Cruising to Anacortes to explore and taste

A view of Anacortes looking west from Cap Sante Park.

From its early days, the boating industry in Anacortes has been a large part of the city’s heartbeat. For visiting boaters, it has two well-run and well-staffed marinas — Cap Sante and Skyline — a wealth of marine services and is just a short hop from the San Juan Islands. But what even seasoned Anacortes visitors might not know is that it has recreational opportunities and a happening restaurant scene within walking distance of its two marinas.

Stretch and Stroll

Five parks are within walking distance of Cap Sante Marina, which is closest to downtown Anacortes. Rotary Park, at the north end of the marina, connects with the 37-acre Cap Sante Park whose views of Anacortes, Mt. Baker, the Cascade Mountains, and on a clear day Mt. Rainer, is worth the climb. On the south side of the marina is Seafarers’ Memorial Park, which has a beach, a picnic area and is where the Port of Anacortes hosts its free summer concerts.  

Cap Sante Marina with Cap Sante Park in the background

There is also the unusual mosaic-walled Causland Park, which was built in the 1920s and is on the National Register for Historic Places. For Guemes Island views, head to Kiwanis Waterfront Park near the Guemes Island Ferry terminal or the small beach park at the end of N Street. And, for a longer walk, the 3.3-mile Tommy Thompson trail extends south into Fidalgo Bay.

For those docked at Skyline Marina, Washington Park is 14-minutes by foot. You can walk the 2.3 mile paved, hilly loop or its wooded trails that lead to panoramic vistas of the San Juan Islands. Closer to the marina is the beach along Burrows Channel.

The Local Food Scene

The food epicenter of Anacortes is along the town’s main drag, Commercial Avenue. Just a short walk from Cap Sante Marina, the long, north-south running corridor has a plethora of food choices to appease any appetite.

For over thirty years, Calico Cupboard has been serving up delicious breakfasts and lunches with omelets, waffles, specialty hashes, savory sandwiches and cookies. Dad’s Diner has two locations; downtown and the food truck on the corner of 23rd and Commercial Ave. Both prepare mouth-watering BBQ and smoked meat sandwiches and the downtown location serves breakfasts that epitomize comfort food. Their burgers are one of the best in town.

One of my favorite stops for lunch is Gere-a-Deli. But if you go at lunchtime, be prepared to wait as lines can often reach the door. Everyone comes for the fresh deli sandwiches, pasta and salads. My go-to salad is the Fidalgo Island Salad with romaine, toasted walnuts, craisins and gorgonzola tossed in a maple citrus vinaigrette. Vagabond food truck is another favorite for its deep fried chicken. Everything they have is good including the Yard Bird with deep friend chicken, Tillamook cheddar and gravy on a biscuit and their deep fried chicken and waffle.

On the opposite end of town, Bob’s Chowder Bar & BBQ Salmon specializes in seafood inspired creations, like New England style clam chowder, fish n’ chips and salmon tacos. And, near the middle of town, my favorite place for international food is Greek Islands restaurant. My go-to is the gyro, but they also make excellent salads, souvlaki, dolmades and Mediterranean dishes.

The Brown Lantern Ale House is the local hang-out with traditional fare of juicy burgers, slow-cooked sliders and alehouse nachos. Here you’ll be able to strike up a conversation with a boat builder, a fisherman or track the bar’s history through its chotskies tacked on the walls and ceiling. For wood-fired pizza and seafood fare Rockfish Grill is where you’ll want to belly up to the bar and also order a pint of locally crafted beer. Next door, H2O serves tasty upscale pub grub and an easy on the pocket Sunday brunch with an ambrosial Bloody Mary bar.

The Brown Lantern is a favorite Anacortes watering hole for many boaters.

A’Town Bistro’s cozy atmosphere, with its natural wood tones, white walls and rustic Old World style cuisine is the place I go to for a memorable meal. Some of my favorites are made-to-order clam chowder, duck and shrimp etouffee, and the CAB ribeye steak with smashed potatoes. Next door to Gere-a-Deli, Adrift is the place I head to for fish tacos. They make them with their catch of the day, cinnamon black beans, roasted tomatillo salsa and mango pico de gallo. Anthony’s at Cap Sante Marina and its newest edition, The Cabana, have fantastic marina views and local seafood. The Cabana also has an outdoor bocce ball court.  

A’Town Bistro, located on Commercial Street, has top notch eats.

Three popular places for happy hour are 5th Street Bistro at the Majestic Inn and Spa, Secret Cove and Union Tavern. The bistro offers a range of tantalizing items like salads, sliders and flatbreads, and they have a full dinner menu, as well as a rooftop lounge that has the best view in town. Secret Cove is probably the busiest bar in Anacortes during happy hour, not only for its great happy hour prices, which includes a rotating selection of three dollar well drinks, but for its west facing outdoor patio. The year-old Union Tavern quickly became a local favorite for its rotating beer list, classic cocktails and pub fare. My favorite here is the grilled smoked albacore melt with Swiss cheese on sourdough bread. 

There are also restaurants that serve Japanese, Chinese, Thai, Italian and Mexican cuisine, and pizza joints, including a new one, Coconut Kenny’s.

For something sweet and creamy after dinner, Mad Hatter’s Ice Cream scoops sixteen hard ice cream and twenty-six soft serve flavors. Try the mountain huckleberry or cherry amaretto.

When to Go

Boaters start trickling in by mid-April and when June arrives, the season is in full swing and lasts well into late September to early October. Obviously, the weather is usually pleasant, calm and sunny this time of year, but with generally mild winters, Anacortes is the second most popular transient port in the state and has a year-round boating season.

No matter when you chose to visit, Anacortes’ parks and food scene are sure to make an impression on boaters.

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2 Responses to Cruising to Anacortes to explore and taste

  1. Lara Dunning February 23, 2017 at 2:11 pm #

    Thanks, Kristin! Me too.

  2. Kristin Stewart February 20, 2017 at 2:37 pm #

    Great write up Lara! Now I’m hungry!! I like the idea of chatting with a boat carpenter at the Brown Lantern.

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