For a  town with a population under a thousand residents La Conner, Washington has received many notable awards including “Best Tiny Town in Washington,” “Best Romantic Getaway,” and “Best Northwest Escape.”

Part of the appeal is a very walkable historic downtown with unique shops, fabulous dining, plus paths that show off fantastic views of the Swinomish Channel and Rainbow Bridge. From the bridge’s lofty height, one can see the town’s historic downtown hugging the water’s edge, and in the distance, endless snow-topped mountains. In March, the town is hopping with visitors who have come to nee nearby bright yellow daffodil fields, and in April, the colorful fields of tulips.

As a  guest of  La Conner, I spent two days exploring this charming small Washington town and found out there are so many reasons to fall in love with La Conner.

La Conner Channel Lodge

La Conner Channel Lodge is the only waterfront lodging in La Conner. Photo credit: La Conner Channel Lodge

Channel View Room

When I checked into my guest room at the La Conner Channel Lodge, the sun had turned the clouds a purplish hue and shades of light blues and pinks danced across the water. To take advantage of this special moment, I took in the 180-degree view from my private balcony.

Private balconies offer views of the Swinomish Channel and Fidalgo Island.

I listened to the water lapping softly against the rocks, watched a heron catch dinner, and admired the mix of nautical and natural scenery that made me feel as if I’d stepped into a Monet painting.

Photo credit: La Conner Channel Lodge

My room featured a private balcony and a gas fireplace.

When the temperature dropped I slipped back inside my cozy room which featured a desk, a queen-size bed with plush down bedding, a flat screen TV (which you can watch while soaking in the bathtub), a refrigerator, coffee/tea, and my second favorite feature, after the private balcony, a lounging area next to a toasty gas fireplace.

The 40-room boutique lodge is the only waterfront hotel in La Conner, and its mix of lodge style and Pacific Northwest decor and rooms with channel views give guests a one-of-a-kind experience. Rooms range from king, queen, and suites, and some also have Jacuzzi tubs.

La Conner Channel Lodge Breakfast

Breakfast with a view, yes, please!

Each morning a continental breakfast with housemade granola, pastries, yogurt, fruit, and cold meats is served on the second-floor with both indoor and outdoor seating available. I decided to bring my breakfast back to my balcony and savor it with the peaceful morning.

The lodge decked out with holiday spirit.

During my stay I indulged in the afternoon assorted fresh-baked cookies with a cup of hot tea in the lobby’s holiday decorated sitting room next to the river rock fireplace.  Other guests did the same and some choose to relax in a quiet library nook.

If it had been a little warmer I would have relaxed on the outdoor patio, enjoyed a glass of wine or morning tea, and watched the boats cruise up and down the channel. After a property tour with the manager I was happy to discover there are plans for an outdoor firepit on the patio.

Guests may purchase wine from the front desk or at Hellam’s Vineyard, a wine shop and tasting room a short walk from the lodge. Guests of the lodge receive a free tasting and 10% off their wine purchases. While there is no onsite restaurant, guests may order in-room dining services from a special menu from the Oyster & Thistle Restaurant & Pub.

If you want to indulge in spa services the off-site spa is a short walk away and offers classic, deep tissue, and couples massage. There are also spa packages and romantic room packages like Ingredients for Love, Pacific Northwest Basket,  and Flowers by Surprise.

La Conner Art

Gilkey Square has picnic tables, fun art, and views of the channel.

Around Town

One of the most pleasurable experiences in La Conner is walking through historic downtown, browsing specialty shops, admiring the sculptures and art mounted along the sidewalks, sitting in lush garden courtyards, and taking an evening stroll along the channel.

There are also plenty of museums to tour. I visited the Museum of Northwest Art, Pacific Northwest Quilt & Fiber Arts Museum, and the Skagit County Historical Museum.  There is also The Norwester Museum Tour, which is John Wayne’s first yacht.

Museum of Northwest Art

In 1953, “Northwest School Art” become nationally recognized after an article in Life Magazine.

If you are a fan of art in all shapes and forms, visit the Museum of Northwest Art (MoNA) in the heart of downtown. Its permanent and rotating exhibits highlight Northwest artists, and, admission is free. If you are a fan of fiber arts or historic houses, visit the Pacific Northwest Quilt & Fiber Arts Museum. It is in the 1891 Gaches Mansion and has exhibits on all three floors. Be sure to check it the mural on the third-floor turret.

Edward R. Murrow

American broadcast journalist Edward R. Murrow grew up in the Skagit Valley.

If you are a history lover visit the Skagit County Historical Museum, which has an extensive exhibit on local history, and two rotating exhibits. During my visit, they had a Christmas theme exhibit with antique toys and another exhibit about migrant history in the fertile Skagit Valley.

Norwester

John Wayne and his family spent many summers sailing Pacific Northwest waters.

For lovers of “The Duke,” a tour of the yacht he affectionately called “Little Goose” is a must. You can even sit in his captain’s chair!

Sampler Platter at Whitey's BBQ

The Sampler Platter at Whitey’s BBQ is big enough for two people to split.

Restaurants Galore

There is no lack of restaurants in La Conner to choose from and over the course of my two-day stay I had the opportunity to dine at several different places. For lunch, I had the sampler platter at the recently opened Whitey’s BBQ Restaurant and quickly became a fan of St. Louis-style ribs.

Fish Tacos

Fish tacos drizzled with Baja sauce.

I also had fish tacos with Baja sauce at La Conner Seafood & Prime Rib.

Wild Gulf Prawns

The Western Red wine paired perfectly with the Wild Gulf Prawns.

On my first night, I dined at Nell Thorn Waterfront Bistro & Bar and sat at a corner table with a view of the lights dancing across the channel. I started with a glass of Lost River Winery Western Red and Wild Gulf Prawns with squash, greens, and leeks, which paired perfectly together. Then I had the Hanger Steak with Frites, which could have easily been split between two people.

Angel Food Cake With Lemon Custard

Lemon Angel Island

Not wanting to miss out on something sweet I ended with an angel food cake enrobed in lemon custard .

Duck Confit Flat Bread

Duck Confit Flat Bread

For the second night, a friend joined me at the Oyster & Thistle Restaurant & Pub. Downstairs is an English-style pub and upstairs is more formal dining. We opted to be transported to the British Isles and dine in the pub. We started with the Duck Confit Flat Bread with Shiitake mushrooms, house-made pickled peppers and arugula.

Amaretto Prawns

The Amaretto Prawns were encrusted with almonds.

For dinner we had Amaretto Prawns and Smoked Duck Fettuccine, and ended with a Salted Caramel Bittersweet Chocolate Mousse.

Other dining choices inlcude La Conner Sips Wine Bar,  La Conner Brewing Company, Santo Coyote, La Conner Thai Garden, Anelia’s Kitchen & Stage, Seeds Bistro & Bar, and Calico Cupboard Cafe & Bakery.

For more information visit Love La Conner.

Note: As is common in the travel industry, the writer was provided with accommodations, meals and other compensation for the purpose of review. While it has not influenced this review, the writer believes in full disclosure of all potential conflicts of interest.

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