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.