Anacortes Travel Guide
At a Glance
Anacortes is a charming small town located on Fidalgo Island in Washington State. An easy 1.5-hour drive north of Seattle, the town boasts jaw-dropping views of the Cascade Mountains and San Juan Islands. Its historic downtown with eateries, shops, galleries, museums, a marina and nearby outdoor adventures makes this seaside community an ideal destination for a relaxing and fun small town getaway.
Couples, families, and solo travelers will find that Anacortes has a little bit of something for everyone, including farm-to-table restaurants, small town breweries, beaches, parks, 50 miles of hiking and biking trails, fishing charters, whale watching excursions, kayak tours, a walkable waterfront and marina, and stunning sunsets.
Travel tip: Anacortes is an easy day trip from Seattle, Washington
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Anacortes Trip Planning
When to Visit
The most popular time to visit Anacortes is during the spring and summer months. These months do offer more days of sunshine and blue skies, but always be prepared for some rain. If you do visit during these months you’ll want to plan ahead for hotel and dinner reservations.
What most people don’t realize is that Fidalgo Island lies in the “banana belt” and Anacortes weather is mild year round. On average, Anacortes receives around 23 more days of sunshine per year than Seattle, which means more days to enjoy the trails and beaches, and even go on a fishing charter. Best of all, off-season travel is easier for budget travel.
Travel tip: I
What to Pack
After living in Western Washington for over 10 years I’ve experienced all sorts of weather from endless days of sunshine and weeks of rain. Snow is rare in Anacortes, but the white stuff will occasionally fall and stick around for a day or two.
Be prepared for whatever Mother Nature brings by packing layers. Breathable fabrics, a light weight jacket for spring/summer and a heavier jacket for fall/winter. If you plan to hike bring hiking boots/shoes and shoes that can handle the rain.
Best Things to Do In Anacortes
Experience Deception Pass Bridge
Deception Pass Bridge is the most popular attraction in the area the most photographed bridge in Washington State. The bridge is part of Deception Pass State Park and there is a fee parking lot on the Whidbey Island side.
The bridge is 1,486 feet long; one section spans from Fidalgo Island to Pass Island and the other section from Pass Island to Whidbey Island.
The CCC built the bridge in 1934-1935 and it cost $482,000.
Most visitors choose to drive or walk across the bridge, but you can also hike next to or nearby ride under the bridge in a jet boat with Deception Pass Tours.
The jet boat tour includes a little bit of history, wildlife and a thrilling ride under the bridge.
Read more about experiencing Deception Pass Bridge.
Whichever way you choose to experience the bridge, don’t forget your camera!
Travel tip: My cell phone coverage likes to think I’m in Canada when I’m at Deception Pass Bridge and I always turn off my data.
Hike or Bike The Trails
My favorite outdoor activity in Anacortes is hiking in the Anacortes Community Forest Lands (ACFL) and Deception Pass State Park with my dog. There are 50 miles of multi-use trails some are hiker and bicycle only, and some allow for motorcycles and horses. The trails wander through wooded forests, near the shores of lakes, and along rocky seaside outcroppings with amazing views.
Some of the most popular trails are Mt. Erie, Sugarloaf Mountain, and the paved loop at Washington Park. Before you head out on an ACFL trail, be sure to download a map.
The trails are marked by numbers and even though I hike the trails all the time, I still find the maps helpful when navigating the trail system.
Travel tip: Read about biking and marathon events on the island and the Skagit Valley.
Take a Whale Watching Cruise
One of the most popular activities in Anacortes is going on a whale watching cruise. I have been three times and they did not disappoint. There are two companies, Mystic Sea Charters and Island Adventures. Both are long-time businesses in Anacortes and each has different boat styles.
Travel tip: If you are prone to seasickness (I get it horribly) book with Island Adventures and choose the Island Explorer 5 catamaran which has more stability on the water.
Other Ways to Enjoy the Water
Anacortes has a handful of great beaches. Many of the beaches are pebble, but there is a nice sandy beach at Ship Harbor Interpretive Trail near the ferry terminal and another along the trail to Lighthouse Point which has lovely views of Bowman Bay.
Kayaking is an exciting way to experience local life and see Fidalgo Island from a unique vantage point. Most kayak tour companies depart from Skyline Marina, but during the summer months, a rental stand is set up at Bowman Bay.
Travel tip: If you have never gone kayaking before, I recommend kayaking in Bowman Bay. It is one of the calmest bays on the island and makes for an easy first-time experience. Read about my kayaking experience with Anacortes Kakay Tours.
