Anacortes is one of the Pacific Northwest's top spots for boating and nature activities, best known as the destination port for several of the San Juan Islands' top ferry lines. The vibrant seaside town, which is located halfway between Seattle and Vancouver, spans 15 square miles throughout Fidalgo Island, more than half of which has been set aside as public park land and recreational waters. Visitors can enjoy a plethora of outdoor recreational opportunities, including whale watching tours, kayak excursions, and overnight marine camping opportunities at nearby Skagit Island Marine State Park. The city's historic downtown district is lined with quirky art galleries, antique shops, and hip dining destinations serving up international cuisine options.
Washington Park is a gorgeous 220-acre city park at Fidalgo Island's western end, extending from western Anacortes into Rosario Strait. The park, which is a popular site for day-use recreation throughout the summer months, is home to picturesque Sunset Beach, which offers a boat launch, children's playground area, and reservable picnic shelters. Additional day-use picnic sites are available at Green Point, where visitors can embark on a 2.3-mile hiking loop journey and enjoy unparalleled views of Burrows Bay, the San Juan Islands, and the nearby Olympic Mountain range. 68 overnight campsites are available, including a reservable group tent site and RV hookup areas.
6300 Sunset Ave, Anacortes, WA 98221, Phone: 360-293-1918
2.Cap Sante Park
Cap Sante Park is a lushly-forested 37-acre park along Anacortes' eastern edge, known for its stunning overlook views of Fidalgo Bay, March Point, and the Cascade Mountains. The park, which is located above the Cap Sante Boat Haven Marina, is a popular family-friendly recreation site throughout the summer months. A short mile-long roundtrip hiking trail traverses grassy stretches and glacial outcroppings as it gains 100 feet in elevation, passing by a thickly-forested area that is home to day-use picnic sites. At the trail's end, visitors can enjoy unparalleled views of nearby Mounts Erie and Baker. Remains of a former amphitheater are showcased on the park's eastern banks, making for interesting photo opportunities.
1000 W Avenue, Anacortes, WA 98221, Phone: 360-293-1918
Mount Erie frames the skyline of Skagit County, known as one of the Anacortes area's most recognizable landmarks. The mountain is believed to have been formed during the Jurassic Period and was named in modern times by members of the Wilkes Expedition in 1841. Since the 1960s, it has been a popular climbing spot in Washington State, offering stunning panoramic views of its surrounding areas from its summit. Its surrounding lands are operated as a city park by the City of Anacortes and are accessible by hikers throughout the year. Visitors can climb a moderately-strenuous trail to the top of the summit or connect to the Sugarloaf Summit Trail halfway through the climb for additional panoramic views.
Rosario Beach is a beautiful sandy cove along the southwestern edge of Fidalgo Island, known for its extensive beachfront stretches and charming wildlife. The beach area is believed to have been occupied for at least 3,000 years, originally used by regional Coast Salish Samish indigenous tribes as a hunting and fishing site. Today, the beach's Maiden of Deception Pass story pole carvings honor Samish legends connected to the beach area, a remnant of development of the area in the 1930s by the Civilian Conservation Corps. A former kitchen shelter developed by the CCC has been converted into a field classroom today. Gorgeous century-old trees frame the beachfront, while an overlooking meadowy bluff is populated by beautiful wildflowers throughout the summer months.
5.Tommy Thompson Trail
Tommy Thompson Trail is a gorgeous 3.3-mile out-and-back blacktop trail spanning between the Port of Anacortes and March Point, offering unparalleled views of Mount Baker. The ADA-accessible trail easily accommodates wheelchairs and strollers, making it a great recreation choice for visitors with mobility concerns or families spanning multiple generations. Its path meanders along an abandoned railroad trestle and traverses the western shoreline of Fidalgo Bay, offering opportunities to see regional marine life such as blue herons and sea lions. Accessible restrooms are offered along the route, along with unique trailside attractions such as a colorful totem pole. In all, the trail only gains 25 feet of elevation throughout its course, making it an easy walk for hikers of all ability levels.
6.Swinomish Casino and Lodge
© Swinomish Casino and Lodge
Swinomish Casino and Lodge is Anacortes' premiere destination for gaming, located overlooking the beautiful natural landscape of Padilla Bay, Swinomish Channel, and the San Juan Islands. Visitors can enjoy top casino games 24 hours a day at the resort, including a full gaming floor stocked with more than 800 of the most recent high-tech slot machines. Top table games such as craps, roulette, blackjack, keno, and pai gow also offer opportunities for testing luck and strategy for big payouts. All of the resort's 98 stylish guest rooms and suites are decorated in honor of the area's Swinomish indigenous heritage, showcasing local artwork and luxurious amenities. Resort guests can also hit the green at Swinomish Golf Links or enjoy delicious international cuisine options at their choice of the resort's six full-service restaurants and bars.
