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The Museum of Northwest Art, 121 S. First St. (tel. 360/466-4446; www.museumofnwart.org), occupies a large contemporary building in downtown La Conner. The museum, which mounts a variety of exhibits throughout the year, features works by Northwest artists, including Morris Graves, Mark Tobey, and Guy Anderson, all of whom once worked in La Conner. This museum would be right at home in downtown Seattle, so it comes as a very pleasant surprise to find it in this tiny town. It's open Tuesday through Sunday from 10am to 5pm; admission is $5 for adults, $4 for seniors, and $2 for students and children ages 12 and over, free for children under 12 (free for all on first Tues of each month). You can also see art around the streets of downtown La Conner where more than a dozen sculptures (all for sale) are set up each year in the spring.

High atop a hill in the center of town, you can learn about the history of this area at the Skagit County Historical Museum, 501 S. Fourth St. (tel. 360/466-3365; www.skagitcounty.net/museum). It's open Tuesday through Sunday from 11am to 5pm; admission is $4 for adults, $3 for seniors and children ages 6 to 12, free for children 5 and under. A few blocks away, you'll find the La Conner Quilt Museum, 703 S. Second St. (tel. 360/466-4288; www.laconnerquilts.com), which is housed in the historic Gaches Mansion. On the first floor of this museum, you'll find rooms furnished with antiques, while on the second floor there are quilt displays. The museum is open Wednesday through Saturday from 11am to 4pm and Sunday from noon to 4pm; admission is $4.

There is excellent bird-watching around the Skagit Valley, especially during the winter months when migratory waterfowl, including trumpeter swans, snow geese, and various raptors, including peregrine falcons and bald eagles, flock to the area's marshes, bays, and farm fields. Eight miles north of La Conner at the Padilla Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve and Breazeale Interpretive Center, 10441 Bayview-Edison Rd. (tel. 360/428-1558; www.padillabay.gov), you can bird-watch along 3 miles of trails through fields and along a dike. Interpretive exhibits explain the importance of estuaries and allow visitors to explore life in Padilla Bay and its salt marshes. The reserve is open daily; the interpretive center, Wednesday through Sunday from 10am to 5pm. Admission is free. The Skagit Wildlife Area, south of La Conner and west of Conway, is another good winter birding area.

Shopping is the most popular pastime in La Conner, and up and down First Street, you'll find lots of great galleries, boutiques, and gift shops filled with an eclectic assortment of must-have objects.

If you are heading north to Bellingham, consider driving the scenic Chuckanut Drive that begins about 15 miles north of La Conner.

Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.