Washington’s Cascade Mountains

The North Cascades region reaches from the northern Washington coast at the Canadian border down to Everett, home of Boeing and Naval Station Everett. The beauty of this region that homes the Cascade Mountains lies in the surrounding farmland and the beloved evergreen trees that tower over I-5. You can explore cities such as Arlington, Bellingham, Everett and La Conner, all of which offer their own distinctive sample of northwest Washington, rich with enchanting farmland, vibrant stretches of tulip fields and gorgeous coastal towns that offer sensational farm-to-table dining, numerous craft breweries and irresistible bay views.

La Conner

La Conner, Washington is a historic town located in Skagit County. The area is known for its fertile farmland, fine art, historic architecture and a rich Native American heritage.


La Conner is a small historic town, but with eight restaurants, three breakfast shops, four coffee shops, three museums and numerous well-curated retail shops, it packs a big punch year-round. Each month and season brings a bevy of activities and festivals. Winter brings the migrating snow geese, trumpeter swans and bald eagles. Spring brings the annual Skagit Valley Daffodil and Tulip Festivals. May brings the annual International Guitar Festival. In the summer, visitors can stroll the waterfront and take in the live music and outdoor dancing on Sunday afternoons. In the fall, there is an annual Boat Parade on the channel and guests can celebrate the family farms and cozy up at one of the several museums and fine art


Weather in La Conner is mild. Average summer high temps are in the low 80s with little rain, making it the perfect destination for a summer vacation. So much so that our INNSiders featured it in an article as one of 10 Washington Small Towns That You Should Visit In The Summer. Winter highs are mid to high 40s with more chances of rain.

La Conner is a short 1.5 hour drive from Seattle. From Seattle, drive north on I-5 and take exit #221, Conway, La Conner. Turn left and follow signs to the town.

Things to Do

Set in the fertile Skagit Valley, this area boasts a number of family farms. From tulips to dahlias, blueberries to pumpkins…this valley has it all. Local restaurants benefit from the fresh local produce found all throughout the valley. Each October, visit La Conner and celebrate the family farm. The Celebration of Family Farms includes a wide variety of farms, most notably, Cascadian Farm located in Rockport.

The laid back lifestyle, beautiful light and stunning scenery brought a number of artists to the area. In 1981,the Museum of Northwest Art (MoNA) was established. This museum features art by notable northwest artists Morris Graves, Guy Anderson, Clayton James and Barbara Straker. Each November the town celebrates artists in the area through Arts Alive! This festival includes visual, musical, culinary and literary arts. Visit the first weekend of November and take the opportunity to meet the artists, sip fine wine and rub elbows with the locals.

Don’t miss the La Conner Textile and Quilt Museum. Located in the historic Gaches Mansion, this museum presents exhibitions and programs to inspire and educate visitors in all types of fiber art.

Each April thousands of visitors head to La Conner for the Skagit Valley Tulip Festival. For 34 years, the Skagit Valley has celebrated millions of tulips in full bloom. Follow the driving tour that winds through acres of colorful tulips. Two tulip growers, Tulip Town and Roozengaarde/Washington Bulb Co. offer display gardens and gift shops. Stroll the gardens and choose your favorite flowers. Then order your favorite bulbs for convenient delivery.

Every winter the valley hosts migrating Snow Geese and Trumpeter Swans. Join birders as well as wild life photographers from around the world. See thousands of geese and swans gleaning the local farm fields. Although you can see geese and swans from October through April, December through February are the best viewing times.

Strolling the Town of La Conner

Much of La Conner is on the National Register of Historic Places. First Street includes a number of restored historic buildings that now hold locally owned shops and restaurants. From here you can stroll along the Swinomish Channel and snap a picture of the Rainbow Bridge that spans the channel.

La Conner offers unique boutique shopping opportunities. Fine woodworking, antiques, lavender, home decor, fine art….La Conner has it all. Hungry? Visit one of La Conner’s fine dining restaurants or stop by the local La Conner brewery for a hand crafted pizza and a cold brew.

Day Trips

Start a great day trip here. Follow the food trail through Bow Edison and check out abundant wild life along the way. Anacortes and the San Juan Island Ferry is only a 30 minute drive. Deception Pass State Park, a short 30 minute drive from La Conner is the gateway to Whidbey Island. This state park offers great hiking along the water as well as beautiful views.

