GETTING THERE: From Seattle, drive north on I-5 and take U.S. 20 west toward Anacortes. La Conner is south of U.S. 20 on La Conner–Whitney Road.
VISITOR INFORMATION:Contact the La Conner Chamber of Commerce, 606 Morris St. (P.O. Box 1610), La Conner, WA 98257 (www.laconnerchamber.com; tel. 888/642-9284 or 360/466-4778).
FESTIVALS:From late March to mid-April, the countryside around La Conner is awash with color as thousands of acres of Skagit Valley tulip and daffodil fields burst into bloom in a floral display that rivals that of the Netherlands. The Skagit Valley Tulip Festival (www.tulipfestival.org; tel. 360/428-5959), held each year during bloom time, is La Conner’s biggest annual festival and includes dozens of events.
The one must-see museum in La Conner is the Museum of Northwest Art , 121 S. First St. (www.museumofnwart.org; tel. 360/466-4446), housed in a large contemporary building downtown. The museum showcases works by Northwest artists, particularly Morris Graves, Mark Tobey, and Guy Anderson, all of whom once worked in La Conner. It’s is open Tuesday through Saturday from 10am to 5pm and Sunday and Monday from noon to 5pm; admission is free.
High atop a hill in the center of town is the Skagit County Historical Museum , 501 S. Fourth St. (www.skagitcounty.net/museum; tel. 360/466-3365), open Tuesday through Sunday from 11am to 5pm; admission is $5 for adults, $4 for seniors and children ages 6 to 12. As the chief repository of Skagit Valley’s history, this museum is overflowing with artifacts from daily life over the last century.
Housed in the historic Gerches mansion a few blocks away is the La Conner Quilt & Textile Museum , 703 S. Second St. (www.laconnerquilts.com; tel. 360/466-4288). Here you’ll find quilt displays and rooms furnished with antiques. The museum is open Wednesday through Sunday from 11am to 5pm (open daily during Apr); admission is $7.
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, 10441 Bayview-Edison Rd. (www.padillabay.gov; tel. 360/428-1558), you can bird-watch along 3 miles of trails through fields and along a dike. The reserve is open daily; the interpretive center is open Wednesday through Sunday from 10am to 5pm. Admission is free.
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.
Tulip Fields, Gardens & Nurseries
Duringthe Tulip Festival, stop by Roozengaarde Flowers & Bulbs, 15867 Beaver Marsh Rd. (www.tulips.com; tel. 866/488-5477 or 360/424-8531), the largest grower of tulips, daffodils, and spring bulbs in the U.S., and visit their display garden, tulip fields, and gift shop. At Christianson’s Nursery & Greenhouse, 15806 Best Rd., Mount Vernon (www.christiansonsnursery.com; tel. 800/585-8200 or 360/466-3821), you’ll find hundreds of varieties of roses and lots of other plants as well. Nearby you can tourthe beautiful English country gardens of La Conner Flats, 15980 Best Rd. (www.laconnerflats.com; tel. 360/466-3190), where high tea is served by reservation.