Over the years, La Conner Washington has become one of our favorite Washington towns. Located in the 'Up & Over' and in the Skagit Valley, it's just over an hour northwest of Seattle. It's got good beer, cute shops, comfy B&Bs, galleries and museums, great restaurants, and you can even park a sailboat here - the town sits along the salty Swinomish Channel.
We're gonna point out a few of our favorite La Conner hotspots - some new, some more established, all great and ETC approved. Most of them we visited last summer & Fall, although, we drove through a few weeks ago to see what's new (and 'cause we love the place!).
Sample some of Washington's best wines at Hellam's Vineyard, located on the main drag in the Lime Dock building. Sample, buy, & enjoy a drink outside on the waterfront patio. Great selection!
Craft Ale Syndicate
We were so impressed when we found the Craft Ale Syndicate in La Conner last summer. A small and friendly place, it offers local and interesting beers on tap, Bob Marley vinyl spinning in the corner, and and TV above the bar to yell at while watching some soccer. Hip is not exactly what you'd expect in La Conner, but that's what makes this place perfect. We hope it sticks around!
Seeds Bistro serves great local food at all meals - breakfast, lunch, and dinner. We stopped by for a quick burger and loved it. Not to mention they built their entranceway around the oldest beech tree in Washington. They care about food and serving good food to you - it shows!
What tiny town has 3 museums? Make sure to check out at least one while you're there - The Quilt & Textile Museum, the Skagit County Historical Museum, or the Museum of Northwest Art.
That's just the start of things to do in and around La Conner. There's the book store, the antique store, the newly located Nell Thorn restaurant…and more! Definitely worth a visit and easy to spend the day exploring rain or shine.
~Paul & Amber ETC
*More info about La Conner here
*When we paddled the Skagit River to La Conner…without much planning;)
*Paddling the Swinomish to Hole in the Wall
*B&B Review in La Conner
*South Fork Skagit River kayaking near La Conner
Last spring we shared my epic battle against low tide in the mud flats of the Skagit River mouth. On that trip I left the South fork of the Skagit River and paddled out into the shallows of the Puget Sound. After a long day of paddling (and walking in the sand dragging my kayak) I eventually made it up the Swinomish Channel to the town of La Conner.
What I didn't know at the time, but suspected, was that there was a shortcut into the Swinomish…this would have cut at least an hour off of my trip…or more…it's called the Hole in the Wall.
To prove the Hole in the Wall exists, we put in at the sweet little public launch kayak dock under the bridge in La Conner and paddled south to check it out. Tides/currents are a big deal when paddling in the Channel, make sure you check - it feels like paddling upriver if you're going against it.
Above, paddling next to McGlinn Island…below, a shot of Ika Island past the wall. Also, here's a link to a great aerial photo of the entrance to the Swinomish (and just how shallow it can get).
There it is. The Hole in the Wall. We paddled through it - the current was swift. While we were there we saw a small powerboat make it through as well. Just know that at low/ebbing tide the other side of the wall could turn super shallow.
Our paddle back was a breeze thanks to the current pushing us along. Once you hit the bridge you know you're back to for launch site. Check out our spring Skagit to La Conner post here…don't forget to check the tides!
~Paul, Amber, Ann ETC
Hello club members! We've been adventuring our hearts out lately, enjoying some much needed Pacific Northwest sun. In our last kayaking post we shared our recent trip paddling down part of the South fork of the Skagit River. Well, as we mentioned, the trip didn't end there. Oh no. It had just begun. They say that an adventure doesn't really start until something goes wrong, well then, our adventure started when I emptied out of the Skagit River into the Skagit Bay & the Puget Sound.
Let me back up so you can really appreciate my mistake. You see, I've been slowly adding gear to my kayak over the years, especially when I'm paddling by myself (I recently saw a magazine article that claimed to break the "taboo of kayaking alone"...I was like, "I almost always paddle alone...there's a taboo?"). The water here in the PNW is cold all year round so safety is a top priority. I've got a dry-suit, a compass, a sail, an emergency oar, a bilge-pump, matches, an emergency blanket, a mirror to signal, a cell phone, maps, water, food, boots, a patch kit for the kayak, rescue tape, dry bags, whistles, sun block, and still more!
The one thing I forgot on this trip? A rookie mistake - I didn't check the tides and/or a chart. I had expected to kayak only in La Conner that day but when I investigated the weather and water on the South fork of the Skagit, (not to mention the thought of operation snow geese), I decided to grab all of that gear and go for it...at the end of the day I discovered that I had paddled a good 8 or so miles against a light wind and against the tide the entire time (even against the max current for awhile)...nice one. And by paddled I mean, paddle-paddle, drag bottom, get out, walk, drag kayak, sit, paddle-paddle, drag bottom, repeat. I literally had to walk/drag for over a mile. It was terrible. Let's take a look shall we!
Hmmm, that's a nice little sandbar. It's pretty shallow here...maybe...I...should...have...checked a chart or something!
Just click on the 'sat' button in the top right corner of the Google map above and you'll see what I mean. Silty. Just plain silty. I left from the Skagit State Wildlife Recreation Area and paddled towards Ika and Goat islands, went around them, and up the Swinomish into La Conner. There were a few birds along the way (not the thousands of snow geese I was hoping for).
The pic below about sums it up.
But not as good as this slideshow (click on the pic below).
Alas, as I paddle/walked my way to deeper water I was so excited that I could just sit and paddle without having to stop and get out. It was so amazing that over the course of this trip I was far from shore but could see the bottom and most of the time I could touch it with my paddle if I wanted to...crazy! (crazy for the NW at least, it's the norm on some of my Caribbean adventures). Deeper water meant kayaking towards the two islands pictured below for hours and eventually going around the one on the left to enter the Swinomish Channel (even though I found out about a 'hole in the wall' short cut later, I didn't want to risk it at the time).
Well, what doesn't kill ya makes you stronger - I made it to the first public boat launch in La Conner, just past the rainbow bridge, in about 5 hours. After researching the trip more (after I had already done it!) I could have probably cut the 8-10 mile paddle down to about 3 hours by taking some short cuts, watching the charts, and maybe even paddling it in reverse (although paddling up the Skagit river didn't really seem like a good idea). I did spy a longer but great trip idea - paddling down the North fork and then around to La Conner...hopefully I'll plan better for that one!
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