Anacortes WA is the largest town on Fidalgo Island in the Puget Sound on the northern tip of the island off State Route 20 in Skagit County. Anacortes sits on Fidalgo Harbor and is a gateway to the San Juan Islands and Canada. This is where the international ferry departs from and taking the ferry there is a Northwest experience in and of itself. This coastal community has an old school, walkable downtown with historical art and murals commemorating the settlers who came to Fidalgo Island. The downtown is filled with coffee shops, cafes, boutiques, and several life-size art pieces scattered around the downtown. Anacortes has whale watching tours, kayaking, sailing, boating, fishing, hiking, and biking. This is an outdoor adventure town on the island that has lots to do. The city itself is only 15 miles about half of which is public parks.
How to get there
Take State Route 20 either from the mainland heading west or from Whidbey Island coming from the south. This becomes the main street of Anacortes downtown area.
Things to do in Anacortes
Since Anacortes WA is only a 20-minute drive from Whidbey island. This is a great half day trip to walk around the cute old fashioned downtown area. The main street is called Commercial Ave and has all the great cute boutique shops, book stores, and coffee shops. Alley cat Vintage Decor, Watermark Book Co, and Pelican Bay Books & Coffeehouse are a couple of the highlights. You can get a special treat at Gelato Coffee. Calico Cupboard is a great place for lunch or Gere-a-Deli, a local sandwich diner owned by the mayor. A Town Bistro is a popular farm-to-table restaurant that serves craft beers on tap and if you are looking for seafood, you can check out Adrift. Finally, if you are looking for a view of the city, you can check out Cap Sante Park, which is a park that overlooks Fidalgo Bay and Anacortes Harbor.
San Juan Islands Day trip
Anacortes is a gateway city to the San Juan Islands and is the perfect spot to have a day trip getaway. The Anacortes ferry is easy to use and a great option to get to the other neighboring islands. Walking and biking onto the ferry is cheaper than driving on with a car. The ferry is about 1.5 hours to Friday Harbor on San Juan Island, and the whole island only takes about 30 minutes to drive to the other end in Roche Harbor. This is a small charming island to explore.
Read my full guide to the San Juan Islands here.
Deception Pass Day Trip
Deception Pass State Park is the number one visited park in WA state and is a gorgeous green bridge over deep waters and evergreen island cliffs. This park has beautiful hiking trails, lakes, and bays. This is about a 35-minute drive from Anacortes and a great place to get in the outdoors, kayak, hike, camp, swim, or fish in the ocean.
Anacortes Farmers Market
This is the best farmers market on Fidalgo Island. The market is held near Rotary Park on the cross streets of “R” ave and 7th street. They have a winter and summer market as well as a holiday market and pie festival in the fall. The summer market is my favorite because the sun is shining and there are live bands and free open concerts, as well as lots of tables set up for outdoor eating at the various food trucks. The summer market is every Saturday 9am-2pm May 4-October 26 and the winter market is 2nd Saturdays 9am-2pm. The pie festival is September 21 and the holiday market is November 23 and 24. The full farmer’s market schedule and events can be found here.
Lopez Island Creamery/ Ice Cream Truck
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Bowls are good and cones are great but we’ve got something even better! Now introducing our fresh hand packed pints!! If you see a flavor you like, why not take it home?! Not all of our summer flavors are offered in stores so this is a great way for you to stock up on whatever your heart desires😍😍 Featured here is one of our personal favorites not offered in stores: OATMEAL COOKIE CHIP!!🤤
The Lopez Island Ice Cream is a delicious and local favorite. Lopez Island is a part of the San Juan Islands and is where the ice cream started, however, they have a location on the mainland as well. They have a truck that sells their ice cream normally parked outside of Anthony’s Restaurant in Fidalgo Bay Harbor, just outside downtown Anacortes. Their servings are generous and the prices are reasonable for great homemade ice cream. The creamery is a headquarters and is not a store. You can ask around and find where the ice cream truck is currently parked. Check out their site and flavors here.
Open 9am-4pm daily, closed Saturdays and Sundays
Pelican Bay Books & Coffeehouse
Pelican Bay Books & Coffeehouse is the best coffee shop in downtown Anacortes. There are big windows overlooking downtown with lots of natural light. There are old school honeycomb tiles that say hello and coffee leading into a wooden warm space to read and hang out.
9am-5:30pm daily, closed Sundays
There are a lot of cool antique stores, boutique home decor, clothing shops, and eclectic gift shops. Alleycat vintage decor is fun to look around, and there are also Tides, Watermark Book Co, Boho Chick Vintage, and Red Door Thrift Store to name a few of the best. The mainstreet has plenty of interesting shops to explore.
Eat lunch at Gere-a-Deli, an old school diner
This is an old fashioned sandwich shop on the main street Commercial Ave. This spot is a homey diner which serves breakfast and lunch in an old 20’s bank with old-timey signs. They are known for their salads, sandwiches and soups. This spot is owned by the mayor and run by his son so it is a local family spot in town. This restaurant is also the number one rated restaurant in Anacortes for a quick bite. Another great spot for lunch is Calico Cupboard, and if you are looking for a special treat check out Gelato Coffee.
Open 7am-4pm daily
Whidbey Island Day trip
Whidbey Island is only about a 30-minute drive away with Deception Pass State Park and lots of gorgeous beaches, and charming cities to explore.
Cap Sante Park Overlook
This is a cool overlook rock peak that has a great view of Fidalgo Bay, the harbor, and the rest of the island. The park is a 37-acre wooded parkland that has hiking trails, wildlife, & high vista views of the marina. This is a great spot to go on a short hike up from the bottom, or you drive all the way up to the lookout point. There are huge boulders to sit on and have a picnic or climb on for a better view. You take 4th street downtown and turn right on V ave. to head up to the top of the lookout point.
Sasquatch & downtown murals
All around town there are old school art murals and depictions of the settlers and other old depictions of Anacortes. Among those are the elusive Sasquatch statue painting that you can find in several spots downtown. All the murals are on both sides of Commercial Ave and are fun to find as you shop and explore.
This is one of the classy more upscale downtown bars with modern with Edison bulbs, wood aesthetic, and big windows. This is a sports bar with 18 rotating taps and cocktails as well as delicious pub food. Happy Hour is Monday-Friday 3-6pm with $5 bites to eat and pints for $4.75. They have trivia on Mondays that starts at 6:30 pm. Check out their menu here.
Open 12pm-11pm Mon-Thurs, 12pm-12am Friday, 11am-12am Saturday, and 11am-10pm Sunday