Adventure down the rustic highway

Bow, Edison and Chuckanut

A serpentine stretch of road connects the artisanal hubs of Fairhaven and Bow-Edison. Travelers can start their journey on Chuckanut Drive on the edge of the city limits of Bellingham and continue on for 21 miles with a surplus of scenic stops along the way.

Incorporated into the state highway system in 1895, Chuckanut Drive winds its way with  evergreen covered hills on one side and stunning marine views on the other. Drivers should take the opportunity to walk on some of the trails, art galleries and restaurants lining the drive. Just outside of Fairhaven, visitors can peruse the glass artworks and sculpture garden at the Chuckanut Bay Gallery. Keep your eyes on the winding road but take advantage of the frequent picturesque and panoramic lookout points.

Hikers, bikers and runners frequent the roadside and trailheads. On any given day, there can be a cycling race, usually supporting a charitable cause. Adventurers can amble down to the seaside at spots like Teddy Bear Cove or climb up the slopes of the Chuckanut Mountains via the Interurban Trail to Fragrance Lake or the Pine and Cedar trails. One of the area’s most favorite hikes, Oyster Dome, offers walkers a five-mile round trip trek.

All these exertions can make anyone hungry, but luckily there is a selection of high quality eating spots further down the highway. The largest aquaculture producer in the United States, Taylor Shellfish Farm, boasts tide to table seafood. Customers can purchase items from their market to take home or dine in their oyster bar. Nearby, travelers will find The Oyster Bar, which sports intimate dining rooms with views of the San Juan Islands and an award-winning wine list. A few miles down, tourists and locals love to brunch at the Chuckanut Manor, which is also home to Sammy the Loch Ness Monster.

The bookends of any Chuckanut Drive journey are the towns of Bow and Edison. Turning off onto Bow Hill Road one can explore the trove of artisan shops, restaurants and cafes. Bow Hill Blueberries grows and sells organic, heirloom blueberries, Breadfarm offers a variety of rustic baked goods and Slough Food hawks local fare and European imports. For sit-down meals, the options include the Mariposa Taqueria, the homespun selection at Tweet’s Cafe or pub fare at the Longhorn Saloon. Any lover of the arts will feel at home with stops at the Smith & Vallee Gallery and Cabinet Makers and the Lucky Dumpster antique shop.

After stopping in Bow and its sister town of Edison, one can continue down the Chuckanut through the Skagit Valley. Plenty of roadside vendors still appear in front of the views of rolling acres of farmland before the road reaches Burlington and reconnects with Interstate 5.

Suggested Itinerary

Bow, Edison and the Chuckanuts will offer a rustic weekend full of farm-to-table food at the local eateries, some serious hiking or biking along the Skagit roadways, as well as relaxation in pastoral cabin in the woods by the water.

Start off with a hearty breakfast around 9 a.m. at Tweets Café in Bow. Food critics rave about the seasonal menu, the inventiveness of the food as well as the bountiful servings. Once fueled up, head on over to Slough Food for some sandwiches to go, fill up your water bottles, and jump in the car for an Oyster Dome hike.

The Oyster Dome hiking trail is on Chuckanut Drive, a 21-mile road connecting Bellingham to Skagit Valley. The hike to Oyster Dome is 6.5 miles with a ranking of moderate difficulty. Enjoy the views throughout the hike, but once at the top, be sure to pull out those Slough Food sandwiches and enjoy the breathtaking views of Samish Bay over lunch.

Once descended from the mountain, it will be time to drive down to Bay View State Park to settle into a Bay View Cabin for the night. These rustic cabins nestled in the wood have views overlooking the water (just make sure to make reservations before the trip). Get settled in, take a nap, read a book and relax. Around dinnertime, dress up a little and take a sunset drive down Chucknut to The Oyster Bar for dinner. This restaurant has been a local favorite for years with seasonal-inspired menus and fresh seafood.

In the morning, take a stroll around camp before heading  into Bow Edison around 8 a.m. for some breakfast treats at the Breadfarm. These tantalizing treats and breads are shipped all over Whatcom and Skagit county.

With Skagit’s bike map in hand, hop onto your bikes and head out onto the beautiful farmlands. Cruise back into Bow Edison for a look at some beautiful galleries like Smith & Valley and have a little lunch at Mariposa Taqueria, which boasts a wonderful twist on Mexican food. With full bellies and lots of outdoor living memories enjoy the views on  the ride home.

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