Going Local | Lollygagging in La Conner

A short jaunt from Seattle, the village of La Conner makes an adorable weekend getaway for anyone wanting easy access to one of the region’s best kept secrets.
By Vanessa Bassett

After a romantic drive through the Skagit River Valley, spend an afternoon walking the main street of this historic little port town set on a small inlet off the Puget Sound. At the right time of year, tiptoe through the tulips at the Skagit Valley Tulip Festival, an international destination event. Wrap up a day of exploration at any number of small but well equipped restaurants or breweries before turning in for the evening at a charming local hotel.

From Seattle, head north on Interstate 5 and take exit 221 towards La Conner for a picturesque drive through iconic rural Washington. This scenic route provides lovely views of the Skagit River Valley, and showcases some of the small local farms that this region is known for. Be sure to stop at the Snow Goose Produce farm stand for dazzling local fruits and veggies, and some of the most gigantic ice cream cones you’ve ever seen.

If you are visiting La Conner in April, be sure to check out the Skagit Valley Tulip Festival. Visitors come from around the world to see millions of tulips in bloom during the month of April. While there is always plenty to see in and around La Conner, tulip season is an annual highlight for the region. Be sure to book hotel rooms and dinner reservations well in advance during this period.

La Conner's Wood Merchant
Once you arrive in downtown La Conner, take a stroll along First Street. You’ll be rewarded with many locally owned shops and studios featuring regional merchants and northwest artists, as well as views of the Swinomish Channel. Visit the Wood Merchant and shop for anything from housewares to guitar picks, all made from sustainably sourced wood and handcrafted locally. Stop at Cascade Candy to sample any number of homemade treats in this cheery shop. Get your art fix at the Museum of Northwest Art, and stop for a snack at The Scone Lady Bakery.

Pacific NW Quilt & Fiber Arts Museum
If you wander off of First Street, you are likely to encounter many antique houses which have been placed on the National Historic Register. The building which houses the Pacific Northwest Quilt and Fiber Arts Museum is an excellent example of period architecture, built as a Tudor-style Victorian mansion and finished in 1891. Many other turn of the century homes dot the landscape of the neighborhood, making it fun to wander and explore the area.

As your day of adventure begins to pique your appetite, consider a few of La Conner’s homey restaurants as dinner options. Seeds on Morris Street has a substantial seasonal menu showcasing local crops and harvests. Here you can find yourself in a warm, family friendly atmosphere where there is something for everyone. The Oyster and Thistle Restaurant & Pub is a wonderful seaside-theme option, highlighting northwest seafood and other regional specialties. Quiet and romantic, this is a good option for a sophisticated dinner for two. If you are in the mood for a more casual but highly delicious experience, be sure to head over to the La Conner Brewing Company, where you can enjoy a variety of beer on tap, also on a seasonal rotation. Delicious appetizers (try the baked brie!), entrees, and desserts ensure a good time is had by all, and make this a fun, social option with plenty of energy and cheer.

When you are ready to wrap up your day, La Conner has plenty of cozy accommodations where you can relax. The Wild Iris Inn, centrally located, has warm welcoming rooms with country home style. Spend some time reading or catching up with other travelers in the large, cozy living room, or check out one of the movies from their DVD collection to take back to your room. Not to be missed are the amazing homemade cookies baked daily in house – be sure to save room!

Hotel Planter
Another charismatic accommodation is the Hotel Planter, lovingly cared for as a historic building and faithfully restored to honor its humble beginnings. Several of the rooms have peek-a-boo views of the Channel, while at the same time overlooking First Street. Peruse the history of the building from your room, the details of which lend to its charm and appeal. The small yet welcoming rooms have some of the original building features, and all of its original appeal.

In the morning, whether you have another day of exploration in front of you or you are heading home, breakfast at the Calico Cupboard on First Street is a must. Their menu is not only extensive, covering any and all breakfast items one’s heart could desire, but also features local ingredients and seasonal themes. Above all, the cinnamon rolls are not to be missed!

Bonus find: Two Ravens and antique stores galore!

As you bid farewell to La Conner's peaceful streets, rest assured that you can return at any time to explore the town again. Though small, you can always find new exhibits, crafts and delicacies that come and go through the changing seasons. Whenever you are in need of a quiet weekend away to rest and recharge, come back to La Conner and see what awaits you there.

La Conner waterfront

Going Local showcases the opportunities we all have in exploring and re-connecting with our home towns and local destinations. Someday we will go to Mars but the importance of having a sense of place will always be important, no matter what planet we're on. And hey...even Star Trek's Captain Piccard returned to his family's winery in France on now and then.