Anacortes is a beautiful city halfway between Seattle and British Columbia, and is often visited when people are headed out to the San Juan Islands. While I’ve been through it many times, I’m guilty of never spending more than a few hours in the city. As my goal this year is to explore more cities in my home state, I decided to go up to spend several days discovering the area.
The city is actually on its own island, Fidalgo Island. Most people either head north to catch the ferry to the San Juans, or go west to cross the Deception Pass Bridge to Whidbey Island. They are missing out though – there is so much to do within the island. As you know, I love a good outdoor adventure, and was happily surprised to discover all there is to do. In fact, I was outside the entire weekend besides when I was sleeping at my lovely B&B.
There are so many hikes to do around this area that I didn’t have time to do them all. Two of the most popular ones are Mount Erie and Washington Park. Mount Erie (located off Ray Auld Drive and Heart Lake Road – South of Anacortes, off Heart Lake Road) is 1270 ft high and provides amazing views from the top. Washington Park (6300 Sunset Avenue – the West end of Anacortes at Sunset Beach) is another common area for hikes, and a great place to stay if you want to camp for the weekend.
Explore Deception Pass
Deception Pass is a strait between Fidalgo Island and Whidbey Island. The bridge connects the two, and is one of the most photographed places in Washington State. The name “deception” comes from when it was first explored by Joseph Whidbey and Captain Vancouver. It was thought to be the mouth of a river due to the fast-moving water and they didn’t bother going further, hence the name. They got curious about it though and went back to explore it further, this time discovering it wasn’t a river.
There’s parking on either side of the bridge and a pedestrian bridge to walk across it. The area gives you stunning views of the ocean and other San Juan Islands. You can also follow the trail to get underneath the bridge. I’ve seen it so many times, but have to stop every time I drive by due to its beauty.
Take a Boat Tour
I’ve driven over the Deception Pass Bridge many times on my way to Whidbey Island, but haven’t ever gone underneath it. It’s known for fast-moving water and whirlpools all over the area, so it’s not advisable for the average person to take a boat down there. Luckily, the staff at Deception Pass Tours know what they’re doing. My tour guide gave me the history of the area while we were going through and pointed out sea life along the way (baby seals!).
As we got to the more narrow opening, I got nervous as I saw how fast the water was coming in and how close rocks were on either side. He sped up and turned at the last minute to go against the current, and suddenly we were safe. He pointed out what the other islands were around us, and even showed Victoria B.C. off in the distance. It’s a fun way to see the pass from a different perspective while learning a bit about it.
Discover By Kayak
If there’s ever an option to explore an area by kayak, I’m on it. It’s an active way to see an area and gives you a different point of view. On my last morning in Anacortes, I went out with a tour guide from Anacortes Kayak Tours. He took me along the coast and showed me different sights that I hadn’t noticed before, like a small cave and what some of the smaller islands were. Halfway into the tour, we were surrounded by porpoises! I’ve never seen one in the wild – they were so cute and tiny. It was a surprisingly still day on the water and perfect weather with not a cloud in sight. I highly recommend taking a tour with them if you come to Anacortes, as it’s one of the best ways to see the area in my opinion.
Take Out a Sailboat
I don’t own a sailboat, as much as I wish I did, but there were plenty to gawk at. The Cap Sante Marina has the best prices for fuel if you’re headed out for a weekend in the San Juan Islands. They also proudly have the second largest bare boat fleet in the world – pretty impressive. Even if you don’t own one, you can hire a charter for the day. Getting up as the sun is rising to go sailing sounds like the perfect day.
Enjoy the Sunset
The owner of my bed and breakfast told me to visit Cap Sante Park (1000 W Avenue at 4th St. along W Ave.) after dinner one night, and I’m so glad I did. I’m not sure there’s a better view in Anacortes for a view of the entire city. I highly recommend going at sunrise or sunset to capture the gorgeous colors of the sun setting behind the mountains. It’s an ideal place to just think and reflect, or impress someone on a first date.
Have you been to Anacortes before?
I was a guest of the Anacortes Chamber of Commerce for this tour, but all opinions are my own as always.
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