This friendly, Island City is a center for tourist facilities, restaurants, retail stores, and anything boating. Thousands of boats are moored on a permanent basis and hundreds more visit this “boater’s paradise.“ Four full-service marinas, three public boat launches, boat storage, boat building and repair, diving and salvage, marine lumber, marine surveyors, and the list goes on. The weather here is also a plus for visiting boaters. Anacortes averages 26” of rain per year, roughly a foot less than the closest major city. July and August average less than an inch of rain per month, and from April to September, the island gets an average 20+ days of sun per month.
Because of its strategic location on the northern and western shores of Fidalgo Island, Anacortes is often frequented by larger vessels and is the terminus for State Ferries to the San Juan Islands and Sidney, British Columbia.
Image credit https://www.theknot.com
In 1876, when Amos Bowman platted the townsite, he envisioned Anacortes as a different sort of terminus - one for the transcontinental railroad. Bowman established a wharf, a store at what is now the Guemes Island Ferry landing, and a post office that he dedicated as the “Anna Curtis Post Office.” The name was later modified and contracted into “Anacortes.” By 1890 Anacortes was a bustling community. Fortunes changed with an unsuccessful attempt to move the county seat to Anacortes, and the announcement that Anacortes was not to be the Trans-Pacific port for the northwest. The economy deflated, many people left, and the city was a near ghost town. True to its pioneering spirit residents turned to fishing, fish processing, lumbering, millworking, and eventually, to ship building. By 1912, the prosperous community had water and electric plants, and paved streets. During World War I ships were built in Anacortes shipyards and on Guemes Island. The next boom came during the 1950’s when Texaco and Shell established refineries on nearby March’s Point. Today, the refineries and related businesses are still prominent in the economy, as is tourism, fishing, ship building, repair, and other marine services.
Image credit http://anacortesrealestateblog.com
Transient moorage is found at the Port of Anacortes Cap Sante Marina, a sparkling public, park-like facility that boasts a boat launch, fuel dock, large boat slips and pedestrian friendly amenities such as restrooms, benches and tables. Anthony’s Restaurant is located next to the marina. Adjacent to downtown Anacortes, this moorage is within easy walking distance of grocery stores, barber and beauty shops, a library with wi access, hardware stores, marine chandleries, restaurants, pharmacies, post office, liquor store, banks, furniture and antique dealers, real estate of offices, and specialty shops. Many are located on Commercial Avenue, the 40-block-long street which begins at Guemes Channel on the north and stretches southward to the residential hillside.
Nearby, at 7th and R Ave., take a self-guided tour of the W.T. Preston, a historic steam paddlewheeler that plied the waters of the Skagit River and area bays for many years, serving to clear debris that threatened safe navigation. The Anacortes Maritime Heritage Center features artifacts and displays illustrating the historical significance of the snagboat and other nautical notables. The nearby Depot Arts & Community Center is housed in a restored Railway Depot and features an art gallery. During the summer, the Anacortes Farmer’s Market is held in front of the Depot on Saturdays from 9am-2pm, with community workshops and live music. The Jim Rice Park provides benches and view sites. The Anacortes Museum, located in a landmark Carnegie Library, is across the street from Causland Park. Nearby, Anacortes Community Theatre presents spring and fall musicals, as well as comedies and dramas the rest of the year.
From performance arts to visual arts, Anacortes takes pride in its reputation as a haven for artists. Many display their works at local shops and at the popular Anacortes Arts Festival, held on the first full weekend in August. Weekend art walks are held year-round. Artists have painted more than 100 murals on downtown buildings portraying Anacortes pioneers and historical scenes reproduced from historic photographs.
Seafarers Memorial, Seafarers Memorial Park, Anacortes.
Image credit http://www.everyonestravelclub.com
Anacortes is sometimes known as “Park Place,” because 3,091 acres (almost half of the city’s total acreage) are dedicated to community forest lands and parks. Lakes, saltwater shore, forest and parklands are teeming with recreational opportunities including boating, kayaking, fishing, scuba diving, whale and wildlife watching, camping, hiking, and biking. Seafarer’s Memorial Park, on the waterfront south of Cap Sante Marina, has showers, restrooms, picnic tables and meeting rooms, as well as a pier and dock to accommodate rowing and sailing dinghies, canoes, and kayaks. In July and August, the Port of Anacortes hosts a Summer Concert Series here. Park landmarks include The Lady of the Sea sculpture, dedicated to those waiting for the return of commercial fishermen, and the Seafarer’s Memorial, dedicated to those who have lost their lives while engaged in marine oriented occupations. Other parks include Lower Cap Sante Bluff (Rotary) Park, and Causland Park on 8th Street. Historic Causland Park, designed by a French architect who used native stone mosaics to depict the walls of a park in an old Austrian city, has long been a popular attraction.
For more information visit the Anacortes Chamber of Commerce Harbor Guide Program and website.