Anacortes is the largest city on Fidalgo Island, a portal to the potently beautiful San Juan Islands and quite worthy as an arts-oriented destination in its own right. Fidalgo Island is accessible from the mainland via bridges to the east ( Fidalgo is the easternmost of the islands) and is also connected via bridge to Whidbey Island (which in turn has ferry links to both Seattle and the Olympic Peninsula). Much of the San Juan archipelago is inaccessible save by boat, but even those without their own set of sails can easily explore the region courtesy of the Washington State Ferry terminal located at one edge of Anacortes.
Don't make the mistake of treating Anacortes as a jump-off point and nothing but, however. Name an outdoor activity and Anacortes has it on hand, whether you're after watersports, from power boating and kayaking to sailing or scuba diving (some hearty folk even waterski on the Pacific when it's particularly calm), wildlife watching for birds and whales or simply seeking scenic hiking trails. Beachcombing alongside the clear waters around Deception Pass, several miles south of Anacortes, is a lovely way to spend an afternoon, and with plenty of charters on hand, a day or two of sport fishing is within easy casting distance. Golf, mountain biking and sunset-watching are all popular activities here, and anywhere on the island is worth a walk. Mount Erie, Bowman's Bay, the bird-filled Heron Rookery and South Harbor Park are just a few of the green and natural spots you can visit in Anacortes.
But beyond watersports and shoreline activities, ferry rides and beach strolls, Anacortes has plenty of cultural attractions and quiet festivals. Visit the Saturday Farmer's Market or the Quilt Show, or check the schedules of Brodniak Hall - you won't want to miss the Skagit Symphony. or skip town without getting a closer glimpse of the cities historic murals.
Anacortes is on WA-20, about 81 miles north from Seattle and 40 miles south of Bellingham.