Anacortes Delivers Small Town Star Power

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ANACORTES, WASHINGTON: A’TOWN DELIVERS SMALL TOWN STAR POWER
By Linda Kissam ‘Food, Wine & Shopping Diva’

Big stories can happen in small places. When was the last time you spent time in a great small town?  Small town America calls my name.  I love shining a light on one of the best vacation experiences available. One of my choices for the best small towns this summer in the USA is Anacortes, or as the locals call it, “A’ Town.”

At the edge of America’s Northwest region,  about 1.5 hours from the Canadian border, this Washington town boasts all the charms of a rustic yet refined locale without the crowds and high price tags of its larger neighbor 2 hours to the south, Seattle.

This city is a working community that is an important destination in itself. The Port of Anacortes, a natural deep water port, offers facilities for shipping to the Pacific Rim, Canada, and Alaska. A port tenant, Dakota Creek Industries operates a major shipbuilding and repair facility located between the Port’s Piers 1 and 2 by providing skilled workers, modern equipment and convenient access to goods and services. The Port Authority is forecasting up to 5000 cruise ship passengers will dock in Anacortes in 2018. Walk the docks to experience a seafaring adventure town.

Anacortes is also a boater’s paradise. Five marinas support thousands of boaters. Cap Sante, an up-to-date spacious marina has over 950 slips. The small town supports the boating community with everything a skipper could want. Most of the stores are walking distance from the marinas.

Spring, fall and summer are filled with monthly festivals taking place on the main street (Commercial Ave) and the pier at the end of Commercial Ave.  The summer Farmer’s Market takes place each Saturday.  Don’t miss it.

Whether you come by car, ferry, Uber, bike, bus, or boat, you’ll find that the main street is easily walkable. I suggest you stay a couple of days to explore the wealth of attractions.  Lodging is plentiful, but not always visible from the road.  I can highly recommend The Majestic Hotel which sits smack in the middle of the main town. It’s walking distance to all dining, shopping, art galleries, antique shops, bars and unique one-of-a kind stores.

When you’re not exploring Commercial Ave, think about booking a whale watching tour, a kayaking day trip or renting a sail or power boat. Birding, fishing, crabbing, hiking or biking are also fun activities. Do not miss exploring Washington Park.  It’s one of the most beautiful world-class city parks I have ever seen. The two-mile walking/driving loop is a must do.

Here are my suggestions for a two-day stay in Anacortes. I’ve personally tried everything on this list. Did I tell you that six months a year I live on a 42’ Grand Banks cruiser in Cap Sante Marina? It’s a great town, well deserved of your attention.

THE BASICS IN TOWN

Lodging: Majestic Inn & Spa. A luxe historic boutique hotel serves as a base for six island and day-trip excursions within a one-hour radius. Walking distance to all local shops and restaurants.  There are two buildings to this lovely hotel.  The updated historic one and a newer building that also houses a view-laden rooftop bar.  Cocktails or beer, they’re all special. All rooms are great.  Some are more roomy and pricey than others, a couple of the suites require walking up a flight of stairs, so check out their website for the best fit for you.  My room was on the 5th floor of the historic building. It came with a view and a unique ability to make my own French-pressed coffee. I was very impressed with this hotel.

Breakfast: Island Café. Think small town diner in a historic brick building. Big town flavors are creative, fresh, affordable and delicious. Expect large portions.  Highly recommend for breakfast and dinner. Try the taco salad for lunch. As an alternative, Dad’s Diner or Calico Cupboard Cafe & Bakery.

Lunch: Rockfish Bar & Grill.  A local’s favorite, make your first visit on a weekday or lunch.  Weekends are impressively crowded.  Known for its Northwest cuisine, the fish and chips has to be one of the most requested items on the menu.  Easily sharable, don’t miss this place. Cocktails, handcrafted beers and so on – all noteworthy.

Pick Me Up: Island Smoothie.  Located across the street from The Majestic Inn, this is a women-run establishment.  You’ll love the two sisters who make this place sing with flavor and hospitality. My special indulgence is lemonade. The ladies make it fresh on-demand an incredible $3.00 for 20 ounces. Lemonade not your thing?  They make all kinds of healthy and delicious drinks. Suggestions are on the wall or just ask for your favorite concoction.

Drinks: Rooftop Bar at the Majestic. Oooh and awe.  This place is special.  Traditional and daily special cocktails, beer and wine.  Small but mighty hors d’oeuvres. Open 4 pm until sunset.  The views are worth the price of a drink.

Dinner: A’Town Bistro. Another locals favorite and for good reason.  The regular and bar menus are creative and solid. If you love clam chowder, you’re going to “have a moment” with theirs.  Made-from-scratch at the time you place the order.  The clams are left in their shells.  The broth is divine. The wait staff is knowledgeable and engaged.  Just sayin’…


ACTIVITIES NO MORE THAN 30 MINUTES AWAY

Anacortes Kayak Tours: Talking about having a moment, this was mine.  This was my first time in a kayak.  I wasn’t sure kayaking was for me. What if I couldn’t get in or out of the kayak and the challenge of a three-hour ride was beyond my strength? I needn’t have worried. This company was prepared for my type, and the experienced ones too. They made it seem all too easy.  They understood how to coach me through my anxieties. I easily made the three-hour tour.  Now, to be honest, I did have a gorgeous, buff young guide –in- training alongside me in  the two-seater kayak.  But I think, with all the guidance and gear supplied, I might have been able to handle the tour with most anyone in the back seat, I just felt more confidant with Mr. Buff having my back.  Great activity for any age group or activity level.  Highly recommend.

Deception Pass Boat Tour: Everyone wants to see Deception Pass, the Bridge and Deception Pass State Park. It’s big, bold and iconic. For as little as $39.99 you can board a fast jet boat that gives you an insider’s view from the water.  Let others walk the bridge while you cruise the waters in, under and around it. It’s a safe thrill ride with wildlife and historical views, and just 30 minutes from downtown. .

Washington State Park: Can you say WOW?  I sure did. This is a world-class city park showing the best of what the Northwest has to offer.  Big glorious trees, pristine shoreline, camping, walking trails, a 2-mile driving loop and meditative outlooks from a plethora of well-placed benches.  This is a don’t miss it opportunity. Free, and just 13 minutes from downtown..

Farmer’s Market: Starting in spring and just 5 minutes walking from the Majestic Inn, enjoy this locals favorite open air market.  Come early to enjoy the best selection on fresh local flowers, fruits and vegetables, coffee, bakery items and crafts.

First Friday Art Tour: Walk out the door of the Majestic Inn. Whether you turn right or left, you’re in the middle of the art walk. Taking place 6-9 pm, meet local artists and discover their unique paintings, jewelry, soft sculpture, pottery and more.


For additional information call the Visitor Information Center at 360-293-3832 or visit https://anacortes.org/. The Visitors Center is located on Commercial Ave at 9th Street.

Author’s Note: As is normal for travel writers, a portion of my trip to discover Anacortes was sponsored. In no way did this sponsorship influence my article.  This destination is wonderful, it can stand on its own merits.

Linda Kissam ‘Food, Wine & Shopping Diva’ is a professional travel, food, and wine writer based out of Southern California, who specializes in easy, breezy destination stories sharing her favorite things about the places she visits. Visit www.AllInGoodTaste.info.


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About the Author:

Linda Kissam ‘Food, Wine & Shopping Diva’ is a professional travel, food, and wine writer based out of Southern California, who specializes in easy, breezy destination stories sharing her favorite things about the places she visits.

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