“Anacortes. . .we spent the night in Anacortes. It’s an adorable little town. . .really!”
Although this seafront town, with a population of just under 16,000, on Fidalgo Island got its start more than a century ago, until last month we’d been like the other two million visitors who pass through it each year en route to board a Washington State ferry headed to the San Juan islands or Victoria, B.C.
After making it our destination a couple weeks ago, we’ve put it high on our close-to-home WAWeekend getaway recommended list because:
There’s more than 12 miles of shoreline and some 60 miles of trails to be explored.
Thanks to artist Bill Mitchell’s talents, the town sports some 100 murals. (Mural route maps can be purchased at the Chamber of Commerce Visitor’s Center). This is one of my favorites.
Pedestrian-friendly streets are lined with picture perfect 20th Century – and earlier – homes. The homes above framed our walking route to the Guemes Island ferry terminal and were within a few blocks of the Anacortes Museum, housed in a Carnegie Library building built between 1909 and 1911.
Speaking of museums, just across town the Maritime Heritage Center proudly displays the W.T. Preston Snagboat, a sternwheeler once used for clearing debris from Puget Sound. The Snagboat and Carnegie Library are both on the National Register of Historic Places.
Public art is everywhere from statues to ‘Sidewalk Salmon Cans’ (beautifully camouflaged garbage cans throughout the historic district), a tribute to the once flourishing local salmon and fish canning industry. Canneries have been replaced with fish processing plants in this bustling town mid-way between Seattle and Vancouver, British Columbia.
The first fish cannery in Anacortes was founded in 1893 and by 1915 there were 11 canneries stretched along Guemes Channel (pictured here).
In 1913 fishing boats delivered 39 million salmon that were canned into 800,000 cases of fish.
For those who require shopping therapy as a part of any trip and for those who also seek the finest in culinary offerings, we can assure you that Anacortes has plenty of both.
You’ll find some great one-of-a-kind apparel, antiques, decorator and gift stores, but one of our favorites was the independent Watermark Book Co. A sign on its door reminded us of the fragility of such businesses: “Find it here, Buy it here, Keep us here.”
It’s housed in another historic building, this one once was a bank.
Another popular eatery is the A-Town Bistro, a half block away at 418 Commercial Avenue. The place was packed on the Tuesday night we visited.
As I told you in an earlier report, we spent a night at The Majestic Inn and Spa celebrating The Scout’s birthday during our impromptu end-of-February road trip, however there are many hotels and bed-and-breakfasts from which to choose here.
If you’ve not spent time in Anacortes, you should give it a try – we are certainly glad we did.
If You Go:
For visitor information:
Anacortes Chamber of Commerce Visitor Information Center,819 Commercial Ave., www.anacortes.org, 360-293-7911.