Pronounced "Anna-Cortis," Anacortes, Washington is named for Anna Curtis, the wife of early Fidalgo Island settler, Amos Bowman. Poised halfway between Seattle and Vancouver, B.C.—with Fidalgo Bay to the east and the waters of Puget Sound to the west—Anacortes is perfectly placed for its role as homeport to the four islands of the San Juan Archipelago: Lopez, Shaw, Orcas, and San Juan.
Unlike the islands it serves, Fidalgo Island is anchored to the Washington mainland and can be reached by car. Travelers not accessing the islands by air via the Orcas Island or Lopez Island airports will board the Washington State Ferry at Anacortes and make their way to the islands by ship, a not-so-regrettable fate once one is afloat and experiencing, up close, the awesome beauty of Puget Sound.
In Anacortes' "Old Town," visitors can stroll among a variety of antique shops and galleries where everything from paintings, sculpture, jewelry, glass-work, and photography. There's also the Anacortes Museum and Maritime Heritage Center where you'll find vintage photos and art work in its Carnegie Gallery. When you're hungry, sample one of 50 eateries in Anacortes serving everything from deli-sandwiches to Mediterranean and Mexican fare. If you're in the city in August, check out the Anacortes Arts Festival. In October, there's "Bier on the Pier," Anacortes' version of Oktoberfest.
Though most of Anacortes hugs the waters of Puget Sound in the north and wraps eastward along Fidalgo Bay, much of Fidalgo Island is undeveloped. Certainly, there's no lack of things to do out on or near the water. You can take a whale-watching tour, go kayaking, sailing, boating, and crabbing. But south of bustling Anacortes are vast stretches of green with parks and lakes where bikers and birders, hikers and wildlife watchers, can see everything from eagles, to deer, otters to raccoons, and beaver to coyote. Climb Mount Erie and get an eagle's-eye view of the surrounding area.
Whether charming and picturesque Anacortes is, for you, just a jumping off point to the San Juans, or a destination in-itself, take a little time to savor the history and beauty of this little city nestled by the waters of Puget Sound.