Visit three exceptional parks at Anacortes, or take a ferry to the San Juan Islands.
Anacortes is 1.5 hours north of Seattle on Fidalgo Island, directly east of the San Juan Islands, and is the main ferry port to the San Juan Islands in Washington State. It's connected to the mainland by a bridge across the Swinomish Channel.
Anacortes has stunning natural surroundings with large tracts of forest, eight lakes, and incredible views of the San Juan Islands from Mt Erie. Three of the best parks include Washington Park, Mt Erie and Cap Santa Park. Deception Pass State Park is also only a short distance away.
10 best things to do in Anacortes
1. Take the stunning loop drive around Washington Park.
Drive directly west of Anacortes to Washington Park, with a 2.2 mile one-way loop road around a coastal headland. The drive has numerous pull-outs, with spectacular vistas of the San Juan Islands. The paved road is popular with cyclists and pedestrians alike, and there's also a 1.5 mile "Fidalgo Head Loop Trail" for hikers. Year round camping is available, in addition to picnic shelters and a boat launch.
2. See incredible views from Mt Erie, just south of Anacortes.
Mt Erie is 4-miles south of Anacortes, and at 1,273 feet is the highest point on the island. Visitors can drive to the top of this mountain, and walk to different viewpoints from the parking lot. The best viewpoint is tucked away adjacent to the Radio Tower, with sweeping vistas of Whidbey Island and Deception Pass.
3. Drive up to Cap Santa Park for Mt Baker views.
Cap Santa Park is a 37-acre park located near the Cap Santa Boat Haven (marina) at Anacortes. This viewpoint faces east across Puget Sound to snow-capped Mt Baker and the Cascades, and has a bird's eye view of the marina.
4. Explore Washington State's favorite park, Deception Pass.
Deception Pass is 20-minutes south of Anacortes, and is a spectacular strait between Fidalgo Island and Whidbey Island. Cross the Deception Pass Bridge to explore Whidbey Island, including the townships of Coupeville and Langley.
5. See beautiful Heart Lake & Whistle Lake.
There are also some beautiful lakes just outside Anacortes, including Heart Lake and Whistle Lake. Whistle Lake requires a 1-mile hike from a parking lot, and is popular for swimming. Heart Lake is visible along Heart Lake Road just before the turn-off to Erie Mountain.
6. Visit the Historic Anacortes Downtown
Anacortes has an attractive Historic Downtown area along Commercial Street, with art galleries, a bookshop, and the historic Majestic Inn. Browse a great selection of books at the Watermark Books Company.
7. Stop by the Anacortes History Museum
The Anacortes History Museum is only a few blocks away from downtown, housed in the elegant Carnegie Library Building [1305 8th Street Anacortes].
8. Tour the W.T Preston Snagboat Heritage Center
Visitors can tour an authentic steam powered sternwheeler, originally operated by the US Army Corp of Engineers. To avoid disappointment, always call ahead to check hours (713 R Avenue, seasonal closures). The Depot Arts Center is adjacent to the the sternwheeler, housed in the historic Great Northern Depot, built 1911.
9. Book a Whale Watching, Boat Charter or Kayaking Tour.
If you'd like to get out on the water, book a kayaking tour or private boat charter to the San Juan Islands from Anacortes.
10. Choose from excellent restaurants
For the ultimate dining experience, try Anthonys at Cap Sante Boat Haven on the waterfront, with a lovely ambience and patio dining in summer. The Adrift Restaurant and the 5th Street Bistro are some other great options, located in historic downtown.
TIP: If interested in hiking or mountain biking this area, please contact the "Anacortes Visitor center" at 819 Commercial Ave A for maps. The trails are difficult to navigate without a map.
Best lodging at Anacortes.
Where do Anacortes ferries go?
Anacortes Ferries travel to a range of destinations. These include Friday Harbor, Orcas Island and Sydney BC. Check the Anacortes Ferry Schedule.