If you are looking for the perfect Washington state weekend getaway then try these two, off-the-beaten-path, towns in the heart of the Skagit Valley. They can be combined in a single day trip or extended into a leisurely and fun-filled weekend.
Skagit Valley is located just about half-way between Seattle and Vancouver, B.C. This beautiful valley of rolling farmland is nestled between the waters of the Salish Sea and the foothills of the Cascade Mountains. On a clear day, it hosts a spectacular view of Mount Baker’s snow-capped peaks.
There are activities and attractions throughout all four seasons in the valley, from birdwatching with the return of the Snow Geese and Trumpeter Swans in late October to the world-famous Skagit Valley Tulip Festival in April. There are local farmer’s markets selling fresh produce throughout the summer and hiking trails galore!
The fertile farmland in this valley produces many agricultural crops, outside of the tulips. Looking up the rows in a field you might see brussel sprouts, potatoes, barley, and many varieties of wheat. A patchwork of colors from grass green to gold dot the fields. And around March the rows and rows of daffodils light the landscape with their golden sunshine preceding the vibrant reds, purples, and pinks of the tulips. Springtime in the valley is certainly colorful and makes for a good photo op.
Much of this scenery can be seen as you head west, out across the valley towards your first stop La Conner, Wa. And in case you see a field covered white, it most likely is not snow but snow geese!
LaConner, the tiny town with big charm.
La Conner, established in 1869, is a small artisan town hugging the shoreline of the Salish Sea along the Swinomish Channel and spreading itself across the farmland of this valley. It is one of the places people just love to visit, again and again. There is wild beauty found in the scenery and a richness in culture as you peruse the local shops of La Conner. Here you will find unique gifts for everyone on your list, including you!
Walk the length of town along LaConner’s boardwalk. From this angle you have a fabulous perspective of The Rainbow Bridge, reaching across the channel to connect the town with the Swinomish tribe and reservation on the other side. The bridge has become as iconic as this quaint tourist town.
Strolling the boardwalk keep your eyes peeled for resident seals bobbing their heads up to catch a curious glimpse of you, and the neighborhood Great Blue Heron. He likes to roam the boardwalk too.
First street is the downtown shopping center for LaConner with many retailers offering everything from home decor, jewelry, kitchen goods, clothing to books and antiques. Looking for something in particular? You just may find it in LaConner.
As you enter town from the North end, one of the first places to stop is Seaport Books, a cozy little bookshop with a very big heart. They specialize in finding just the right read for you, whether it is the latest crime novel or a DIY on home gardening. Included on their racks are many local authors, including a well-known author calling LaConner home, Tom Robbins.
Stroll down the block to find kitchen stores catering to the foodie in your life. Inside The Ginger Grater and Olive Shoppe find several varieties of olives, olive oils, vinegars, jams, jellies, and more. Stroll down the aisles to find specialty kitchen gadgets to help you create your own goodies at home.
Looking for a beautiful carafe to hold your newly purchased olive oil? Sempre Italiano is the store to find it in. This store is a visual delight, surrounding you with the deep, warm colors of Italy as soon as you walk in the door. They specialize in ceramics for your entire home.
Wander further along the street and weave yourself in and out of the many art galleries and boutiques. Amaryllis is a upscale clothing boutique offering beautiful designs from many artists accented with a line of shoes and jewelry. Pop next door to check out what the creatives are up to at The Wood Merchant, a woodworking gallery of hand-crafted American made furniture and gifts. A one of a kind find for sure.
As you wind your back up through mainstreet, do not miss stopping in at Nasty Jack’s, it is the large antique store on the corner with the Zoltaire fortune teller waiting out front to tell you your future. Inside is an eclectic mix of old LP records, goofy gadgets and games, and a mix of both antique and modern furniture.
A full day of site seeing and shopping works up an appetite. Here are some favorite stops to grab a bite.
