Click on the links below
to learn more
about the featured
San Juan Island
I-5, Exits 231/250 to Chuckanut Drive
bow, edison and chuckanut.
Small places with huge rewards for the lucky traveler.
It’s easy to miss Bow-Edison and Chuckanut. Hang on I-5 and you’ll blow right past these small communities hidden in Skagit Valley. But take our advice – if you bypass these tiny towns, you’ll be making a huge mistake, so detour to Highway 11 (also known as Chuckanut Drive) and let these bayside pleasures find their way into your heart (and your belly).
More than just a crook in the road, Bow-Edison, with a population of 133, is home to artisans and artists. Known as the town where journalist Edward R. Murrow graduated from high school, this community fosters and nurtures the creative.
Both Breadfarm Bakery and Farm to Market Bakery offer fresh from the earth goodness from their ovens. These bakers have mastered their craft, and one bite of the Samish River Potato Bread from Breadfarm or any of the eclectic, ever changing array of pies or pastries at Farm to Market will have you writing home to mother.
The Edison Inn, open since 1900, has carried on despite two moves, prohibition and many different owners. Its hodgepodge history has only made it stronger, and now it’s a stalwart of the small town. Grab a brew and enjoy the locally-sourced pub fare available at this kitsch joint as well as lively music.
Are you an art lover? The Smith & Vallee gallery, which is housed in a restored, turn of the century schoolhouse, is showcasing some of the finest artwork from emerging artists in the Northwest. New works go up in the gallery on the first Saturday of every month.
Continue your way north on the twisty-turny, two-lane Chuckanut Drive, which takes you into the heart of the Chuckanut Mountains. Keep your eyes on the road and wait until you reach one of the many scenic overlooks before you grab your camera.
The Chuckanut Mountains are home to some of the finest hiking in the region, ranging from the easy trek down to Clayton Beach in Larrabee State Park (you’ll need to pay a day-use fee here) to the 6.5-mile grind to the top of Oyster Dome – a 2,000-foot gain in elevation. Worth the climb, you’ll find a spectacular view of Bellingham Bay and the San Juans awaiting you at the top.
But don’t forget that even though you’re in the mountains, you’re still by the sea. In the Chuckanuts, you’ll find the freshest oysters available, growing in the mudflats below you. Stop in at the Oyster Bar on Chuckanut Drive to taste these full-flavored mollusks and order a beer to wash them down.
For more info, visit chuckanutdrive.com.
What the locals know:
IT'S A NATURE-LOVER'S PARADISE: Padilla Bay is an 11,000-acre estuarine research reserve located southwest of Bow-Edison, and is a great spot for kayakers to launch and explore the intertidal waters. Make sure you check your tide tables though – at high tide, the area is flooded up to 8 feet, but at low tide, you’ve got nothing but mud to look forward to.
Beach access and a wheelchair-accessible observation deck are located at Bay View State Park. Pack a picnic lunch and take some time to explore the 25-acre camping park with its 1,285 feet of saltwater shoreline.
HOME COOKING AT IT'S BEST: The Rhododendron Cafe, with its made-from-scratch, locally-sourced food, spins the culinary globe each month, and tacks on gastro treats from different regions and countries to it’s regular menu.
HEADS UP! The 21-mile stretch of two-lane road between Burlington and Fairhaven takes travelers high above the shoreline with dramatic cliffs and rock faces on either side. The trip is popular both with motorcyclists and road bikers but be forewarned: the road is narrow with no passing room.