Summer in the Pacific Northwest is arguably one of the best kept secrets about our region. Washingtonians have carefully presented a facade of coffee-loving, flannel-wearing residents who complain about the persistent rain – while eagerly awaiting each summer when the skies change from gray to endless blue.
Many travelers visit Seattle during the summer months, blinking in the sunshine as they arrive. Whether arriving by or departing from the Port of Seattle cruise terminals at Bell Street (Pier 66) or Smith Cove (Pier 91), an Alaska cruise is a key part of most visitors’ plans to visit Seattle and the Pacific Northwest.
If you have a once-in-a-lifetime Alaska cruise planned for your trip, have you considered what you’ll do before or after arriving in Seattle? Most travelers head straight to/from Seattle-International Airport to the cruise ship, and might spend a few hours exploring downtown Seattle. More savvy travelers extend their trip by a few days and explore further afield. If you are one such savvy traveler, be sure to put Anacortes and the Skagit Valley on your itinerary.
Visiting Anacortes & Skagit Valley from Seattle
Most travelers who extend before or after their Alaska cruise rent a car to explore Northwest Washington; if you do so, it’s a 2-hour drive from Seattle to the bustling town of Anacortes. Once envisioned as the terminus for cross-country rail services from New York City, Anacortes is a vital part of Skagit County, and a great base for exploring the area during your trip extension.
Skagit Valley is an expanse of land stretching from the Cascade Mountains to the coast, along the drive from Seattle to Anacortes. It’s most famously known for the Skagit Valley Tulip Festival which takes place every April, but there are plenty of reasons to explore during the summer months too.
Activities to Enjoy During Your Cruise Trip Extension in Anacortes
Summer in Anacortes and the Skagit Valley promises as beautiful weather as you’ll find in Seattle or elsewhere in the Pacific Northwest. The average high is around 75°F during the months of June through August, and the region receives less than 1 inch of rain per month on average during that time. That means you can plan on sunny days and exploring many of the outdoor activities the Pacific Northwest is famous for.
In Anacortes, consider booking a kayak tour from Skyline Marina to explore the coastline of nearby Burrows Island, or spend the day walking in Washington Park. There, you’ll find fascinating geologic formations alongside historic markers of Anacortes’ history.
If you prefer a less active vacation, Anacortes is home to several fascinating museums. After exploring the Maritime Heritage Center, you can step aboard the W.T. Preston Snagboat – permanently dry-docked near the Anacortes Marina and a crucial artifact from Washington’s maritime history. You can also spend time learning the history of Washington and Anacortes in the Anacortes Museum, housed in a Carnegie Library whose funds were successfully procured by the women of Anacortes in 1908.
Food and wine lovers will enjoy a stroll through Anacortes historic downtown district, where new flavors are popping up in both new restaurants, cafes, and bars, and long-established Anacortes favorites. This part of Anacortes is booming so much that it’s worth exploring the side streets too as many great establishments can be found tucked away.
Activities to Enjoy During Your Cruise Trip Extension in the Skagit Valley
In the Skagit Valley, your itinerary can be equally dynamic. If you want to stretch your legs, opt for a hike at one of the area’s popular trails, or book a cycling tour through the rolling farm fields. There are several providers where you can rent a bicycle, and routes that can last you anywhere from a few hours to a few days, depending on how much you love to pedal!
Skagit Valley is also embracing the farm-to-table food trend with several great options for food, wine, and beer lovers. True ‘foodies’ will love exploring the Bow-Edison food trail, which requires restaurants to source food from local farmers and co-promote the producers and other restaurants on the list. If enjoying a classic Pacific Northwest beer is on your must-do list, the Skagit Farm to Pint Passport Tour encourages you to sample your way through the area’s breweries.
Extending Your Trip to Seattle Before/After Your Alaska Cruise
If you’re going to invest in a memorable trip to Seattle and Alaska by cruise, why not extend your trip by a few days to enjoy the great weather and see more of the Pacific Northwest? To extend your Alaska cruise trip through Seattle, consider adding 2-3 day at the beginning of your trip, if you plan to sail from embark your cruise in Seattle, or similarly at the end of your trip if you’re disembarking in Seattle.
Anacortes and the Skagit Valley welcome visitors year-round, but the great weather of the summer months will convince you why so many residents love living in the region. Add in outdoor activities, a rich heritage, and delicious flavors, and you may well want to extend your trip even longer!