Rest Area (Exit 445 / Mile 444.86). Restrooms, water, picnic tables, phone, vending machines and RV sanitation station.
- 31 Junction Interstate 580 (northbound only) (Exit 446 / Mile 446.35). I-580 takes northbound drivers to San Francisco via the East Bay.
- 32 Junction Interstate 205 (southbound only) (Exit 458B / Mile 458.34). I-205 takes southbound drivers to San Francisco via the East Bay.
- Stockton (Exits 469-481). There are eleven exits for Stockton.
- Sacramento (Exits 512-525). There are fifteen exits for Sacramento.
- 33 Junction Interstate 80 (Exit 522 / Mile 522.26). Interstate 80 is the second longest interstate in the country, traveling approximately 2900 miles from San Francisco in the west to New York City in the east. It is the most convenient route to San Francisco for southbound travelers, or for travelers going east to Lake Tahoe.
- 34 Elkhorn Rest Area (southbound only) (Exit 529 / Mile 529.26). Restrooms, water, picnic tables and phone. No vending machines or RV sanitation station.
- 35 Dunnigan Rest Area (Exit 557 / Mile 556.52). Restrooms, water, picnic tables and phone. No vending machines or RV sanitation station.
- 36 Maxwell Rest Area (Exit 583 / Mile 583.41). Restrooms, water, picnic tables and phone. No vending machines or RV sanitation station.
- 37 Willows Rest Area (Exit 608 / Mile 608.00). Restrooms, water, picnic tables, phone and RV sanitation station. No vending machines.
- 38 Lt. John C. Helmick Rest Area (Exit 633 / Mile 632.73). Closed for maintenance Restrooms, water, picnic tables and phone. No vending machines or RV sanitation station.
- 39 Herbert S. Miles Rest Area (Exit 656 / Mile 655.66). Restrooms, water, picnic tables and phone. No vending machines or RV sanitation station.
- Red Bluff (Exits 647-652). There are six exits for Red Bluff.
- Redding (Exits 675-682). There are seven exits for Redding.
- 40 Bridge Bay Road (Exit 690 / Mile 690.48). The interstate crosses Shasta Lake, California's largest reservoir, just north of Bridge Bay - the lake level at the crossing provides a quick way to judge the health of the state's water supply. The Bridge Bay Resort is just off of the exit at the marina and offers a restaurant and lodging, but the beautiful scenery will be of more interest to most travelers. Houseboats are a popular rental option on the lake, and over one hundred of them can sometimes be seen docked in Bridge Bay.
- 41 O'Brien Rest Area (northbound only) (Exit 694 / Mile 693.88). Restrooms, water, picnic tables and phone. No vending machines or RV sanitation station.
- 42 Lakehead Rest Area (southbound only) (Exit 705 / Mile 704.50). Restrooms, water, picnic tables, phone and vending machines. No RV sanitation station.
- Dunsmuir (Exits 730-734). There are three exits for Dunsmuir.
- Mount Shasta (Exits 738-741). There are three exits for Mount Shasta City.
- Weed (Exits 745-748). There are three exits for Weed.
- 43 Weed Airport Rest Area (Exit 753 / Mile 753.43). Restrooms, water, picnic tables and phone. No vending machines or RV sanitation station.
- 44 Randolph C. Collier Rest Area (Exit 786 / Mile 785.81). Closed for maintenance Restrooms, water, picnic tables and phone. No vending machines or RV sanitation station.
- 45 Hornbrook (Exit 789).
The maximum rural speed limit is 70 mph (112 km/h) & 60 mph for large trucks which is more relevant along I-84 corridor between The Dalles & the Snake River (Idaho border). The I-5 corridor remains at 65 mph (104km/h) in rural areas and 55-60 mph in urban areas. The stretch of I-5 between Portland & Eugene is also at 55-60mph (88-100km/h) too. Interstate travelers in Oregon should be aware that it is illegal to pump your own gas in the counties through which I-5 passes (although Oregon law changed in 2018 to allow stations in certain counties to offer self-service, I-5 doesn't pass through any of them). When you arrive at a filling station wait for an attendant to come to your car rather than attempting to get out and fill up your car on your own.
- 46 Ashland. A small town that is home to the Tony award winning Oregon Shakespeare Festival that has productions from February to October.
- 47 Medford.
- 48 Grants Pass.
- 49 Eugene. The second-largest city in Oregon, home to the University of Oregon Ducks.
- 50 Salem. The capital city of Oregon, traditionally known for being low-key, the downtown area is showing the early signs of rejuvenation.
- 51 Yamhill Valley Wine Country. A world-renowned wine tasting destination. cities in the area include McMinnville, Dundee, and Newberg.
- 52 Portland (Exit 300 / Mile 300). The largest city in Oregon, and a cultural center for the region. Known for its food and music scenes, and counter-cultural attitudes. Thousands of acres of gardens, parks, and trails to explore, as well as a multitude of shops and restaurants spread across several neighborhoods.
The maximum speed limit is 70 MPH (112 km/h) for cars & 60 MPH (100 km/h) for large trucks on rural stretches and 60 MPH (100 km/h) in urban areas or lower if posted otherwise. Some of the highway rest stops in Washington are also staffed by volunteers from different local religious and fraternal organizations such as the Lions Club or Elk's Club to offer free coffee, tea, water and cookies to travelers. Some even offer home baked goods such as brownies too. A donation of any amount is appreciated in the can provided on the counter. Rest stops in Washington state do not have exit numbers but rather marked with a blue sign rather than the green sign.
