North of Seattle


Conway boasts just one main street and a great local spot for fried oysters and burgers.  The Conway Pub and Eatery is really a local type place, accurately described by one “Yelper” as a “dive”.  You do not go here for the atmosphere…you go for the pub fare and the local feel.  On a sunny Sunday afternoon you will be surrounded by locals, tourists and bikers, all stopping to enjoy a quick bite on the patio. 

If you aren’t hungry or pub grub amid Harleys is just not your thing, then continue driving toward LaConner.  Crossing over the bridge, you drop onto Fir Island.  Bounded by the North and South Forks of the Skagit River, this is some of the most protected and beautiful farmland in the Pacific Northwest.   If you are traveling in January and February, you will no doubt see the huge flocks of Snow Geese and Trumpeter Swans that glean the fields here each winter.  Birders and photographers travel to this area every year to view thousands of birds gathering across the area.   Soon you will pass Snow Goose Produce on your left.  Open seasonally, they are worth a stop.  Although they feature local organic produce, smoked salmon, artisan breads and baked items, they are most well know for their “immodest ice cream cones.”  Really, they are immodest….which means ample!  Featuring specialty ice cream from Lopez Island Creamery, made with all-whole, all-real ingredients, most of their 48 flavors come from Cascade Glacier in Oregon.  This was a family favorite when we lived in the area.  

Further down the road is the Rexville Grocery which features gourmet foods, wine tastings and community events.  This is a great spot to stop and create a picnic to enjoy as you travel.

After enjoying a drive through the local farmland, head to LaConner, a historic town located on the Swinomish Channel.  Most of main street is listed on the National Register of Historic places.   A stroll through town includes great shopping. Many local artists and craftsmen are featured in the quaint shops lining the street.  Several great restaurants are located in town, so if you are hungry…now is the time to stop. 

LaConner also boasts the Laconner Quilt and Textile Museum that features quilts as art and the Northwest Museum of Art (MoNA)  Both display artists and a variety of art forms from the Pacific Northwest.

Best photo ops are down Main Street and a shot from the south end looking toward the Rainbow Bridge.  This bridge connects Fidalgo Island and LaConner. 

Two of my favorite shops….Pelindaba Lavender (also located in Friday Harbor) and The Wood Merchant.  Pelindaba is a family owned business located on the San Juan Islands that offers a large variety of lavender products.  Just  walk through the shop…the scents and colors are amazing.    The Wood Merchant has a wide variety of hand made wood furniture as well as smaller items.  For the past 30 years they have featured local craftsmen as well as American wood designs from across the country. 

There are several great spots for dining in LaConner.  Nell Thorn, located on the channel is an upscale eatery serving creative dishes with all the ingredients sourced locally.   If you are hungry for breakfast, lunch or maybe just a really big, delicious cinnamon roll, head to The Calico Cupboard at the south end of town on Main Street.  This spot is a favorite of visitors and locals alike and they have another restaurant located in Mt. Vernon….just a short drive away.

March and April usher in flowers....lots and lots of flowers.  In 1985, the Roozen family established Roozengaarde and The Washington Bulb Company.  Today they are the official sponsor of the Skagit Valley Tulip Festival.  Roozengaarde encompasses over 1000 acres and is the largest family owned bulb producer in the US.  Daffodils, tulips and iris bloom each spring starting in March.  Every fall they plant over 300,000 spring flowering bulbs in their 3 acres of display gardens.  Each year their website includes a bloom map and bloom times.  Visit to learn more about this yearly event.  

From LaConner it is a short 20 minute drive to Anacortes, where the Washington State Ferry departs for the San Juan Islands.  Check out our next blog for island info.  For now, we will  head north toward the border.

Next we will visit Bow Edison.  This is a great day trip by bike from LaConner or a great day trip by car when combined with Chuckanut Drive and Fairhaven to the north. (see info below)


Bow Edison

From LaConner take Bayview-Edison Road and take a scenic drive along Padilla Bay to Bow Edison.  Padilla bay is part of the Salish Sea, which includes the Straits of Juan de Fuca, Puget Sound, Hood Canal, Georgia Straits, and the waters around the Gulf and San Juan Islands.