12885 Casino Dr, Anacortes, WA 98221, Phone: 888-288-8883
7.Little Cranberry Lake
© Brayden Sauve/stock.adobe.com
Little Cranberry Lake is a picturesque lake on Fidalgo Island, located within the 2,800-acre Anacortes Community Forest Lands natural preserve. The lake, which is the anchor of a 10-mile wilderness corridor within the lovely city, was originally only a small pond but was deepened twice by damming in the early 20th century. Today, it has become a popular natural swimming site in northwestern Washington State, best known for hosting the annual What the Heck Fest summer music festival. More than 20 miles of wilderness trails are accessible near the lake, perfect for hiking and mountain biking through the area's spectacular second-growth forest terrain and spotting rare orchid varieties.
8.Anacortes Farmers Market
Anacortes Farmers Market brings diverse crowds and entertainment to Anacortes' historic downtown district each Saturday morning between May and October. The market is hosted on the spacious town plaza at 7th Street and R Avenue, located adjacent to the Depot Community and Arts Center. Visitors can sample the bounty of the Skagit Valley and shop for locally-cultivated produce, farm-fresh meats, wild-caught seafood, and a plethora of pantry and baked goods made by local vendors. An artist's market area showcases the creations of local artisans and crafters, ranging from apparel and accessories to fine arts, ceramics, and mosaics. Local food and beverage vendors sell coffee and specialty foods throughout the morning, while regional musicians take to the market stage around 10:00am each week. In addition to the main season market, a special holiday farmer's market event is held each year in November at the Port Warehouse.
9.Cap Sante Marina
Cap Sante Marina, also known as the Port of Anacortes, is a spacious marina and port-of-entry within Fidalgo Bay, located adjacent to Anacortes' historic downtown district. The marina serves as the primary waterfront entryway to the charming city, which is known as one of the Pacific Northwest's top destinations for boaters. 950 slips are offered for vessels up to 120 feet in size, along with up to 200 berths for guest moorage. Fuel, bait, ice, and snacks are sold at Fido's Fuel Dock, with offers a floating pump-out station. Restrooms, showers, and laundry service are also available for marina guests, along with night security locks for vessels. Restaurants, grocery stores, and entertainment options are all located within easy walking distance of the marina within historic downtown Anacortes. The marina is open to the public seven days a week throughout the morning and afternoon hours.
100 Commercial Ave, Anacortes, WA, 98221, Phone: 360-293-0694
10.Predators of the Heart
Predators of the Heart is a unique exotic animal refuge located on 10 acres of old-growth forest land within the city of Anacortes, known as one of the Pacific Northwest's most renowned animal experiences and touring companies. The refuge, which was established in 1998, is home to a wide variety of rescued wild animals, ranging from cougars, wolves, and bobcats to exotic reptile species and native birds of prey. All animals are rescued from difficult circumstances and housed within a USDA-licensed facility kept to top standards to ensure animal happiness and safety. Two-hour Wolf Encounter experiences can be booked at the facility through AirBnB, giving participants a chance to walk alongside wolf ambassadors Kakoa and Max and learn about the company's operations. Tours are offered Mondays through Saturdays for participants ages 18 and older.
4709 Welch Ln, Anacortes, WA 98221, Phone: 360-770-7479
11.John Storvik Park
John Storvik Park is a lovely 8.7-acre public park in Anacortes, named in honor of early city resident and Coos Bay Pulp Mill shareholder John Storvik. The charming park, which is located on 32nd Street near Commercial Avenue, is known for its imaginative community-built playground designed with the help of area children. Nautical and maritime-themed play equipment includes suspended bridges and play ferries, incorporated with fantasy-themed elements such as climbing castle towers and a stage for children to perform on. A marine adventure-themed spray pad, installed in 2017, is operated throughout the summer months. Other attractions include two basketball courts, a multipurpose youth soccer field, and day-use picnic sites.
1110 32nd St, Anacortes, WA 98221, Phone: 360-293-1918
12.The Maritime Heritage Center
© The Maritime Heritage Center
The Maritime Heritage Center preserves the maritime history and industry of northwest Washington State, offering museum exhibits related to shoreline activities throughout the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The museum's main exhibit is the preserved W.T. Preston snagboat, which was constructed in 1882 and was the final sternwheeler to operate along the Puget Sound at its decommissioning in 1983. As one of only two snagboats of its kind remaining in the United States, the boat was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1979 and can be explored today at the museum as part of regular guided tours. Free museum exhibits also tell the story of the region's boat building, shipping, milling, and cannery industries, open to the public for exploration on select days between April and October.
