From shopping and music to beaches and forests, Fidalgo Island has it all


Anacortes is a small town full of art and vitality. Breathe in the salty air on the busy waterfront and enjoy the rocky beaches, a bustling downtown shopping district, lively annual festivals and 50 miles of multi-use trails.

Surrounded by water, this Waterside town – which asserts a population of less than 17,000 – has been historically a maritime city. Located on Fidalgo Island, Anacortes is connected to the mainland by a bridge over the Swinomish Channel. It is also the gateway to the San Juan Islands  via the Washington state ferry system. With opportunities for boating, camping and hiking, visitors seeking to connect with nature will have no shortage of activities. Seafarers’ Memorial Park is a favorite launch spot with locals. The peninsula on the western edge of the island is home to Washington Park, a 220-acre city park with beaches, a boat launch and camping.

There is no shortage of whale watching tour companies, fishing charters, or boat rentals. The Cap Sante Marina has 100 berths for guest moorage along with repair facilities, fuel docks and complimentary bicycles, all just blocks from downtown.

While the town’s water access is breathtaking, the forests surrounding Anacortes are just as special. Anacortes Community Forest Lands is comprised of 2,950 acres of woods, wetlands, lakes and meadows, all within city limits. The rocky dome of Mt. Erie and idyllic Heart Lake are some extraordinary woodland gems. Mt. Erie’s summit offers a spectacular view of the San Juan Islands and you can even drive to the top if you’d rather not hike the trail to the 1,273-foot peak. For hikers, a map is a must, as the trails tend to intertwine. Maps are available online and at nearby businesses.

Downtown, you’ll find murals from the Anacortes Mural Project lining the red brick buildings, antique shops, restaurants, marine supply stores and bookshops up and down Commercial Street. Life-sized murals of characters from Anacortes’ past add splashes of color to the city center. You can stroll past paintings of turn-of-the-century luminaries such as Anne and Tommy Thompson, who founded the Anacortes Railway. The muralist himself, Bill Mitchell, who passed away in 2019, is depicted on O Avenue. Mitchell gave back to the city in many ways, from his ambitious mural project to collecting town history and working to save historic buildings.

Local music and nightlife energizes the downtown as the sun sets. Dining options range from delis and pizzerias to upscale seafood restaurants.

Anacortes hosts a varied menu of festivals throughout the year. The Anacortes Arts Festival, held in downtown Anacortes from August 4-6, 2023, has celebrated art in Anacortes since 1962. The festival features an organized run, nearly nonstop music performances, beer gardens, as well as artists and craftspeople displaying sculptures, textile art, jewelry, photography, paintings and more. Other annual events happening in 2023 include Anacortes Shipwreck Festival and Bier on the Pier, a lively event with more than 40 breweries, cideries and food trucks.

Whether Anacortes is the destination, or tourists find themselves with a few hours to kill before catching a ferry into the great beyond, the fresh air, bold murals, charming shops, and natural beauty promise to relax and refresh visitors.

For more information, visit

Anacortes Kids Corner

Fun and Free: Anacortes Public Library (a Family Place Library)

Water access: Sunset Beach

Playground: Storvik Park

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Whidbey Island

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La Conner

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Mount Vernon

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