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5 restaurants to try in Skagit County

There are so many reasons to visit Skagit Valley, and food is becoming one of them! Once a sleepy little farming county, Skagit is quickly becoming a destination along the northern Washington coast for amazing eats.

Take Edison as an example -- with one intersection and less than 200 residents, this little town has a main street lined with almost a dozen amazing restaurants (two are on this list)!

There's so much to love about the valley, and it was difficult to narrow down our favorites to just five. Without further ado, here are the eateries you must indulge in on your visit to Skagit County:

Photo by Tweets Cafe

Photo courtesy of Tweets Cafe

Photo courtesy of Tweets Cafe

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Tweets Cafe

website / 5800 Cains Court, Bow, WA / (360) 820-9912 / $$-$$$

Nestled on the main drag in the quiet, one-intersection town of Edison, Tweets is a breakfast favorite of folks all over the state. It’s a tiny community cafe you would expect in a town Edison’s size, but stop by during their opening hours and you’ll find it’s always filled to the brim with happy customers from near and far. And if you need another example of the quaintness of this cafe — they post their weekly menu on Instagram — handwritten! 

Tweets specializes in breakfast and lunch dishes made with high-quality, locally-sourced meats and produce, but you can also stop in for coffee and pastries if you’re just passing through. If you can, though, take a seat in their rustic dining area and stay awhile.

Photo by Mariposa Taqueria

Photo by Mariposa Taqueria

Photo by Mariposa Taqueria

Photo by Mariposa Taqueria

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A guide to our favorite ferry destinations

Is it just us or are ferry rides actually fun? There’s just too much to enjoy — from amazing views and people-watching to arriving in a whole new world, one totally isolated from the place you have come from.

Ferries are a way of life here on the Pacific Coast, and while there are a fair number of ferry commuters on some routes, most of the passengers are just like you: excited to spend the day at one of many spectacular seaside towns in Washington.

We’ve compiled a few of our favorite ferry destinations so you can find that perfect spot for a day trip, though be warned: some people stay for the rest of their lives!

Fort Casey field trip. Photo by Andy Porter Images.

Whidbey Island

20-minute journey | Departs once every hour from Mukilteo

There’s much to love about Whidbey Island, from decadent seafood to a slew of outdoor adventures and excursions. This island is large — about 170 square miles — so when we say there’s a lot to do, we aren’t kidding! Travelers can get to the island via ferry from the Mukilteo Ferry Terminal or via Deception Pass from the north. 

We highly recommend a stop at Deception Pass to explore the rugged terrain of the island up close. Make the hike (or drive) down to the shore for a calming view of the pass as it winds into Skagit Bay. For more diverse views of this island, don’t miss Ebey’s Landing National Historic Preserve and Fort Casey State Park.

Make sure to plan your trip with regard to the many festivals and events the island boasts each year! It’s a big island with much to do, so definitely check out our Whidbey Island guide for more information on how to make the most out of your time there!

Port Townsend waterfront. Photo by Rick Lawler.

Port Townsend

35-minute journey | Departs every 1-2 hours from …   More

Can’t-miss hikes in the San Juan Islands

There are so many things to love about the Pacific Northwest, from epic waterfalls and deep gorges to stunning beaches and grandiose mountains, but there is just something about the San Juan Islands that stands out.

These small communities accessible only by ferry or plane have a magical, otherworldly quality. For visitors, the island lifestyle offers both peace and inspiration. While there’s much to love about the quaint downtowns and renowned restaurants, to fully experience these islands, you’ll have to put on your hiking boots (or sandals)!

There are many outstanding hikes across the islands, but we narrowed it down to just three of our favorites. If you’ve planned a visit to the San Juan Islands — make sure you cross them off your list!

Orcas Island

Turtleback Mountain Preserve - Ship Peak Trail 

This local favorite is beloved for its distinct shape, which rises dramatically from the landscape of Orcas Island and can be spotted from various vantage points across the Pacific Coast. Yet, the experience of climbing this stunning natural vista is a truly PNW experience.

Part of an 8-mile trail network on more than 1,500 acres of preserved land, Ship Peak Trail is a moderate 3-mile moss-laden trail. It climbs slowly 860 feet through grasslands and old-growth forests defined by gnarly Garry Oaks.

Start your hike at the south trailhead to make your way to the top of the turtle’s “back,” where you’ll discover an epic panoramic view of distant mountains and the dappled island landscape of the Salish Sea.

Lopez Island

Shark Reef Sanctuary 

For Lopez Island visitors looking for easy access to the quiet, natural beauty of this small island, Shark Reef Sanctuary has much to offer. Located on the west side of Lopez Island, this stunning shoreline is accessible via a 10-minute walk through the forest and is home to a variety of sea life, including whales, sea lions, otters and a plethora …   More

Things to do on the Pacific Coast this winter

Feeling the winter Pacific Northwest blues? Well, it’s time to shake off that rainy season fog and enjoy some fabulous winter activities. The coastal beaches, mountains and islands of the Pacific Coast are some of the best places to explore and have fun— yes, even in the winter. So grab your whole family and pick an adventure below that’s fun for everyone!

1. Mountain Bike & Hike on Orcas Island

Even in winter, the quaint towns and stunning state parks of the San Juan Islands make fantastic destinations for day and weekend adventures. Check out Moran State Park on Orcas Island, where (only in the winter) you can mountain bike the wide, weaving trails through an old-growth cedar forest. If hiking is more your speed, the four-mile trail around Mountain Lake is a tranquil way to spend a morning.