703 R Avenue, Anacortes, WA 98221, Phone: 360-293-1915
Sharpe Park is a gorgeous county park on Fidalgo Island, located adjacent to the island's section of Deception Pass State Park. The park offers stunning views of nearby Deception Pass and is known as a top hiking spot within the Anacortes area. Visitors can hike through a plethora of shoreline forest trails ranging in difficulty from moderately-easy family-friendly trails to extreme experiences for seasoned hikers. Diverse landscapes showcase mosses, wildflowers, and ferns underneath a canopy of deciduous and coniferous forest area, which is home to native species such as red-winged blackbirds, hooded mergansers, osprey, and bald eagles. Hikers can also catch glimpses of nearby marine life such as harbor porpoises and migratory songbirds. Trail maps are available online to help hikers plan their excursions.
14676 Rosario Rd, Anacortes, WA 98221
14.Ship Harbor Interpretive Preserve
Ship Harbor Interpretive Preserve, commonly referred to as SHIP, is one of Anacortes' most unique attractions, located adjacent to the city's state ferry terminal. The interpretive exhibit showcases a network of trails and boardwalks that meander through the area's freshwater wetlands, showcasing interpretive signs detailing the area's flora and fauna. Exhibit areas also detail land use and culture of the area's indigenous Samish people, the arrival of Europeans to the Pacific Northwest, and Fidalgo Island's extensive salmon fishing and canning industry history. At the end of the interpretive trail, visitors can relax along a 2,000-foot beach, which is populated by subtidal eelgrass beds and a variety of marine life.
Edwards Way, Anacortes, WA 98221, Phone: 360-293-1918
15.Skagit Island Marine State Park
Skagit Island Marine State Park is a lovely 25-acre public recreation area on Skagit Island, accessible via boat from nearby Fidalgo Island and Deception Pass State Park's Cornet Bay. The quaint San Juan Islands park is one of the region's top marine camping sites, offering primitive campsite areas and mooring buoys to hook boats up for water camping. Lush forested areas and spacious meadows make for beautiful scenery for exploration, traversed by the Cascadia Marine Trail. A public beach area is also available throughout the warmer months. A vault toilet is offered for public use, though visitors should note that no potable water or garbage services are offered on the island.
Skagit Island, Anacortes, WA 98221, Phone: 360-675-3767
16.Calico Cupboard Cafe and Bakery
© Calico Cupboard Café and Bakery
Calico Cupboard Café and Bakery is a delicious restaurant microchain offering several locations throughout northwest Washington State, including an Anacortes location that was originally opened in 1992 by baker and chef Linda Freed. The charming homestyle restaurant prepares all of its traditional entrees from scratch in house, using fresh-milled organic flours and grains in all of its baked goods. Hearty focaccia and deli sandwiches are served up throughout the afternoon hours, prepared with fresh produce, locally-sourced meats, and health-conscious toppings and condiments. All-day breakfast menus highlight favorites such as egg scrambles, creative hash platters, breakfast burritos, and old-fashioned Irish oatmeal. A selection of Pacific Northwest wines and microbrews are available to complement all meals, along with brunch drinks such as mimosas and espresso beverages.
901 Commercial Ave, Anacortes, WA 98221, Phone: 360-293-7315
17.Anthony's at Cap Sante Marina
© Anthony's at Cap Sante Marina
Anthony's at Cap Sante Marina is a popular chain of Pacific Northwest restaurants and cafes, originally founded in Bellevue in 1969. Today, the delightful chain operates dozens of dinner houses and casual dining destinations throughout the Puget Sound area, including a cabana location at the Cap Sante Marina, which opened in 2016. Diners can enjoy delicious entrees prepared with fresh Northwest seafood and produce, including favorites such as prawns tempura, Dungeness crab cakes, Penn Cove mussels and fries, and the restaurant's signature Alaska lingcod and chips. A selection of craft Washington wines and microbrews is served up alongside entrees, available at happy hour pricing twice daily. After meals, diners can enjoy play at two regulation-size outdoor bocce ball courts or lounge by the fireside on the restaurant's year-round covered outdoor deck.
