Written by Courtney Oldwyn-Steed Published on March 10, 2018.
You Made it to Seattle. Now What?
What better way to start your island vacation than a short road trip, capped off with a scenic ferry ride on your way to the Tucker House Inn? One of the great things about the San Juan Islands is their proximity to Seattle, Washington and Vancouver, B.C. You’ll be relaxing on an island beach after just a couple of hours drive and a short ferry ride from one of these big cities.
The small, seaside town of Anacortes, Washington is about an hour and half drive North of Seattle and home to the Washington State Ferry Terminal that provides vehicle and passenger service to the San Juan Islands. For summer months a ferry reservation for vehicles is recommended. So check out Washington State Ferry for more information and plan your island getaway. However, ferry reservations for your vehicle are encouraged year-round to make your travel worry-free!
Now hop in your car, head north and check out these few fun stops on the road between Seattle and the San Juans.
Must-sees on your Road Trip
First things first: get out of the city! Whether you flew into SeaTac airport or live nearby traffic around downtown Seattle traffic can be rough. Do yourself a favor and head north on I-5 until you’re just past the city of Everett.
As you come to the North end of Everett, take the Third Street exit and follow the signs to Mukilteo Blvd and Forest Park for your first pit stop on this little road trip.
Stretch your Legs
With loads of walking trails winding through the forest (hence the name) Forest Park is the perfect spot to stretch your legs. If you’re traveling with children, or just a child at heart this huge park also boasts a picnic area, horseshoe pit, huge playground for kids (including a water park in the summer months!) and even an animal farm.
Once you’re back on the road heading North plan to make a detour toward the darling little town of LaConner, Washington. From I-5 North take Exit 221 at Conway and follow the signs toward LaConner.
Stop and Smell the… Daffodils
If you happen to be in the area in March or April you’re in for a special treat – the LaConner Daffodil Festival in March and the world-famous Skagit Valley Tulip Festival in April. Driving maps are available as well as the “Bloom Map” at www.lovelaconner.com which lets you know what fields are currently in bloom.
Even if you’re not traveling thru in spring, LaConner still won’t disappoint. Full of cute little shops, antiques and yummy restaurants it’s easy to kill an afternoon walking the streets and waterfront of this little ocean side town. For more info visit www.lovelaconner.com.
Lady Luck and Fill ‘er up!
After strolling around in scenic LaConner it’s time to check in with Lady Luck! For those 21 years and older, the Swinomish Casino is about twenty minutes from LaConner and just outside of Anacortes.
Just off HWY 20 (which leads you right into Anacortes and then on to the ferry terminal), the Swinomish Casino started as a small bingo operation in 1985 and expanded into the full casino and lodge in 1994. With over 800 slot machines and all the classic tablegames like Blackjack, Craps and Roulette. You may just win enough to pay for your vacation!
This is also the best place to fill up your gas tank before arriving on San Juan Island where gas prices may be higher.
After all that hiking, flower gazing, window shopping and gambling it’s time for a beer and a snack! Make sure you save time for a quick stop at Bastion Brewery off Christianson road in Anacortes. This little local brewery has fourteen in-house beers on draft including three seasonal rotating taps. Bastion Brewery is also a family friendly place to grab a quick bite to eat before boarding the ferry.
Don’t Miss your Boat
Since ferry reservation holders must arrive at the terminal at least 30 minutes before departure, make sure you give yourself plenty of time to get there. Bastion Brewery is about 15 minutes (not including possible traffic or road work) from the Anacortes/San Juan Washington State Ferry Terminal.
Enjoy that last sip of craft brew and then it’s on toward San Juan Island where the last part of your “road” trip becomes an “island adventure”!
Imagine, it’ll just be a matter of time before you’re relaxing in your private hottub overlooking the scenic harbor. Trust us, this slice of heaven is worth the commute.