It's only an hour away, yet many tourists see Anacortes as a jumping-off spot to the San Juan Islands. Next time, make Anacortes your destination for a day of sightseeing.
Here are a few ideas on how to spend your time in Anacortes. For more suggestions, go to anacortes.org.
Hike Mount Erie: Among the more than 60 miles of trails in Anacortes and Fidalgo Island, the climb up Mount Erie offers one of the most stunning vistas of Skagit Valley, Whidbey Island and the San Juans.
Walk the waterfront: Much like Bellingham's Squalicum Harbor, Cap Sante Boat Haven is open to the public, (but unlike Squalicum Harbor, there are no locked gates). You'll see a variety of vessels, including commercial boats and live-aboards.
From the boat haven, it's a short walk to Cap Sante Park, a forested rise with views of the marina, Fidalgo Bay and the Cascade Mountains.
Browse and shop: Downtown features several antique shops and marine-supply stores near the foot of Commercial Avenue. Reserve 30 minutes just to browse Marine Supply and Hardware Co., at 202 Commercial. It's much Bellingham's Hardware Sales, but older.
Stop for a bite at Brown Lantern (great chowder) or Rockfish Grill (the home of Anacortes Brewery), also on Commercial Avenue.
Self-guided gallery walks take place 6 to 9 p.m. the first Friday of each month.
Learn history: The Anacortes Museum & Maritime Heritage Center, at one time a Carnegie Library, houses a variety of exhibits and a research library. The W. T. Preston, the last sternwheeler to work in Puget Sound, is within walking distance of the museum.
Enjoy a picnic: Drive past the cutoff to the ferry terminal and go to Washington Park for a terrific view of Guemes Channel on one side and Burrows Bay on the other. It's nice place to watch the sun set after your day in Anacortes.