2. Bring the kids sledding at Mount Baker

Looking for a kid-friendly winter snow adventure that doesn’t break the bank? Make the drive up to Mount Baker for some epic sledding in fresh powder. Take Mount Baker Highway towards Mt. Baker Ski Area and, the higher you climb, the more places there are to play in the snow! One of the most popular sledding destinations is at Picture Lake. A spectacular spot to see mountain reflections in the summer, it turns into a haven for kiddos in the winter months. And don’t forget to end the day with a well-deserved cup of hot chocolate (or two) at the ski area lodge.

3. Enjoy winter storms on San Juan Island

Aside from the stunning historic lighthouse, a key characteristic of Lime Kiln Point State Park is the jagged rocky coastline which, in the winter, features large, high-spraying waves. Enjoy an incredible view of winter weather against the backdrop of the Haro Strait or take a walk through the beautiful surrounding woodlands. The park is widely considered to be a world-class whale watching spot, so make sure to keep your eyes on the horizon for a chance to see a beautiful southern …   More

Traveling local during COVID-19? Check out these resources.

We’ve been a bit quiet over here at Waterside Magazine and for good reason! 2020 put a damper on many of our travel plans  — from epic international trips to stateside family excursions. Though 2021 looks like it will be a bit more promising, there are still many travel advisories and gathering requirements we should all be wary of before heading off on our explorations close to home.

Though almost all of our coastal communities remain open to visitors, the safest action to take during COVID-19 is to avoid non-essential travel. That being said, planning local excursions can help support businesses and assist the ailing economies of our favorite small towns.

To support this mission, we’ve compiled resources from all our Waterside communities, so you can feel confident and informed when booking your COVID-19 compliant local excursions.

** After you book, make sure to continue to stay informed and up-to-date about statewide mandates as well as the specifications of each locale.

British Columbia 

The border between Canada and the U.S. remains closed for non-essential travelers as of January 18, 2021. For Canadians looking to travel local, B.C. has issued a travel advisory asking residents to avoid any travel for social or recreational purposes until February 5 at the earliest.

Richmond, B.C.: The city has a page on their website devoted to connecting their residents with restaurant listings and adventures in their own backyard. You can also check out their informative FAQs page for clarity on how they are currently navigating COVID-19 restrictions.

Tsawwassen & Ladner, B.C.: Delta’s current campaign is “Explore Delta... Later” and their COVID-19 webpage is devoted to resources for locals. Check out their blog to learn more about tourism in Delta and to begin planning your trip for when COVID-19 restrictions are lifted.

White Rock & Surrey, B.C.: White Rock’s pier, promenade and beach …   More

5 Places to Watch the Sunset in Bellingham

Warm and sunny seasons may pass by quickly in the Pacific Northwest, but you can count on the towns along the coast for a good sunset any day of the week. Characterized by an unparalleled view of the San Juan Islands and glimpses of Point Roberts and Victoria Island, you can watch the sun dip behind Bellingham Bay from a host of stunning beaches, hills and parks.

It wasn’t easy, but we’ve narrowed down our top spots to witness this beautiful daily ritual — just make sure to check the forecast for clouds or rain showers before you go!

1. Larrabee State Park 

Larrabee State Park is a local favorite, situated along the Chuckanut Drive Scenic Byway that many consider Washington state’s Big Sur. Distinguished by towering old-growth forests, with hikes, trails, and camping for the whole family, Larrabee is our top recommendation for any new-to-Bellingham tourists. And with more than 8,000 feet of coastline, there are infinite amazing sunset-watching spots, so you’ll easily find a favorite. 

One of our top picks is Clayton Beach, a long, sandy stretch located at the southern tip of the park (though technically this beach is located in Bow). The walk to the beach from the Lost Lake parking lot takes 10-15 minutes and is not wheelchair accessible. It winds through the forest on a well-loved trail, with a slight decline as you walk over railroad tracks to the beach. We love Clayton for its stunning rock-formations and sandy beach, plus it’s also a quieter alternative to popular places such as Boulevard Park which are often overcrowded.

2. Clark’s Point

You won’t find Clark’s Point on many blog posts like this, but this hidden gem is beloved by residents of Fairhaven. Located deep in the Edgemoor Neighborhood, visitors will travel along many suburban roads to find a sign for West Clark Viewpoint. A short trail leads to a small clearing upon a rocky cliff. Visitors can enjoy watching birds and …   More

Planning vacations for "later"

Travel plans across the U.S. and the world have been canceled or postponed due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Predicting the future of this pandemic is difficult, which makes rescheduling trips tricky. This is no reason to let travel plans go completely, but rather make adaptable plans with extra free time now that can be implemented when safe and possible.

With a Stay at Home Order in effect in Washington state, people are mostly working from home, doing home improvement projects, gardening and binge watching favorite shows.

If you’re finding yourself with more free time, take a few minutes or an hour to research a vacation close to home. Although many community events have been canceled, there are still many outdoor activities like hiking, biking, climbing, exploring and camping. Washington is full of idyllic forests, beaches, lakes, rivers and mountains that can still be explored while implementing current social distancing rules and will be fully reopening when possible. When the Stay at Home order is lifted, why not have a weekend trip already planned and ready to be implemented at a moment’s notice? When cabin fever starts setting in, why not fantasize about and plan that first real trip out of the house when it is safe to do so? All the wonderful gems in our Waterside communities will be waiting for you.

Use Watersidenw.com to research the possibilities in each of our coastal communities.

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Amtrak buy one get one free sale

For a limited time, Amtrak is offering a buy one get one free promotion. Tickets must be purchased between today, January 7 and Sunday, January 12, and customers can take advantage of this offer on select routes in both coach and sleeping accommodations. Offer is valid for travel from Saturday, February 1 and Friday, June 12 except for blackout dates of April 10, April 13 and May 22–25. Use discount code (V605) when purchasing your ticket at Amtrak.com. Take this opportunity to check out some of our beautiful Waterside communities this spring! 

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