The PNW is home to an outdoor enthusiast’s playground. Northwest Washington is home to Skagit County, which is the perfect spot to find fun activities for the whole family this summer. Located in between Seattle, Washington, and the Canadian border, Skagit county touches the Puget Sound and reaches all the way into the North Cascades. With endless room to explore, traveling Skagit county will provide you with excellent indoor and outdoor activities to keep any adventure entertained for a long weekend or maybe a few weeks if you have the time.
Skagit County is expansive! So we have broken down this guide to adventure into three separate parts to help keep your travels organized. Activities to do near the water (the West third of the county), the Valley (the middle third of the county), and the foothills (the Eastside of the county).
Skagit County-What to do near the water
La Conner Washington Kayaking
Skagit County spans through Anacortes and into the Puget Sound, encompassing Guemes Island and Samish Island. This area is ideal for kayaking, boating and fishing, and biking! If you are looking for activities to do on the water, consider getting out in a kayak. There are plenty of rental areas in both La Conner and Anacortes. If you head into La Conner, launch from town and head southwest through the channel. Look for the hole in the wall, and you can paddle through and head into the Skagit Bay. Be prepared to see seals, porpoises, Eagles, and maybe whales, if you are lucky.
Biking Guemes Island
If you want to try your hand at Island life, head to Anacortes and take the ferry to Guemes Island. This tiny ferry will take you on a quick trip across the Guemes Channel over to the island. Guemes is a popular spot to bike. You can circumnavigate the island with views of Samish Bay, Bellingham Channel, the North Cascades, and Mt. Baker on a clear day. The whole island takes just a few hours to bike around, and there are even a few hiking trails that you can stop at on your path.
Deception Pass Bridge and Mt. Erie
A must-see stop is Deception Pass Bridge south of Anacortes. Rosario beach on the northside of the bridge is an excellent spot for a hike or kayaking trip. If you are feeling brave, walk across the bridge for a great view of the Puget sound from the center point. If you are looking for more incredible views of the Sound, consider hiking on MT. Erie. The trails will take you to a high vantage point to see amazing views of Anacortes, Lopez Island, and the ferry crossings.
The perfect place for a sunset picnic near the water is at Washington Park. With picnic tables that line the shore, you will be able to enjoy the sun and the saltwater all in one place. During the summer, this location is busy, so make sure to get here early to grab a table. Watch the Ferries pass to and from the islands, walk the trails or cruise the beach for shells. Washington Park is an excellent stop for all ages and a way to see great water views without having to hike. There is a road that takes you all the way through the park to a viewpoint at the top, so make sure not to miss it on your drive out!
La Conner Shopping
The quaint town of La Conner is not just the perfect place to launch a kayak from. There is a number of great shops to wander through and merchants to talk to. If you head down to the main street, find a parking spot and plan on spending at least a few hours checking out all these shops. Like a farmers market, you’ll want to check out all the offerings and walk down both sides of the sidewalk. If you get hungry during your shopping, pop into one of the many restaurants for a bite to eat or head into the Calico Cupboard at the end of the street for a Coffee or a dizzying array of baked goods to choose from.
Best stops in Skagit Valley, Skagit County
What is commonly referred to as the Skagit Valley is an excellent place for great food, biking, views, and fun. This section spans from Conway to Alger. Starting in Conway, consider heading the Skagit Wildlife Area-Wiley Slough. This area is a bird watcher’s favorite spot! Eagles, Heron, and more are all common sites in this area. You can take a bike ride on the Skagit River Dike to get here, or you can park your right at the wildlife area and walk the short trail out to the water. This area is high in ecological diversity. Take your wildlife ID books with you!
Food, drinks and more biking. Edison and the Bow, Wa area is a quieter area of the Skagit Valley, home to far lands and sloughs. Edison has a few excellent restaurants that come with great views. Check out Slough foods, where you can eat with a view of the slough and the wetlands beyond. Right next door, be sure to stop into the Bread Farm for fresh bread, cookies, and other baked goods. This entire area is excellent for biking, and if you head west from Edison, you can bike onto Samish Island.
Be sure to drive through the farm fields between Bow and Burlington. In the summertime, stop by From the Farm to get fresh berries: strawberries, Raspberries, Blueberries, and more accompanied by homemade shortcakes and local goodies. There is plenty of berry stands throughout the Valley. While From the Farm is dedicated to berries from the Skagit Valley, there is a fruit stand in the parking lot of Karl’s Paints & Supplies in Mt. Vernon that hosts peaches, cherries, and apples from Eastern Washington.