Want to go where locals hang out and sample the best coffee in the valley? Find both at Stompin’ Grounds Coffee. If you are more in the mood for a burger and brew, there is the LaConner Brewery, with local flavors on tap every day or try the La Conner Pub & Eatery for a pizza and game of pool. If seafood makes your mouth water there are several choices in town, La Conner Seafood & Prime Rib House and The Oyster & Thistle Feeling more in the mood for a glass of wine and a leisurely meal while sitting outside overlooking the waterway? Nell Thorn of La Conner and La Conner Sips Wine Bar both offer a sophisticated, bistro atmosphere to indulge with after a long afternoon.
Feeling satiated after a great meal?
Why not hang out in LaConner a little longer. Take in the sunset, the valley views, or stroll along the waterfront and steal a moonlight kiss. LaConner is known to be the most romantic place in Washington. Then leisurely return to your night’s accommodations to dream sweet dreams.
La Conner Channel Lodge is situated overlooking the Swinomish channel and is the only waterfront hotel in town. Remember trying to spot those seals? It will prove easier from your very own balcony.
If a smaller venue is more your style, try Katy’s Inn Bed and Breakfast, just up the hill from all the downtown shops. Plus Katy’s offer a two-course breakfast each morning with plenty of coffee flowing. The Wild Iris Inn is centrally located offering private jettted tubs to soak away the day while the Heron Inn & Day Spa charms its visitors with its French Country decor and feel.
(picture of Katy’s B&B)
But before leaving La Conner, there are three marvelous museums to check out. These are especially great to put on your itinerary if the day proves a bit rainy, as the weather can change quickly here in the Pacific Northwest.
The Museum of Northwest Art, The Skagit County Historical Museum, and Pacific Northwest Quilt and Fiber Art Museum. It is all here from modern art collections to history buffs to quilting hobbiests. All in the small town of La Conner.
On to Edison, WA
Just North of La Conner by roughly 13 or so miles is the tiny town of Edison, WA. It is the quintessential tiny town with a population around 133 residents and one street running through its heart. First settled in 1869, the town is named after another eccentric thinker Thomas Edison, the inventor. Albeit small, this town is packed with creatives and innovators from all walks of life. The main street is lined with art galleries, cool shops, and a variety of eateries.
Come for the day. Play. Eat. Shop.
The interesting looking building on the corner of town is The Lucky Dumpster, an eclectic shop of local artisans, kitschy antiques and unusual crafts. This is where you get your fun on!
(picture of Lucky)
Up the block is Hedgerow, the upscale boutique featuring beautiful textiles, jewelry, and perfume. Indulge your senses of smell, sight, and touch in this store!
On the other side of the road an older white churchlike building houses Smith & Vallee Art Gallery. It is well worth a gander inside for they feature local and national artists with a rotating display monthly.
Food and Libations A Plenty
Tucked away at the end of the road in Edison is the best kept secret of Skagit Valley, Terramar Brewstillery and Pizza. Terramar is where earth and water meet in this town along the waterway of the Edison slough. Specializing in home brew libations of every kind, they roll a brew pub, winery, and distillery all into one. And oh yeah, throw in some fantastic gourmet pizza along with an assortment of homemade appetizers and goodies. Terramar is one stop shopping for your tastebuds.
Even though Edison is small, it is home to many world class eateries such as the BreadFarm Bakery and Slough Food Cafe which side by side on the same block. The perfect combination to purchase a baguette of fresh bread, a wedge of cheese and a bottle of wine. Then meander down to the edge of the slough to watch the sunset over the farmlands.
For the motorcycle mama and papa, or just to watch the football game, there is the Old Edison Tavern, just steps away from the shops in town. Just on the outer edge of town ther is the Rhododendron Cafe, known to the locals as the Rhody. A cosy old farmhouse style cafe offering a mix of Northwest and ethnic dishes to suit any palette.
Edison is the best kept secret offering rich culture, gorgeous scenery and friendly folks. Come for the day or extend your stay into a long weekend, exploring the hikes and trails of the area, or take in one of the local festivals such as the Edison Bird Festival marked with its annual Chicken parade, or visit the town center during the holidays to view their dressed-up and festive lights. It is always creative and always a show!