Hiking, Biking, and Kayaking

Hike and bike the Skagit Valley. Local Pioneer Park offers easy hikes and great picnic spots. Padilla Bay, an estuary where the Salish Sea meets the Skagit River is a short 15 minute drive from town. Padilla has a beautiful flat 4.4 mile trail that is perfect for birders.

Bring your bike and pedal to Bow Edison. Here you can create a picnic or stop at one of their quaint eateries.

La Conner is part of the Cascadian Marine Trail. Kayak south to reach Goat Island and Hole in The Wall. Travel North to Padilla Bay and the Twin Bridges.

Start a great day trip here. Follow the food trail through Bow Edison and check out abundant wild life along the way. Anacortes and the San Juan Island Ferry is only a 30 minute drive. Deception Pass State Park, a short 30 minute drive from La Conner is the gateway to Whidbey Island. This state park offers great hiking along the water as well as beautiful views.

Featured Places to Stay in La Conner


Bellingham WA is a charming college town located equidistant between Seattle and Vancouver BC. With Bellingham Bay to the west and Mt. Baker to the east, Bellingham offers beautiful scenery and a wide variety of outdoor activitie


Bellingham is the last stop in Washington before reaching the Canadian border. Situated on Bellingham Bay and in the shadow of Mount Baker, Bellingham offers a variety of outdoor activities. 

Bellingham weather is mild with wintertime daytime highs around 50 degrees. Wintertime lows are in the mid-30s. Summertime high temps hover in the mid-70s. Nighttime lows are in the mid-50s.  Bellingham experiences about 36 inches of rainfall a year. October through March have the highest average rainfalls.Summer has less precipitation and plenty of sunshine.

Bellingham is located about 90 miles north of Seattle on I-5. Vancouver BC is 50 miles north of Bellingham traveling up I-5 and BC-99. Those traveling to Canada need a valid passport to cross the border.

Things to Do

The Cultural Arts District downtown includes a variety of art galleries, the Bellingham Railway Museum, the Spark Museum of Electrical Invention and the Mindport Exhibit. Theater buffs will enjoy the Pickford Film Center, which is dedicated to independent films. The historic Mount Baker Theater showcases live performances.

Western Washington University gives Bellingham a college town feel. The campus includes the Sehome Hill Arboretum, one of the top 10 outdoor sculpture collections in the US. There are 29 unique pieces placed throughout the beautiful campus.

With easy access to Bellingham Bay, the city offers a variety of water activities like canoeing and kayaking. From the Bellingham Marina catch whale-watching tours of the San Juan Islands or try crabbing and fishing.

The Bellingham area includes three lakes, Lake Whatcom, Lake Padden and Lake Sammish, All are great for swimming and watersports activities.

More things Around Bellingham

Fairhaven, a National Historic District, is a small community on the south side of Bellingham. This walkable area is well known for it’s great restaurants and shops. Fairhaven is also a transportation hub for exploring points north. The Bellingham Cruise Terminal, located in Fairhaven, is the southern most point of the Alaska Marine Highway System. From here you can access the ferry to Alaska.

The Amtrak Cascades train stops at the Bellingham-Fairhaven Station and makes daily trips to Vancouver BC and Seattle WA.

Mount Baker is just a short scenic 1 ½ hour drive from Bellingham. Experience downhill skiing, cross country skiing, snowmobiling, snowshoeing or sledding.

Take a scenic drive from historic Fairhaven south down Chuckanut Drive, state highway 11. The road hugs the shoreline with views of the bay and islands beyond. Larrabee State Park, located just 6 miles south of Bellingham on Chuckanut Drive, offers access to hiking trails, tide pools and the beach.


Everett is situated on the Puget Sound and is home to the largest public marina on the west coast.


In Everett, you will find the US Naval Home Port, home to the USS Nimitz. Everett is also home to The Future of Flight and the Boeing Assembly plant. Here they assemble the 767, 777 and the 787 Dreamliner. The Future of Flight tour is a favorite of tourists and locals alike.

Everett is a 30-minute drive from Seattle traveling on I-5 north.

From Everett you can catch the Mukilteo-Clinton ferry to Whidbey Island. Find the Mukilteo Ferry Schedule here.

The weather in Everett is mild. The average summer highs are in the mid-70s. In the winter the temperatures range from the mid-50s during the day to nighttime lows in the mid-30s.

Everett,WA is a thriving port town north of Seattle. It is located on Port Gardiner Sound, Possession Sound and the Snohomish River and has over 50 miles of fresh water shoreline. Because of this unique location, Everett has the largest public marina on the west coast. It also includes the Everett Washington naval base, Naval Station Everett.The port has been designated a US Naval Homeport and houses the USS Nimitz.