The Skagit Valley Casino
Suppose you are looking for a bit of indoor fun; head to Alger, just off I5 to the Skagit Valley Casino. Complete with a hotel, several restaurants, and plenty of opportunities to gamble, the Skagit Valley Casino is an excellent place for some adult fun. This large Casino is the biggest north of Marysville, Washington, which is about an hour south.
Mt. Vernon Farmers Market
In downtown Mt. Vernon on Saturday mornings, you will find the Mt. Vernon farmers market. Right along the Skagit river, vendors from all over the county set up on the embankment to sell food, trinkets, and local gear. If you are looking to support local vendors and buy a few souvenirs to commemorate your visit to Skagit county, this is the perfect stop. After you finish wandering through the farmer’s market, there are a variety of breweries and restaurants to walk to. There are also a few excellent shops to wander through on the main street.
Where to head in the foothills of the Cascades in Skagit County
Sauk Mountain Trail
If you are ready to hike the North Cascades, the Sauk Mountain Trail might be the perfect fit for you. This 4.2-mile-long trail takes you up switchbacks to the top of Sauk Mountain. During the summertime, you can see wildflowers, marmots, chipmunks, and butterflies. This trail gains 1200 feet and reaches a high point elevation of 5500, giving you great views of the rest of the North Cascades mountain range. At the top, there is often snow, so be careful if you want to venture farther than the viewpoint at the top. Bring a lunch and a cold beverage because you will want to spend a while sitting at the top, enjoying the views. This trail sits along highway 20, headed east into the foothills of the Cascades.
The Skagit River runs across the entirety of Skagit County. The river itself begins in southwest British Columbia in Canada and ends by flowing into the Puget Sound. The river is roughly 150 miles long. The Skagit River is the only river in the United States that is home to all five species of salmon. If you are a fishing enthusiast, then look no further. There are plenty of great areas to fish on the river.
If you want to venture just outside of Skagit County, you can follow the river up highway 20 to Diablo Lake, which is a reservoir created by the Diablo dam. The water here is often a picture-perfect blue, and there are plenty of viewpoints along highway 20 to take in the views. The Skagit river also supports one of the largest populations of Bald Eagles in the United States. No matter where you are on the river, you are bound to find lots of fish, birds, and views.
Just outside of Concrete, Wa, you will find Baker Lake.
Baker Lake is a massive lake situated just inside the Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Park. Home to hiking, fishing, boating, kayaking, camping, and swimming areas, Baker lake is the perfect summer stop. With stunning views of Mt. Baker and plenty of coves and beaches to explore, it is a favorite place for many people from Skagit County. If you are looking to stay, there are plenty of campgrounds on the lake.
Make sure to take a trip over the dam while you are here! It is definitely worth the drive. Bake lake has a few different swimming areas and public parks that often fill up during the summer months so make sure to grab a parking spot early in the day. If you are looking for a hike, there is a trail on the south side of the lake with incredible views of the mountains and even a few spots to jump in and swim.
If you are driving up HWY over the North Cascades, make sure to stop in Newhalem. This tiny town is the last town on the west side of the mountains and is a great pit stop on your way to Eastern Washington. The family favorite of this iconic stop is the retired train right on the side of the HWY. This historic train is often a playground for young children and their families. Make sure to take a turn ringing the bell attached to the front. If you need a place to stretch your legs, there are a few walking trails and even a campground in this tiny town.
At the very eastern edge of Skagit County, in the Northern Cascades off highway 20, you can find the Blue Lake trailhead. This trial is a hot spot for day hikers because of its beautiful views. This four-mile roundtrip hike is perfect for almost any ability hiker, and the payoff is huge. The lake is crystal clear during the summertime, and if it’s hot enough outside, you can even take a dip. During the summer, the snow will melt off, and the trail is clear and easy to navigate. If you make the trek during the summer, make sure to come back in the fall to see the Larches!
While many tourists are in Washington to visit Seattle, the Skagit County is a must-see stop just an hour north of the city. With places to play for both ocean and mountain lovers, there is something for everyone. If you are ready to hike, fish, boat, bike, and play in the Sound, you have to make a trip to Skagit County this summer. There is a plethora of tiny towns, ecological diversity, and stunning views. From the Islands all the way into the cascades, the Skagit Valley may be one of the most diverse counties in the PNW. If you are looking for the perfect escape from the hustle and bustle of Seattle, or you are visiting from another part of the country, make sure to start planning all your stops in Skagit county today!
If you plan to visit Skagit County this summer, these summer activities mentioned above should be on your list! Never underestimate Skagit County as this outdoor playground has lots to offer, and it will only make you fall in love with the PNW even more. To learn more about Skagit County, visit https://www.skagit.cleverneighbor.com/