Ok, so I’ll let you in on a little secret. Anacortes is our hometown. But this means we really do know the best things to do here. We recently did a little staycation here and had a blast falling back in love with our little island town. We feel so incredibly blessed to get to live here, and the summers really can’t be beat. Days in the summer are long- about 16 hours of daylight and temperatures are perfect with highs in the low 70s. We do get quite a bit of rain in the winter, but, generally, it doesn’t rain hard enough to keep us from going outside, and temperatures are mild. Exploring Anacortes with kids of any age is going to be a great experience.
However, many of the top tourist attractions in Anacortes are really not suitable for our little guys. Whale watching is just too long on a boat for a 3-year-old, and they aren’t able to go kayaking in the ocean JUST yet. But despite that, we never have a shortage of things to do. These are our favorite things to do in Anacortes with our 3-year-old twins.
1. Go out to breakfast at the Calico Cupboard
The food is amazing- my favorite is the granola yogurt parfait. Sometimes, I’ll even enjoy it with a grapefruit mimosa- YUM. My kids love the chocolate chip pancakes, from the kid’s menu. This place has excellent service and is super kid-friendly. I’m generally pretty terrified of taking my twins out to eat alone (without another adult) but I’ll do it at Calico Cupboard. If you are going to eat breakfast in Anacortes with kids, do it here!
2. Explore Rosario Beach and Rosario Head Viewpoint.
The beach is very rocky, which actually ends up being a good thing. My kids love checking out all the different types of rocks and throwing them into the water, and I love the sound of the water makes as the waves go out- very relaxing and different from the sound the ocean makes on a sandy beach. After the beach, check out Maiden of Deception Pass, a huge carved statue, then head up the trail towards Rosario Head. The loop is perfect for young hikers at about 1.5 miles long, and the views at the top are amazing. The area is huge, so toddlers and young children can be kept very far away from the edge of the overlook if that worries you.
3. Check out Deception Pass Bridge
If you are terrified of heights like me, maybe don’t walk on the bridge walkway with your little guys. You can drive over the bridge- my husband assures me it’s safe to do. Then head over to Deception Pass State Park, where you’ll get an awesome view from the ground near North Beach.
4. Walk along the Ship Harbor Interpretive Preserve trail and nearby beach.
My kids particularly love the boardwalk portion of the trail and walking along the beach. We enjoy playing in the sand, collecting seashells or crab shells (my kids, not me- YUCK) and watching the ferries come and go.
5. Pick Berries
Fresh northwest berries, eaten right off the vine are not anything like the stuff you typically buy at the grocery store. They are so sweet and full of flavor. Even if you don’t think you like berries, you are probably going to like these. Plus it’s fun for adults and kids to get out to a real working farm and do this ‘work’. We love Schuh farms for strawberries, and Bow Hill Farms for Blueberries. Also, check out our simple recipe for blueberry ice cream inspired by a recent blueberry picking experience!
6. Get Ice Cream at Mad Hatter’s
Super great ice cream, served in a super cute little shop, with a great area with grass, chairs, and shade to relax and eat your treat. This cute little shop is only open seasonally, so you’ll have to enjoy it in the summer!
7. Go to the Tulip Festival
Every spring, typically for the whole month of April, the Tulip Festival brings 1 million people to Skagit County. So yes, it certainly gets crowded, but go off-peak hours and the colorful gardens and fields. We love Roozengaarde for manicured gardens and muddy fields.
8. Take a Hike
We love the Cranberry Lake trail system. There are lots of shorter, but fun (think rocks to climb over and jump on) trails that my toddlers can do. The lake is also a great spot for kayaking, paddle boarding, etc.
9. Take the ferry out to Friday Harbor to explore.
To fully explore the island, you’ll need to make a reservation to bring your car on the ferry. It fills up fast, so plan early. Check out Krystal Acres Alpaca Farm, Lime Kiln State Park (you can often see porpoises from the shore), and the San Juan County Park. Or, make your trip a bit easier, and walk on to the ferry, then explore Friday Harbor on foot. Check out the Whale Museum, window shop at all the unique shops, and try one of the unique ice cream flavors at the Friday Harbor Ice Cream Co.
10. Go to John Storvik Playground
This park is half the reason we moved to Anacortes. This is probably the thing we do in Anacortes with kids most frequently. I’m not even kidding about that. It’s a huge park, suitable for kids of all ages, interests and skill levels. And there is even a wonderful spray park in the summer months.
11. Check out the view at the top of Mount Erie
You can drive all the way to the top and explore from there, or, if your kids are old enough, take the 5-mile round trip hike. From the top, you can see all of Fidalgo Island, plus some.
12. Drive or walk around Washington Park
The park consists of a walking-friendly 2.25 mile road, plus a ton of smaller trails that wander off the road down to the water, of through the trees. My boys aren’t able to walk the whole loop, plus explore down by the water, so we typically drive and make a few stops to get out and explore. We love walking down to the rocky shores at low tide and looking for tiny crabs and other animals in the tide pools. It’s such a neat and unique Anacortes with kids experience!
13. See the sunset at West Beach in Deception Pass State Park
This beach is also called ‘sunset beach’ because it’s such a beautiful spot to watch the sunset. The sand is so soft and fine, and my kids love playing on this beach. Cranberry Lake is JUST inland of the beach, and from the road, looking west, you can see the sunset reflecting off of the perfectly still lake, and setting over the ocean. It’s quite a view.