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San Juan Island
I-5, Exits 226/230 to Hwy 20
This laid-back waterside town has an island vibe and a penchant for parties.
Known as the gateway to the San Juans, this is where your island hopping really begins. Home of the Anacortes Ferry Terminal, ferries run daily
to four of the San Juan Islands and Vancouver Island.
Street festivals abound during the summer months for this little island town, drawing in the crowds for music, food and shopping and even scavenging. Yes, we said scavenging.
The 34th annual Shipwreck Festival on July 20 touts itself as “an antique and flea market and community garage sale” that shuts down all of Commercial Street (the main drag) and draws in the crowds by the thousands to the historic downtown area.
The party first started when commercial fishermen would sell their used gear as yard art – after all, what is one man’s trash is another man’s treasure – and has been a consistent summer fixture in the streets of Anacortes ever since.
If you’re not coming into town until late in the summer, don’t worry. The parties continue. Head out to the dock for workboat races, pirates and musical performances in late August at the annual Workboat Races.
Art festivals, summer music festivals and bike rallies all have their place in the sun in Anacortes. The Anacortes Art Festival alone attracts more than 100,000 people each year with artisans, food vendors and entertainers.
Situated on the western edge of Fidalgo Island, Anacortes is separated from the mainland by the Swinomish Channel and from Whidbey Island by Deception Pass. Locals describe it as a city within a park. With a population of more than 15,000, Anacortes is surrounded by approximately 3,000 acres of cityowned forestlands and parks and more than 12 miles of saltwater shorelines. Lake Campbell, one of the five freshwater lakes on Fidalgo Island, contains one of the few islands within an island in the world.
If you need a break or just want a beautiful view from up high, take a drive to the top of 1,300-foot tall Mt. Erie for an overlook of the city. You can also hike up to the scenic Cap Sante lookout, which offers a 360-degree view of the town, harbor and nearby islands. Tip: Make your way up about 45 minutes before sunset for an amazing golden-bathed landscape. It’s an enchanting view.
After hiking or touring the various art galleries in downtown, be sure to visit one of the city’s many eateries along Commercial Avenue, such as Cafe Adrift, or sample microbrews at the Rockfish Grill and Anacortes Brewery. Friendly inns and motels abound on the island, so don’t rush to get to other places.
For more info, visit anacortes.org.
What the locals know:
MUSIC LOVER? Make your way over to Seafarer’s
Memorial Park with its lush green lawns and take part in the free summer concert series on Saturdays July 20 through August 17. Local restaurants frequently host live music as well.
NOT IN TOWN DURING A FESTIVAL WEEKEND?
Never fear. Anacortes is an antiquer’s mecca. Just head downtown and visit any of the well-stocked antique stores on the main drag and it’s a good bet you’ll find exactly what you’re looking for!
WANT TO GET OUT OF TOWN AND BACK TO
NATURE? Visit Washington Park, just past the ferry
terminal, for a taste of the great outdoors. The peninsular park gives visitors a panoramic view of the San Juan Islands, and the 2.2-mile loop of road showcases the vast geography of the area’s rocky shoreline and tidepool beaches, as well as its grassy knolls, meadowlands and forests.
STEP BACK INTO HISTORY: Marine Supply & Hardware is the oldest marine supplier on the West Coast. Even if you don’t have a boat, a stop at this shop is always interesting, and you might find yourself leaving with a piece of history.