North of Olympia the interstate enters the large conurbation of cities in Pierce, King and Snohomish counties. This section is multi-lane (3 to 5) in both directions and is busy with traffic at nearly all times of the day. If at all possible avoid driving at peak commuter times. Some drivers may be tempted to take Interstate 405 through Bellevue as an alternate route, but check traffic conditions before doing so as it is often even worse for traffic congestion than Interstate 5.
- 53 I-405/SR-518 (Exit 154). The off ramp splits going west into SR-518 towards Burien and Seattle Tacoma International Airport and east into I-405 towards Renton and Bellevue. The airport can also be accessed from S 188th St from Exit #152.
- Seattle (Exits 157-175). Being the largest city in the state of Washington and the Pacific Northwest, you will find Seattle a vibrant and cosmopolitan city. Next to the progressive downtown and the freewheeling feel of Capitol Hill, you can find a laid-back atmosphere in the districts to the north and ethnically diverse neighborhoods to the south. There are many restaurants, coffee shops and microbreweries worth indulging in after a day spent strolling through the city's many parks and beaches or admiring the arts and architecture.
- 54 West Seattle Bridge & Beacon Hill (Exit 163 & 163A) (Just south of downtown Seattle).
- 55 Junction Interstate 90 & Downtown Seattle (Exit 164 & 164A) (Just south of downtown Seattle). Interstate 90 is the longest interstate in the country, traveling approximately 3020 miles from Seattle in the west to Boston in the east. It is the most convenient route for travelers going to Eastern Washington and northern Idaho and another way to cross Lake Washington (without toll) from Seattle to Bellevue and Mercer Island locally. The off ramp from the northbound lanes is at Exit #164A. From the southbound lanes the exit to I-90 east is at #164 just getting past downtown with the two right lanes going into I-90 east.
- Downtown Seattle & Capitol Hill (Exit 165 & 166) (Just south of downtown Seattle). The Seneca St exit is a the left (#165) while the Olive St exit is to the right (#166)
- 56 SR-520 (Exit 168B). SR-520 crosses Lake Washington into Kirkland & Redmond (Home of Microsoft). There's a toll to go across the bridge in both directions. Rather than setting up toll booths to collect toll cameras are installed to read the "Good to Go" tags on the windshields and the license plates of passing vehicles and deduct the toll from the pre-paid account behind the "Good to Go" tag. If there's no money on deposit or no tags installed a bill (for the toll) is mailed to the registered owner of the vehicle. Toll varies from $0 (Midnight to 5AM) to $5.55 (peak weekday travel times).
- 57 Edmonds/SR-104 (Exit 177). SR-104 goes west into the Edmonds Ferry Terminal with ferries going to Kingston
- Lynnwood (Exit 178-181). There are three exits through Lynnwood
- 58 I-405/SR-525 (Exit 182). Jct I-405 from Exit 182 to get to Kirkland, Bellevue and Renton east of Lake Washington. Rejoins I-5, 30 mi south at Exit #154. I-405 becomes SR-525 west of I-5 going towards the Mukilteo Ferry Terminal via Paine Field .
- Everett (Exits 182-198). Everett is home to the largest public marina on the west coast of the United States and the assembly plant for the large Boeing 747, 767, 777 and the Dreamliner (787) jumbo jets which is open for public tours. There are 6 exits through Everett.
- 60 SR532 west to Stanwood & Camano Island (Exit 212).
- Mt Vernon (Exits 224-227). If traveling through during the month of April be sure to check out the annual Tulip Festival which takes place during the entire month of April. This and event when thousands of Seattle residents and international visitors flock to see the endless fields of tulips just outside the city limits that paint the Skagit Valley more brilliantly than a Dutch impressionist could.
- Burlington (Exits 229-231). There are three exits in Burlington.
- Bellingham (Exits 250-258). Is the home for Western Washington University, the departure point for the Alaska Ferry going up to SE Alaska and the largest city in this part of the state. It was an industrial town based on coal mining and timber and is now more environmentally conscious culture with environmentally friendly practices, such as recycling and the gateway to outdoor activities. Activities range from skiing on nearby Mt. Baker to whale watching near the San Juan Islands. The Bellingham International Airport is next to the freeway and can be accessed from Airport Rd at Exit #258 while the Alaska Ferry Terminal at the Fairhaven Transportation Center can be accessed from Old Fairhaven Pwky at Exit #250. There are 9 exits in Bellingham.
- Ferndale (Exits 262 & 263). Two exits to access Ferndale from both directions.
- 61 Blaine (Exits 270-276). Trucks & buses exit off at SR-543 (Second to the last at Exit #275) and cross through a separate checkpoint, 5mi (8km) east of the I-5/BC-99 crossing at Peace Arch Park for going in both directions. SR-543 becomes BC-15 after crossing into Canada. There are 4 exits in Blaine.
When on the road, most of the journey is straightforward freeway driving. If it is winter, it is wise to check the weather conditions at the Siskiyou pass before crossing the border from California into Oregon. Snowy conditions are not uncommon, and officials usually close the road if things become too dangerous. A closure can be waited out in the Shasta or Redding area on the California side, or Ashland and Medford on the Oregon side. It is also possible to detour along the coast.
Alternatives for traveling north/south through California include US-Hwy 101, El Camino Real and the Pacific Coast Highway in the west, or US-Hwy 395 along the Eastern Sierra and east of the Cascades in Oregon and Washington. All of these are more scenic and interesting routes but are much longer and slower and are more of a journey to experience than just for getting from A to B. Both SR-99, US-395 and US-Hwy 101 are also local streets/roads at slower speeds through some of the towns they pass through.