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- Arts & Culture
- Outdoor Activities
What I love about the coastal town of Anacortes is its versatility. A day trip here means you can experience Fidalgo Island your way ‒ for an outdoor adventure I suggest hiking up to the top of Mt. Erie and then grabbing a bite to eat and a cold beer afterward, or for a more relaxed day spend some time downtown, exploring shops, art galleries, and then enjoy a glass of wine while taking in the view of the marina.
To help find the town’s must-see stops, grab a map at the Visitor Center, or download the Experience Anacortes app. You’ll find the majority of the city’s restaurants, art galleries, shops, and hotels are all Commercial Avenue, and many are within its very walkable historic downtown. During the day, it can be bustling; however, later evening, it becomes a little sleepy. For late-night action, go to the main bars downtown, which usually host live music on the weekends.
The restaurant scene caters to a wide range of cuisine, southern, rustic, Mexican, Thai, and PNW, just to name a few, and many make the extra effort to source local ingredients. On Sundays, most shops and some restaurants close, so plan accordingly.
A fun time to experience Anacortes is during one of their annual festivals like Beir on the Pier, the Anacortes Spring Wine Festival, and the Anacortes Arts Festival. These draw a crowd, so plan for accommodations in advance.
For a leisurely activity, go the self-guided walking tour route to learn about the city’s sculptures, murals, parks, and monuments. To discover its fishing and canning history, visit the Anacortes Museum, Maritime Heritage Center, and W.T. Preston.
One easy activity you don’t want to miss is driving up to Cap Sante Park. The view from the top is gorgeous! The marina, downtown, and the San Juan Islands are to the west, and Mt. Baker and the Skagit Valley are to the east. On a clear day, you’ll even spot Mt. Rainier!
If you’re like me and like to get a slice of local life, go to the farmers market on Saturdays (some dates through the winter months). You’ll find a bit of everything ‒ arts, crafts, jewelry, baked goods, flowers, produce, meats, cheeses, food vendors, ice cream, live entertainment, and plenty of locals.
Along with being the hub for whale watching adventures, there are also fishing charters, golfing, kayak tours and the city boasts 50 miles of multi-use trails in its forestlands (a hidden gem). Popular hikes are up to the top of Mt. Erie, Sugarloaf, and the paved loop at Washington Park (the easiest out of the three). Before you head out, be sure to download a map to your phone. If you have kids, they’ll love the playground and splash pad at Storvik Park. If you travel with your dog, they can run free at two off-leash parks (one is downtown).
Deception Pass State Park is about 15 minutes from Anacortes and spans both Fidalgo Island and Whidbey Island. Being the most photographed bridge in the state, visitors come rain or shine to experience its dizzying height and take in the stunning views of the Olympic Mountains and Mt. Baker. On the Fidalgo Island side are Bowman Bay (seasonal kayak and SUP rentals) and Rosario Beach, both of which have trails, picnic areas, and a beach. For a unique perspective of the bridge as well as some history and wildlife viewing, arrange to join a jet boat tour with Deception Pass Tours.
Description by Lara Dunning