Anacortes, the Artsy Focus of Fidalgo Island

Photo by Elizabeth Rose

A day of whale watching, history and art

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Now, I think it’s rushing it to spend just a day in Anacortes but there is much to do and see even if your time is limited. Anacortes is easily reached from the mainland via a short bridge. It is located on Fidalgo Island, measuring over 15 square miles. Half of that is parks, public lands and water.

Many come to Anacortes for a getaway weekend, to stop for moorage on a boat trip or to travel via ferry to the more distant San Juan Islands. But you can catch the island vibe and sense of history in just a day as well.

San Juan Islands Whale Watching (half day)

Anacortes is home port to one of the world’s largest whale watching fleets, with two daily sailings in season. Each sailing typically lasts a half-day, during which riders are introduced to the beauty of the San Juan Islands.

Educators provide a running commentary about geography, island history, and Puget Sound’s rich biology. You’ll see local orca pods, along with dolphins, seals, and other resident wildlife.

Walk the Anacortes Marina (1 hour)

There is a pathway with interpretive signs along the water at Cap Sante Boat Haven. The marina is named for the point you can see across the harbor. Cap Sante is one of our suggested viewpoints. If you feel like a climb, you walk to the top of Cap Sante point, with a view of the city, Fidalgo Bay, and Mount Baker in the distance. Otherwise, it’s a short drive.

Anacortes Museums (1-2 hours)

Anacortes is home to two special museums. The primary museum building was originally designed as a Carnegie Library. It is now home to the Anacortes History Museum.  Anacortes’ second museum is the Maritime Heritage Center and W. T. Preston, the last stern-wheeler to work in Puget Sound and one of only two snag boats remaining in the contiguous United States. Built in 1882, the Preston removed navigational hazards from the bays and harbors of the Sound from 1885-1914.


Mural Project and Shopping (1-2 hours)

As you walk around town, and especially along the main street, Commercial, you’ll see painted figures and scenes. The people are part of the Anacortes Mural Project founded by artist Bill Mitchell. He has painted more than 150 murals, most featuring Anacortes residents such as past mayors, fishermen, pets and children. You can pick up a mural map at the Visitors Center.

Anacortes is full of interesting shops and galleries. Most are found along Commercial. Get lost in an antique shop, try on hand-knitted scarves and enjoy the art galleries.

Places to Eat in Anacortes

Dining spots range from deli fare to a number of award-winning farm to table restaurants. The Skagit Valley, which adjoins the city, is a major source of fresh fruits and vegetables. The waters around Fidalgo Island are a significant fishery. We recommend Gere-a-Deli for lunch, happy hour at The Majestic Inn and dinner at Adrift (make reservations.)

At A Glance

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