La Conner

1800s waterfront community turned arts enclave

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A colorful town on the Swinomish Channel, La Conner woos visitors from far and wide with tangerine sunsets and a hankering for art, architecture and history.

The mouth of the Swinomish Channel has been inhabited for thousands of years. White settlers flocked to the area in the late 1800s for logging and fishing; by the turn of the century La Conner had a population of about 1,000 and was the seat of Skagit County. Over a century later, it’s no longer the county seat and the population is still about 1,000, making it an alluring small town with big history.

In the 1940s and ‘50s, renowned artists settled in town, taking to abandoned cabins on the banks of the Skagit River and calling their art colony “Fishtown.” That artistic spirit lives on – its influence is evident in colorful historic buildings and the town’s museums.

Stroll through downtown and you’ll find yourself drawn to the boardwalk along the Swinomish, which was completed in 2015 and adds waterfront access and ambience to La Conner. The red-orange Rainbow Bridge, a national landmark spanning the shimmering Swinomish Channel, embellishes the skyline on one side of the boardwalk while Mt. Baker dominates the other.

For the full La Conner experience, step off land for a kayak tour or rental. The channel provides ideal paddling for beginners and there’s much to explore beyond. Afterward, enjoy fresh seafood offered at a restaurant overlooking the water. Pair your oysters, clams or salmon with romantic sunset views over Fidalgo Island.

Head to the Pacific Northwest Quilt and Fiber Arts Museum to see luxurious textile work by local and international artists and then stop by the Skagit County Historical Museum for exhibits on the town’s origins and Native American culture. The Museum of Northwest Art tells stories through exhibitions dedicated to local contemporary, modern and abstract art. Looking for more? Art gallery tours are held throughout the summer.

La Conner blooms in the spring and visitors buzz like bees to its daffodil fields. In March, cyclists don their best clothing – think English country style – for the Tweed Ride, a celebration of spring’s arrival. In August, La Conner shows off the best on land and water at the Classic Boat & Car Show and the Brew on the Slough beer festival is slated for October 19, 2019.

In the off chance you find yourself looking for more to do, the La Conner Chamber of Commerce has a list of 101 ideas.

For more information, visit lovelaconner.com.

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