Downtown Everett has a number of dining and shopping options along Colby Ave. between Hewitt and Everett Ave. This area is walkable and has convenient street parking.

Head to Gardiner Bay to dine on the water. Enjoy fresh seafood at the popular Anthony’s Homeport or Italian cuisine at Lombardi’s.

Before dinner stop by Scuttlebutt Brewing Company for a local brew or distilled spirits at Bluewater Distillery, both located on the aptly named Craftsman Way.

Historic Planes and The Future of Flight

Everett is a great spot for anyone interested in flight, whether past or future. The Flying Heritage Collection, housed at Paine Field is a rare collection of combat aircraft from World War II (1930-1940s). See military aircraft from Britian, Japan, Germany, Russia and the United States. Many of the aircraft have been carefully rebuilt and restored after being recovered from WWII battlefields.

One of the most popular spots in the area is The Future of Flight Aviation Center and Boeing Tour. The Boeing Tour is a must see. Here you can learn how they construct the Boeing 747, 777 and 787 Dreamliners, all in the largest building in the world (by volume). The Future of Flight includes a number of exhibits. Celebrate the Boeing Centennial and view 100 years of innovation. Check out the Materials Exhibit and compare designs of the new, state of the art Boeing 787 Dreamliner to the early Boeing 707. Digitally design your own airplane and email your design to yourself and others. Check out the Family Zone:How Planes are made. Purchase tickets for the tour online and be advised that The Future of Flight is busy during peak season.

Enjoying the Outdoors in Everett

Head to one of the local parks to enjoy the natural beauty of Washington State. Forest Park, the oldest park in Everett is densely wooded with lots of great walking trails.The park is open year around and is a great family spot. It includes a water playground, tennis courts and great spots for a picnic.

In the summer, take the ferry to Jetty Island, a manmade island just off shore. This spot is home to over 45 species of birds including ospreys, hawks, cormorants and a variety of ducks. Watch for seals or even the occasional gray whale.

Howarth Park, located on Olympic Blvd. includes 28 acres and sits on the water. It affords beautiful views, especially at sunset.


Arlington offers a snapshot of small town life in Washington, but is only 10 miles north of Seattle. Tucked between the Cascade Mountains and the Puget Sound, Arlington has a vibrant main street with shops and dining.


Downtown Arlington has a charming main street dotted with shops and restaurants. If you like walking, hiking or biking, hop on the Centennial Trail. This 23 mile paved trail connects Snohomish, Lake Stevens and the city of Arlington. This trail not only takes you through the area’s natural beauty, but it is dotted with local artwork too.

You can reach Arlington by car from Seattle in less than 1 hour traveling north on I-5.

The weather in Arlington Washington is mild. Highs in summer can reach the mid to upper 70’s. Winter the average low temps are in the mid 30’s. Set in the foothills of the Cascade Mountains, Arlington can get a few dustings of snow each year.

Things to Do

The city council of Arlington has an ordinance to set aside moneys from building projects to purchase public art. Consequently,Arlington now features over 30 pieces of public art. These include murals, sculptures, art banners, benches and an interactive musical instrument exhibit.

Arlington is a great jumping off point for the Mountain Loop Scenic Byway. This highway is part pavement and part gravel and is only open late spring through early fall. A favorite of the locals, this little known byway is more of a curve than a loop. It starts in Darrington, travels east and then loops back westward, ending in Granite Falls. Along the 55 miles route are a number of hiking trails, picnic areas and camping opportunities with stunning mountain and river views. You can hike and visit the only honest ghost town on the western slope of the Cascades, Monte Cristo an old gold mining town. There are a number of forest service trails that offer easy – difficult hiking. The Old Sauk trail is great for families and is also wheelchair accessible.

Every July Arlington features the Arlington Fly In, one of the friendliest fly in events in the US. With over 1000 aircraft, this event draws over 55,000 people each year.

Just south of Arlington on I-5 are the Seattle Premium Outlets. This up scale outlet mall includes over 130 designer names and has something for everyone. It is a destination for those traveling from Seattle to Canada to the north.


Index is a rustic small town located in the Skykomish Valley, about an hour from Seattle. Visitors enjoy its proximity to hiking and rock climbing in the foothills of the majestic Cascade Mountains.


Things to Do

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