Top 20 Washington State Trips

Chuckanut Drive

Chuckanut Drive

The 21-mile Chuckanut Drive is one of the best scenic drives in Washington State.

Chuckanut Drive is 1.5 hours drive north of Seattle, and runs 21-miles between Burlington and Bellingham, overlooking the Samish Bay in Puget Sound.  

The highlight is the final 10-miles when the road winds around Chuckanut Mountain before ending in Bellingham, where there are a number of pull-outs to enjoy with breathtaking vistas.

There's lots of things to do along this 21-mile drive.  Stop for a delicious meal at the Oyster Bar, watch fresh Oysters being unloaded from Samish Bay at Taylor Shellfish Farms, explore picture-perfect beaches at Larrabee State Park, and pick up a unique gift at Chuckanut Gallery.

5 best things to do along Chuckanut Drive

1. Savor incredible water views at the famous Oyster Bar.

The first stop is the famous Oyster Bar (2578 Chuckanut Drive) perched on a clifftop overlooking Samish Bay.  Enjoy oysters and wine in a romantic, fine-dining setting, or sit outside on the patio for a more casual experience. Check hours.

Oyster Bar Chuckanut DriveOyster Bar Chuckanut Drive

2.  Shop or enjoy a bayside meal of wine and oysters at Taylor Shellfish Farms.

Continue further along Chuckanut Drive to Taylor Shellfish Farms (2182 Chuckanut Drive). Check hours

Pick up a few dozen scrumptious oysters at the Retail Store, or sit outside on the bayside picnic tables, while being served BBQ'd seafood with wine or beer. There's a variety of seafood choices on the menu, like oysters, manila clams, dungeness crab, and local fish.

Where else can you indulge in wine and oysters, while watching the next catch being unloaded from the dock. You might even be lucky enough to witness a shucking demonstration. 

The main product harvested in these waters is the Pacific Oyster, introduced from Japan in 1921. Oyster hatcheries in the local area provide the seeds to breed these succulent oysters.  Unfortunately, the Olympia Oysters native to this area near Chuckanut Drive, died out by 1920 due to overharvesting.

Taylor Shellfish FarmsTaylor Shellfish Farms

Oysters are unloaded from the boat with a hydraulic winch.

Taylor Shellfish Farms lighthouseTaylor Shellfish Farms lighthouse

Check out the quaint little lighthouse constructed from shells, on a tiny island across from Taylor Shellfish Farms at Chuckanut Drive.

3. Stop at the Dogfish Point overlook for gorgeous views of Samish Bay.

The best viewpoint along Chuckanut Drive is at Dogfish Point (nearest cross-street is Pacific Rim Drive), where you can take in sweeping views of Samish Bay.

Chuckanut Drive was thoughtfully designed to capitalize on the stunning views of the Samish Bay and San Juan Islands, and completed in 1896.  

From 1913 to 1931 it was part of the famous Pacific Highway that ran from San Diego to Vancouver B.C. Cars motored along here on their big Pacific adventure, traversing territory that was previously only navigable by boat. 

4. Explore beautiful coastline at Larrabee State Park along Chuckanut Drive.

There are two main entrances to Larrabee State Park along Chuckanut Drive.  The first entrance is Clayton Beach Trailhead, but the directions to the beach from this parking lot are not clear.  

Travel instead to the second entrance with the sign that states "Larrabee State Park - Welcome".  Pass through an entrance booth to a parking lot with a large lawned picnic area and an open-air stage. The walk to the beach only takes 5-minutes from the parking lot.  Turn right at the junction along the short walking trail, and proceed down to a dramatic cove with unusual limestone rock formations. 

The water is way too chilly for swimming, even in summer.

5. Find a unique gift at Chuckanut Bay Gallery and Sculpture Garden.

The final stop along Chuckanut Drive is the Chuckanut Bay Gallery and Sculpture Garden (700 Chuckanut Drive). It features an extensive range of northwest pottery, glassware, jewelry and woodwork. Spend a few minutes enjoying the lovely water features in the small garden.

Stay overnight in Bellingham, at the end of Chuckanut Drive.

Chuckanut Drive ends in Bellingham. Explore the bustling Fairhaven Historic District and a wide selection of museums, galleries and parks.  There's also a good choice of waterfront hotels.  

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