Visitors to the San Juan Islands may be familiar with Anacortes because it is the city from which all of the San Juan Island Ferries depart, but there is a lot to enjoy in and around the city that can be easily missed by the ferry passengers. Although you can easily drive to Anacortes from the mainland, it is actually located on an island in Skagit County called Fidalgo, and the phenomenon of “island time” certainly exists in the quaint seaside town. Visitors come from all around to relax, enjoy views of the San Juan Islands, and shop in the historic downtown district. Outdoor types would appreciate a stop in Washington Park, Mt. Erie Park, or Cap Sante Park.
Washington Park is on a peninsula and features a paved road with trails paralleling it, so visitors can either drive, hike, or bike around the 2.2 mile loop. There are plenty of access points to the beaches where lucky explorers can find tidepools, harbor seals, or even orcas plying the waters just off the park.
Mt. Erie Park juts 1300 feet above the city, and is the highest vantage point on Fidalgo Island, so the 360o views are unmatched. The park also offers cliff faces that are popular with the rock climbing crowd. Cap Sante Park is a quick drive to the top of the bluff above the Anacortes Marina, again offering stunning views. If you’d rather spend some time in the city, Commercial Avenue in downtown Anacortes is where you should plan to spend the day. The street is lined with antiques stores filled with unique finds, as well as excellent restaurants and beautiful historic buildings. Don’t pass up a stop at the visitors center (located at 819 Commercial Ave.); the staff is extremely helpful for planning your visit, and will make sure you see the best attractions based on your personal interests. Throughout the year Anacortes hosts exciting festivals that guarantee a fun visit. Take a look at the city’s events calendar to find out what’s going on while you’re in town.