Escape to Edmonds

Located on the salty shores of Puget Sound, Edmonds offers stunning views, easy access to the great outdoors, a walkable downtown, and a vibrant arts community — all rooted in a rich Pacific Northwest history.

Founded by homesteader and logger George Brackett in 1876, Edmonds was incorporated as a city in 1890. Over the following decades, everything from rail and ferry service landed in the budding city, but it wasn’t until the completion of Interstate 5 that Edmonds truly began to grow. As more people moved to Edmonds, the city changed. However, one thing that remained was Edmonds’ undeniable charm — a quality that’s recognizable the moment you arrive.

A 20-mile drive from Bellevue, Edmonds offers Eastside residents a quick and convenient escape from the hustle and bustle of city life. In less than an hour, you can be at your destination, ready for a fun-filled day exploring the outdoors, experiencing the arts, or perusing the shelves at Edmonds’ numerous shops. Grab dinner at one of several acclaimed restaurants, and — if you don’t feel like making the drive home — you can even catch some Zs at Edmonds’ waterfront hotel or one of its many B&Bs.

Explore Downtown

Full of history, art, and culture, downtown Edmonds offers visitors a fun walking experience with exciting things to see and do at every turn.

For those who want to explore the town’s unique storefronts, downtown features a variety of shopping options. Charming gift shops, unique boutiques, bookstores, and galleries galore line the street.

You can replenish your reading list at Edmonds Bookshop, enjoy an afternoon painting pottery at Glazed & Amazed, or find something special for your home at HouseWares. Boutiques, gift shops, and inspirational galleries also can be found here.

After you’ve had your fill of shopping, brush up on some local history at the South-Snohomish Historical Society and Museum. With rotating and permanent exhibits — like the Jail Cell, Train, and Maritime Rooms — there always is something interesting to see and learn. The museum is open 1-4 p.m. Wednesday-Sunday, and admission is a suggested $5 donation for adults, and $2 for students.

During the spring and summer, the museum doubles as the site of the Edmonds Museum Garden Market and Summer Market. Both markets offer a host of handmade and homegrown goods, including fresh produce, flowers, crafts, and more. The Garden Market takes place Saturdays May 3-June 21, and the Summer Market takes place June 17-Oct. 7.

If you want to explore downtown and surrounding Edmonds but don’t feel like walking, Edmonds Segway Tours offers a unique way to explore the city. Rentals start at $25 and go up depending on the experience you choose. Take a 90-minute guided tour, or take the reins and create your own adventure.

Get Outdoors

Whether you want to enjoy a picnic on the beach or see some wildlife up close and personal, Edmonds offers ample opportunities to experience the outdoors.

Edmonds boasts several miles of sandy saltwater beach access. And in the summer, Patrick Doherty, director of economic development and community services for the city of Edmonds, said the city’s Beach Ranger program is a favorite among visitors both big and small.

Image courtesy Janine Harles

Beach Ranger Program. Image courtesy Janine Harles

“You can go down (to the beach) with your kids and hear from a beach ranger about tide pools, what lives on the beach, and learn about wildlife,” said Doherty. “It provides more of an interpretive experience for people down at the beach.”

Families interested in getting off the beach and on the water also can enjoy ferry rides from Edmonds to Kingston, or they can board the Puget Sound Express’ Chilkat for a memorable whale-watching excursion.

For more than 30 years, Puget Sound Express has been shuttling passengers around the San Juan Islands in search of whales, porpoises, seals, dolphins, and other marine life. The family-owned whale-watching outfit, which has two locations, in Port Townsend and Edmonds, transports passengers from Edmonds to the San Juan Islands for a close-up look at some of the region’s most majestic marine mammals. Whale-watching excursions from Edmonds are offered April 29-Oct. 28 with 9:30 a.m. departures, and June 10-Sept. 10 with 2:30 p.m. departures. The trips last about four to five hours, and fares are $135 for adults, $85 for children ages 2-10, and free for infants.

Photo courtesy of Puget Sound Express

Photo courtesy of Puget Sound Express

If you’re more of a marine mammal yourself, you can dive right in at Edmonds’ Underwater Park. Located just north of the Edmonds-Kingston Ferry Landing, the park offers 27 acres of tide- and bottomlands, half of which have been developed specifically for scuba divers. The park, which sees about 25,000 divers each year, is ranked among Washington’s most popular underwater parks and features everything from man-made reef structures to sunken vessels, creating the perfect habitat for marine life. Parking, restrooms, a changing area, showers, and a foot-wash station all are available at the park, and air can be purchased nearby at Edmonds’ Underwater Sports. 