1207 Q Avenue, Anacortes, WA 98221, Phone: 360-588-0333
© Rockfish Grill
Rockfish Grill is a family-friendly bar and gastropub in Anacortes' Old Town district, known for its high-quality bar fare and delicious brick-oven pizzas. Diners can enjoy excellent Northwest cuisine at lunch and dinner daily, including individually-sized wood-fired pizzas prepared with toppings such as pineapple, roasted garlic, Gorgonzola cheese, and smoked salmon. Excellent creative burger choices are also served, along with traditional pub entrees such as shepherd's pie and a wide range of shareable appetizers. A full slate of craft beers are brewed on site year-round, ranging from traditional favorites such as the company's Annie's Amber Ale to experimental beers such as Cream Bee, brewed with locally-sourced Pacific Northwest honey. Live music performances are presented weekly at the restaurant, showcasing top national and regional acts.
320 Commercial Ave, Anacortes, WA 98221, Phone: 360-588-1720
19.Frida's Gourmet Mexican Cuisine
© Frida's Gourmet Mexican Cuisine
Frida's Gourmet Mexican Cuisine is an authentic Mexican-style restaurant in Anacortes, named in honor of famed 20th-century Mexican artist Frida Kahlo. In the tradition of Kahlo's avant-garde artistic statements and the classic paintings of her husband, artist Diego Rivera, the restaurant serves up traditional Mexican recipes alongside inventive modern fare. Diners can enjoy unique gourmet entrees named in honor of prominent Mexican painters and cultural figures, including Chicken Dolores Olmedo, prepared with pineapple and roasted coconut sauce, or Steak Gerardo Murillo, which pairs pan-sauteed skirt steak filets with habanero sauce and tequila. Traditional entrees range from hearty chimichangas and tamales to mole burritos and chipotle enchiladas. A selection of Pacific Northwest wines and beers is available for pairing, along with a list of more than 100 specialty Mexican tequilas.
416 1/2 Commercial Ave, Anacortes, WA 98221, Phone: 360-299-2120
20.Swinomish Sports Bar and Grill
© Swinomish Sports Bar and Grill
Swinomish Sports Bar and Grill is the signature restaurant of the Swinomish Casino and Lodge, known for its immerse sports-themed design and hearty American-style entrees. Diners can enjoy locally-inspired pub fare at lunch, dinner, and late-night service, ranging from personal 10-inch gourmet pizzas to homestyle pulled pork, beef brisket, and pecan-smoked baby-back rib barbecue platters. Creative burgers and sandwiches include pork belly bánh mis, brisket Philly cheesesteaks, and short rib grilled cheese sandwiches. Diners can also share inventive appetizers such as Dungeness crab artichoke dip or select from land and sea specialties such as shrimp diablo or fish and chips platters. The restaurant's full-service bar is open 24/7, serving up draft brews, Pacific Northwest wines, and fine cocktails.
12885 Casino Dr, Anacortes, WA 98221, Phone: 888-288-8883
20 Best Things to Do in Anacortes, WA
- Washington Park, Photo: Patricia/stock.adobe.com
- Cap Sante Park, Photo: amenohi/stock.adobe.com
- Mount Erie, Photo: adonis_abril/stock.adobe.com
- Rosario Beach, Photo: Patricia/stock.adobe.com
- Tommy Thompson Trail, Photo: CascadeCreatives/stock.adobe.com
- Swinomish Casino and Lodge, Photo: Swinomish Casino and Lodge
- Little Cranberry Lake, Photo: Brayden Sauve/stock.adobe.com
- Anacortes Farmers Market, Photo: eqroy/stock.adobe.com
- Cap Sante Marina, Photo: amenohi/stock.adobe.com
- Predators of the Heart, Photo: annapimages/stock.adobe.com
- John Storvik Park, Photo: Rawpixel.com/stock.adobe.com
- The Maritime Heritage Center, Photo: The Maritime Heritage Center
- Sharpe Park, Photo: weedezign/stock.adobe.com
- Ship Harbor Interpretive Preserve, Photo: SimplyForLoveofLife/stock.adobe.com
- Skagit Island Marine State Park, Photo: adonis_abril/stock.adobe.com
- Calico Cupboard Cafe and Bakery, Photo: Calico Cupboard Café and Bakery
- Anthony's at Cap Sante Marina, Photo: Anthony's at Cap Sante Marina
- Rockfish Grill, Photo: Rockfish Grill
- Frida's Gourmet Mexican Cuisine, Photo: Frida's Gourmet Mexican Cuisine
- Swinomish Sports Bar and Grill, Photo: Swinomish Sports Bar and Grill
- Cover Photo: TS Schofield/stock.adobe.com