Catch Your Dinner
Having a freezer stocked with salmon, halibut and lingcod is always
Watch the Sunset and Sunrise
Anacortes has east and west facing views, and because of this, it has spectacular Cascade Mountain sunrises and San Juan Island sunsets. Cap Sante Viewpoint, Washington Park, and Mt. Erie are the most popular places to watch the sunset and the most accessible.
Travel tip: My favorite place to watch the sunset is at Sares Head, which requires a 20-minute hike. From here you’ll see Whidbey Island, the Olympic Mountains, the San Juan Islands and Vancouver Island in the distance. Read more about where to watch the sunset.
Check out the Anacortes Farmers Market
A great way to get a sense of the community, see all the foods that are produced in the Skagit Valley, and see arts and crafts made by local artisans is to stop by the Anacortes Farmers Market on Saturday. There are food vendors (some have samples), fresh-baked goods, arts and crafts, and live music.
The Anacortes Farmers Market is every Saturday from 9 am to 2 pm May through October, with seasonal openings during the rest of the year. A fun event to attend is the Pie Festival in September. You can see the schedule on their website.
Find a Favorite Mural
One of the first things you’ll notice about Anacortes is its figurine murals placed on buildings throughout town. Created by local artist Bill Mitchell, most are of important historical figures from the town’s past, but some are more recent like former Mayor Dean Maxwell.
Travel tip: Pick up an Anacortes Mural Tour map at the Visitor Center. There are over 150 murals and many are Instagram worthy. Some of my favorite murals are the Sasquatch murals created by
Discover the Town’s Fishing Heritage
In its heyday lumber mills lined the shores of Fidalgo Bay and a dozen canneries along Guemes Channel turned Anacortes into the “Salmon Canning Capital of the World.” While Anacortes maintains a working waterfront with one of the largest marinas in Western Washington and a fishing fleet, the days of milling and canning are long gone.
Sample Wild Smoked Salmon
SeaBear Wild Salmon is a long-standing Anacortes business dedicated to producing amazing smoked salmon and other seafood-related products like chowders, fillets, and ready-to-eat dinners.
SeaBear’s founder Tom Savidge invented a special pouch that preserves the smoked salmon naturally for up to four years. The pouch makes it easy to travel with, store and ship.
The smokehouse located at 605 30th Street offers daily samplings. Read more about the SeaBear store.
Experience Festivals and Live Music
Anacortes has year-round events that include festivals and live entertainment. Throughout the year you’ll find live music at Rockfish Grill and The Brown Lantern and in the summer The Heart of Anacortes.
- Spring Wine Festival (April)
- Skagit Valley Tulip Festival (April)
- Anacortes Farmers Market (May through November)
- Waterfront Festival (June)
- Port of Anacortes Summer Concert Series (July through August (free)
- Shipwreck Days (July)
- Bier on the Pier (October)
- Brewgrass! (November)
- Anacortes Coastal Christmas (December)
Where to Eat In Anacortes
Anacortes has a wide range of restaurants to choose from, and many feature fresh and local ingredients and are kid-friendly. The majority of restaurants are in historic downtown and a handful more continue uptown.
- Calico Cupboard (breakfast)
- Mary Ann’s Kitchen (breakfast)
- The Store Grocery (breakfast)
- Dad’s Diner (breakfast and lunch)
- Adrift ( breakfast, lunch, and dinner)
- Union Tavern (lunch)
- Gere-a-deli (lunch)
- Bob’s Chowder & BBQ Salmon (lunch and dinner)
- Vagabond (lunch and dinner)
- Shrimp Shack (lunch and dinner)
- Bastion Brewing Company (lunch and dinner)
- Rockfish Grill (lunch and dinner)
- Secret Cove (happy hour)
- A’Town Bistro (happy hour and dinner)
- 5th Street Bistro (happy hour and dinner)
- Anthony’s at Cap Sante Marina (happy hour and dinner)
- 13moons (happy hour and dinner)
My favorite restaurants are A’Town Bistro, 13moons, Adrift, Dad’s Diner, Bob’s Chowder & BBQ Salmon, and Vagabond. If you love muffins or cookies, The Store Grocery has the best in town.
Places to Stay in Anacortes
Anacortes has around a dozen hotels. Most are in the mid-range option, with a few budget choices and a historic luxury hotel. There are also Airbnbs, B&Bs, RV Parks (with rentable cabins), and a city park and state park campground. Hotel rates adjust seasonally and can range from $80-$150 in the offseason to $150-$250 in season.
- The Majestic Inn & Spa (historic luxury hotel in historic downtown)
- Cap Sante Inn (mid-range inn in historic downtown)
- Anacortes Ship Harbor Inn (mid-range
innnear the Anacortes ferry)
- Swinomish Casino & Lodge (casino hotel near the Swinomish Channel)
- Islands Inn (mid-range hotel with an outdoor pool)
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