Anacortes is a charming small town on the northern shore of Fidalgo Island, and possibly one of the best kept secrets in all of Washington. It’s not one of our larger cities, but the community still has a thriving arts scene, events going on all year, some of the most breathtaking waterfront views you’ll ever see, and much more to love. Here are 10 of the many reasons why it’s an underrated gem:
1. They serve as the gateway to the San Juan Islands.
Anacortes is known as the main jumping off point to head out to the San Juan Islands. The town's ferry terminal can take you out to Shaw Island, Lopez Island, Orcas Island, San Juan Island, as well as Guemes Island. You can also catch a ferry up to Sidney, B.C. on Vancouver Island from here.
2. It's a complete paradise for boaters and fishers.
The seaside town is surrounded by water on three sides, so of course it provides plenty of moorage for boaters. There are thousands of boats around town, along with two public marinas and opportunities for world-class salmon fishing.
3. The locally-caught seafood can't get any fresher.
Because the seaside town has so many boating and fishing opportunities, their local fresh seafood is hard to beat. Check out Adrift downtown and get a taste of their delectable Dungeness Crab Cakes.
4. The community has a huge music & arts scene.
Downtown Anacortes is filled with art galleries showcasing local work, along with murals painted on many walls and windows. Every August, they also host the Anacortes Arts Festival, which features over 275 artisans and their work, along with over 30 food vendors serving local and international eats. It will be going on this year from August 5-7.
5. Their downtown is filled with historic buildings, and charming vintage shops.
If you go for a walk downtown (especially on Commercial Ave), you'll be able to take in a lot of their historical small town charm. The area's home to over 30 historic buildings, and several antique shops with rare vintage finds. Check out Alley Cat Antiques for an eclectic selection.
6. They have a fantastic local Farmer's Market.
Every year, the Anacortes Farmer's Market showcases a great variety of freshly grown produce in front of the Depot plaza. Stop by this season (opening May 7) and you'll be able to pick up all kinds of fruits, veggies, and artisan products from local vendors.
7. They have a giant 164-foot-long ship that you can tour.
While you're in town, a trip over to the W.T. Preston by the marina is a must. This huge, historical vessel is open for public tours as part of the Anacortes Museum.
8. Almost a third of the city is devoted to public parks, forested land and recreational areas.
There are 12 miles of shoreline and 67 miles of trails throughout Anacortes. Some of the routes head through old-growth forest, while others will take you along the beautiful marina by the coast. For one of the best viewpoints overlooking the city, head down to Cap Sante Park (as seen here).
9. The sunsets here are second to none.
The views of the sunsets here over the water are absolutely heavenly. I mean, just look at this gorgeous photo - how could you get tired of seeing this every night?
10. And the top of Mount Erie is only a short drive away.
The top of Mount Erie will give you the best viewpoint on all of Fidalgo Island, and it's only about twenty minutes from downtown Anacortes. To get up there, you can take a hiking trail by foot, or you can even hop in your car and drive on a road up to the summit.