If water sports aren’t your thing, the Edmonds Marsh provides visitors with a unique experience to explore one of the Puget Sound’s few remaining saltwater estuaries in search of birds and other wildlife. “For people that are into observing wildlife or watching birds, (the marsh) is a good place to go,” Doherty said. Visitors can follow the boardwalk in search of the 90 species of birds that call the marsh home during the year, or just stroll through and enjoy the peaceful sounds of nature.

Experience the Arts

One thing that makes the city of Edmonds so special is its vibrant arts community. “It’s kind of a phenomenon you see in quaint towns,” Doherty said, “especially ones by the sea or water. It seems to be that the aesthetics of the place engender an artistic sensibility.”

With dozens of art galleries and organizations, an art museum, performance center, historic theater, and more, there is no lack of art in Edmonds.

If you want to experience the Edmonds arts community in one fell swoop, Art Walk Edmonds, which takes place the third Thursday of each month, is a great way to do so. This free, community event takes place year-round, rain or shine, every third Thursday. From 5-8 p.m., galleries, shop owners, community members, and visitors to the area come together to celebrate art, music, food, and more.

Of course, if you can’t make it to Edmonds on a Thursday night, you can always plan your own gallery tour, visit the art museum, or make plans to catch a live performance at the Edmonds Center for the Arts.

Cascadia Art Museum. Top Photo courtesy Cascadia Art Museum Ten Gun Design; Image courtesy Edmonds Arts Commission

Photo courtesy Cascadia Art Museum Ten Gun Design

If you plan on visiting the Cascadia Art Museum, get ready to enjoy a feast for your eyes. The museum features five galleries as well as visiting exhibitions highlighting the works of Pacific Northwest artists and representing a range of mediums from paintings and prints, to photography, sculpture, and more. The museum is open Wednesday-Sunday 11 am-6 p.m., and the third Thursday of each month from 5-8 p.m. for Art Walk Edmonds. Admission is $10 for adults, $7 for seniors and youth 18 and under, free for children 4 and under, and free during Art Walk Edmonds.

For something more upbeat, the Edmonds Center for the Arts is a great place to enjoy live music, dance, and other performance arts events. You can visit the center’s website for a list of upcoming events and ticket prices.

With so many artists living and working in Edmonds, Doherty said, the arts community in Edmonds continues to grow and flourish. “It’s an environment that inspires people to be artistic, and then once that seed is planted, it just kind of spreads,” he said.

Grab a Bite to Eat

Whether you choose to spend the day exploring the outdoors, taking in some art, or just wandering around historic downtown, you are certain to work up an appetite. Luckily, there’s a lot to devour in Edmonds. From fine dining to hole-in-the-wall-type hidden gems, Edmonds serves up something for every appetite.

Photo courtesy Salt & Iron/Petricore Photography

Photo courtesy Salt & Iron/Petricore Photography

If you’re in the mood for fresh seafood and juicy steaks, Salt & Iron is a must. Start off with the duck confit, steak tartare, or one of several charcuterie boards, then settle in for a main course of fresh clams and linguine, wild mushroom risotto, salmon with cheesy grits, or a tender cut of steak. You really can’t go wrong.

For seasonal offerings and a menu for just about every meal of the day — including breakfast, brunch, lunch, dinner, and happy hour — Chanterelle is a local favorite. You’ll find plenty of seasonal offerings on the menu, as well as south-of-the-border-inspired tacos and burritos, a variety of fresh seafood entrees, and even a few pasta dishes.

If it’s Mexican food you’re craving, La Brisas dishes up south-of-the-border fare with subtle twists of Pacific Northwest flavor. The menu boasts Mexican classics like tacos al carbon, pozole, and carne asada, as well as Dungeness crab enchiladas, a romaine and organic kale Caesar salad, and spicy goat cheese jalapeños.

After your appetite is well sated, enjoy a nightcap at Daphne’s, or indulge in a beer at Salish Seas Brewing Co. 

Extend Your Visit

With so much to do, you may want to extend your daycation to a weekend getaway. Lodging is limited in Edmonds, but think quality over quantity. The Best Western Plus Edmonds Harbor Inn offers guests comfortable accommodations right on the water. Or, if you’re looking for something more intimate or out of the ordinary, local B&Bs and Airbnbs also are available.

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is a staff writer at 425 magazine. Email her.
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