The Fidalgo Island town of Anacortes, Washington makes for an easy getaway with amazing views, farm-to-table cuisine, and both public and gallery art. I was invited to Anacortes to check out their art and…especially the First Friday event.
We came into town after a stay in Tacoma enjoying the glass art scene. So we were in a visual frame of mind and were looking forward to the art of this historic island community. Fortunately we arrived on the first Friday of the month. From 6 – 9 p.m. on every first Friday, Anacortes holds a downtown gallery walk. The First Friday Gallery Walk features galleries and businesses with special hours, artist receptions, and refreshments.
Visiting the Majestic Inn
We heard that the best way to start off First Friday was to have a light meal at the historic Majestic Inn. We were intrigued by the history of the inn and found out that it was formerly the McNaught Building. In 1904, a team of horses pulled it atop logs to its present location after the owners realized the center of commerce was going to be in that location, not where the building was originally constructed.
The building housed a large mercantile company and was converted to a hotel in 1983. Unfortunately, there was a fire and the current beautiful hotel and spa you enjoy at the Majestic is the result of major repairs and renovations. The building retains the character of early Anacortes. The light-filled bar and dining room is known for farm to table Northwest cuisine.
Happy Hour takes place afternoons from 3:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. The excellent Happy Hour menu ranges from salads and stuffed mushrooms for $4.00 to a marvelous salmon spread featuring sockeye salmon brined and smoked in house, blended with cheeses, herbs and spices, served hot with toasted pita bread for only $10. The Majestic has a full bar, signature cocktails, and happy hour wines for only $5.00.
Interestingly, the full dining room thinned out right about 6 p.m. so we joined the small crowd heading out to enjoy First Friday.
First Friday Gallery Walk
Our first stop was the old railroad depot which is now an arts and community center. The members of the Anacortes Arts Commission were displaying their art. We marveled at the innovative multi-media works and had a few cookies while talking to the artists.
Then it was off to see what the main street, Commercial Street, had to offer. We especially enjoyed the Scott Milo Gallery and even purchased jewelry by a local artist that night. We zig-zagged through downtown enjoying clothing stores, more galleries, and the small groups of art enthusiasts out for the artsy evening.
We ended the evening with at visit to Burton Jewelers where there was good food, wine and live jazz music. Local artists had set up special exhibits just for the evening.
It was fun exploring downtown Anacortes via the First Friday Gallery Walk and we took note of the date for the Anacortes Arts Festival which features the art of more than 250 artists from near and far each August.
The next day, we explored Anacortes a bit more. There is more art in Anacortes, Washington than just the once-monthly art walk. The historic murals, which are actually cutout figures of famous locals, are fun to discover and photograph. At the History Museum, a former Carnegie Library, you see Andrew Carnegie himself greeting you at the top of the stairs. I enjoyed the cut out of the little boy with a flag and army jeep at the Post Office while my friend discussed politics with a former mayor, also part of the mural project. You can pick up a mural map at the Anacortes Visitors Center on Commercial and 9th.
Exploring Nature in Anacortes
There are many more arts venues in Anacortes but we spent our last day seeking out inspiration from nature. Just a few minutes drive from downtown you’ll find the Cap Sante overlook. You can look out over the water and enjoy seeing boats leaving the Cap Sante Marina way below. On clear days, you’ll see Mt. Baker. Another fantastic place to look out over the San Juans is to take the Loop Road found at Washington Park on the other side of town. You’ll be passing the San Juan Ferry landing to get there.
If You Go
Anacortes is just 80 miles from Seattle and 250 miles from Portland, Oregon… a great getaway destination for a weekend or vacation.
For more information on what to see and do in Anacortes, visit Anacortes Visitors Information.
This experience was part of media trip hosted by the members of the Anacortes Chamber of Commerce. While this has not influenced this content, the writer believes in full disclosure of all potential conflicts of interest.