First stop, Bayview State Park.  Take a quick turn and park by the water and enjoy views across the bay.  Further down the road, The Padilla Bay Reserve is a scenic research and educational center for the area.  Stop by and walk along paths that offer beautiful views of the area.

Continue into Bow Edison, a tiny spot along the road that packs a big culinary punch.  Here the local, organic products meet talented chefs and artisans and the result…..The Bow Edison Food Trail!  Here you can pack your picnic basket with gourmet delights and meet interesting, talented people along the way.  First stop at Slough Foods for some great local cheeses, world class wines and artisan cured meats.  Next door is the Bread Farm.  This is the spot to choose not only a hand crafted  naturally leavened loaf of bread, but to also choose from a wide variety of baked items….scones, cookies, shortbread.  Everything is made on site from natural ingredients.  Continue on and enjoy locally sources oysters, a local distillery, a taqueria, the  Edison Inn (bar and restaurant) and one of my favorite spots, Samish Bay Cheese.   They carry fresh and aged cheeses as well as fresh yogurt.  Over the years they have perfected the texture and taste of their cheese and have expanded their offerings.  A stop here is truly a look into a local, organic family business. 

You could spend a day stopping along the Bow Edison Food Trail, but if you have packed a picnic head up scenic Chuckanut Drive.  This 21 mile strip of road winds along the bay from Burlington to Fairhaven along WA Route 11.  This dramatic cliff side route hugs Chuckanut Mountain and offers sweeping views of the bay.   A good stop for hiking and a picnic is Larabee State Park  Here you can explore tide pools along Chuckanut or Samish Bay or hike along one of their well maintained trails.   There are two freshwater lakes amid this forested terrain.  This is an easy stop and great for families and outdoor enthusiasts. 

Fairhaven and Bellingham

After a day of exploring, you end in Fairhaven, a quaint historic area south of Bellingham.  Fairhaven is a small local community packed with great specialty shops and restaurants.  Stroll along the 6 square blocks all designated as a National Historic District and take in the Victorian charm.  My favorite, Colophon Cafe.  Founded in 1985, Colophon started as a small ice cream and espresso parlor, but has grown to include soups, sandwiches, salads and quiches.  Colophon is locally owned and works to be a good steward  in this small, vibrant community.  They offer vegetarian, gluten-free options and pride themselves on catering to the individual guest. 

If you are interested in all things outdoors, then head to Bellingham and make it your base camp for discovering all this area has to offer  Whether you want to visit the glaciers of Mt. Baker, paddle the Salish Sea or explore local parks and recreation areas, Bellingham is a great starting point.  For info on events….Running, Paddling and more check out for more info.

Bellingham is more then just outdoor activities.  Visit the downtown Cultural District which includes art galleries as well as the historic Mount Baker Theater.  Visit Western Washington University and view one of the top 10 outdoor sculpture gardens in the US that includes 29 works of art created by a variety of renowned artists.  Bellingham's Big Rock Sculpture Garden is a 2.5 acre city park featuring 35 permanent art pieces.

If you are interested in craft beer, check out the Bellingham Tap Trail.  Grab a map at one of the local breweries or tap houses. This is a fun pub crawl and a great way to enjoy craft beer with the locals. 

From Bellingham it is a short drive to Blaine WA and the Canadian Border.  If you have your passport, continue up I-5, stop by the Peace Arch Park and then cross the border to Vancouver and beyond.

will start from Anacortes and take the Washington State Ferry to Friday Harbor, the gateway to the San Juan Islands.

Tag us at @wainnsiders on Instagram! Let Washington INNSiders guide you to the perfect retreat. While we have highlighted a few great inns close to beautiful destinations, the Washington INNSiders boasts an exhaustive list of independent inns all over the state. Filter by desired characteristics to select the ideal B&B, inn, or hotel for your dream outdoor getaway. The experts behind Washington INNSiders inspect and approve all member properties, so you can confidently plan the perfect escape today.

See Places to Stay


Sign up for Washington travel tips, recommendations and updates delivered to your inbox monthly