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The rise and fall of the tide is the rhythm of life for this small village nestled on the edge of Swinomish Channel.
The oldest community in Skagit County is also perhaps the most picturesque. Listed on the National Registry of Historic Places, La Conner is a great place to eat, shop and relax awhile.
The former fishing town sits on the banks of the Swinomish Channel (referred to by locals as the “slough”). The town was founded under the name Swinomish in the early 1860s. In 1869, John Conner bought the trading post and added a post office. In 1870, he renamed the town La Conner in honor of his wife, Louise A. Conner. The town is still home to farmers and fishers but the population has grown to include artists, writers and retirees.
The area has a thriving local art scene and is considered to be the birthplace of the Northwest style of art. Artists such as Morris Graves, Charles Krafft, Kenneth Callahan, Mark Tobey and Guy Anderson formed a colony of artists on the banks of the slough during the 1940s and 50s. The area, called Fishtown, became a community for artists, writers and poets who wanted to get back to a simple way of living.
The town, which borders the Swinomish Indian reservation, still remains a haven for organic farmers, fishers, artists and visitors alike.
Art galleries and restaurants line both sides of historic 1st Street. Sculptures and outdoor art are scattered around the town.
La Conner boasts a number of inns and B&Bs. You also have plenty of options if you and your crew get hungry. The restaurants on the waterfront side of 1st Street have patios overlooking the channel and feature a wide range of cuisines. Alternatively, check out the La Conner Brewing Company for a great beer and wood-fired pizza, or head to the Rexville Grocery just south on Best Road, where you can try the “Writer’s Tuna” sandwich, named after author Tom Robbins and made with albacore tuna and kimchee.
Boaters headed to Whidbey Island from Samish Bay often overnight at the La Conner Marina, about two blocks north of the center of town. Depending upon the draft and type of vessel, captains will want to check the tide tables to find out when the slack tide occurs – nothing fouls up a boater’s day more than running aground in the muck. For info, check portofskagit.com/la-conner-marina.
Summer is a busy time for residents and visitors. In June, the town comes alive with the Festival of Music and Art, the 20th Annual Cascade Classic Rally and Tour, the annual Father’s Day Boat Show and Swap meet. Set aside time for La Conner’s Fireworks Over the Channel on July 4, while August features the 12th Annual Classic Boat & Auto Show. There is an art gallery tour on the last Friday of each month. Quilting is also a big deal in this town with a number of shows and exhibits at the La Conner Quilt and Textile Museum.
For more info, visit laconnerchamber.com.
Things to do in La Conner:
Ride a Bike: The surrounding farmlands and tulip fields are perfect flatland cycling with minimal traffic to worry about.
Get Artistic: La Conner is packed with art galleries and artist’s studios. There are great finds waiting for you ranging from exotic imported jewelry to handcrafted wooden furniture.
Museum Crawl: Visit the Museum of Northwest Art, the Skagit County History Museum or the La Conner Quilt and Textile Museum.
Watch for birds: Grab your binoculars and look for eagles and other wildlife along the Swinomish Channel.
Eat Well: Visit Snow Goose Produce for in-season produce, locally harvested seafood and all manner of wine, cheese and baked goods from local producers.