If you are traveling from Seattle to the Anacortes Ferry Terminal, consider lengthening your drive to the dock and making a few stops in the Skagit Valley.
Traveling I-5 from Seattle to Anacortes takes about an hour and a half, depending on traffic conditions. Along the way, you’ll pass Bow and Mt. Vernon, two towns we recommend visiting if time allows. During the winter, both the Skagit Valley and the San Juan Islands slow down. You’ll be able to experience the quaintness of these rural communities without the hustle and bustle of the summer season.
Mt. Vernon, Washington (a.k.a. Tulip Town)
In the spring, Mt. Vernon turns into a Tulip Town USA, with rows upon rows of tulips of every color. In the summer months, the town is known for its busy farmers markets and live music. In the winter, however, the town slows but the shops are still open. Our favorite part of Mt. Vernon in the off season is being able to walk through all the shops that line First Street.
Start your trip with a window-shopping stroll, then grab some lunch. The town has a great selection of food from a wide variety of cuisines, so there’s plenty to choose from. If you prefer some lighter fare, head to the local co-op. Grab some snacks, lunch, or baked goods from the prepared food deli. Then head over to the river walk. Enjoy some sunshine and get ready to have the perfect vacation in the San Juan Islands.
Bow is a tiny town in the Skagit Valley that is home to Bow Hill Blueberries, Breadfarm, and Samish Bay Cheese – truly a town for your inner foodie!
Bow Hill Blueberries – You won’t be able to get fresh blueberries in the winter, but you can grab some blueberry ice cream, juices, and walk around the farm.
Samish Bay Cheese – Get out of your car and explore some of the farm, taking a moment to appreciate the pigs and sheep that are roaming around a small parcel of land in front of the store.
Afterward, head inside to shop. Samish Bay Cheese offers a variety of cheeses, yogurts, meats, ice creams, and local wines from the Skagit area. The display case at Samish Bay Cheese is impressive. Another bonus is that you can sample as many cheeses as you’d like. Then purchase your favorites and bring them along to enjoy on one of your picnics or hikes on San Juan Island.
Breadfarm – This bakery is known for their bread, so make sure to grab a loaf or two. They also offer cookies and other pastries in their display case. Don’t worry about making the wrong choice! There are no wrong choices at this bakery.
Taylor Shellfish Farms – A Samish oyster bar and shellfish market, this farm grows remarkable shellfish. If you are hungry and looking for some lunch, take a drive down the road to Taylor Shellfish Farms. They offer oysters on the half shell, grilled shellfish, and market-fresh fish cooked to perfection.
If you aren’t that hungry but want some oysters later in the evening, pick up a half dozen and ask them to put them on ice for you so that they travel well. Though the winters can be cold, they offer outside seating around fireplaces and are eager for you to go and visit them.
Alright, your little road trip through the Skagit Valley is over and you are headed to the ferry for your vacation in Friday Harbor. When you arrive at the terminal (45-60 in advance of your departure time!), you’ll see a sign on your right-hand side leading down to a small and peaceful sandy beach where you can relax and get on island time.
The team at the Tucker House Inn & Harrison House Suites is so excited to have you staying with us. If you have any questions or need suggestions for more stops along the way, make sure to give us a call. We are here to help you plan. See you soon!