If you want to enjoy some of Washington’s small town charms, don’t miss visiting some of the very best, with everything from towns with picturesque waterfront to glorious mountain scenery.
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North Bend (Hotel Prices & Photos)
North Bend draws a large number of fans of the hit show “Twin Peaks,” thanks to the Twin Peaks Cafe. Originally known as the Mar T café, it may look like an ordinary coffee house, but as soon as you step inside you’ll recognize it as the very same café from the still very popular TV series. While the owners may have changed, it still has the distinctive “T” sign, and offers a heavenly slice of Twin Peaks cherry pie, along with a “damn good cup of coffee.” Both fans and non-fans can also enjoy hiking the area’s many scenic trails, climbing Mount Si and visiting the Snoqualmie Valley Historical Museum.
La Conner (Hotel Prices & Photos)
La Conner is a beautiful, historic waterfront town located a little over an hour’s drive north of Seattle. It’s best known for its annual tulip festival, but it offers plenty of charms of its own, despite being home to only about 800 residents. You’ll discover a wealth of hot culinary spots, numerous art galleries, the opportunity for wine tasting, shopping at independent boutiques and the chance to visit three museums: Museum of Northwest Art, the Pacific Northwest Quilt & Fiber Arts Museum, and the Skagit County Historical Museum. There’s lots of picture-perfect places for capturing photos too, including views of the Swinomish Channel. Walk across the Rainbow Bridge, and on a clear day, you may even get a great shot of towering Mount Baker.
Langley (Hotel Prices & Photos)
An ideal destination for a romantic getaway, Langley sits atop a bluff on Whidbey Island. The town offers an especially tranquil atmosphere for wandering the streets that are lined with historic buildings hosting antique shops, book stores, cafes and eateries, many of which focus on dishes created with locally grown ingredients. If you’re looking to get active, you can look forward to strolling miles and miles of wooded trails, or kayaking as you watch for migrating whales and bald eagles. If you’re into wine tasting, you can even meet the winemakers that produce fantastic local wines.
Port Townsend (Hotel Prices & Photos)
Port Townsend is often named among America’s prettiest towns, surrounded by water and mountains. Filled with grand Victorian buildings that house a host of eclectic shops and a quirky artistic culture, just strolling either the downtown or uptown streets can be a pleasant way to spend the afternoon. To get to know its maritime history, visit the Northwest Maritime Center, Pope Marine Park and Jackson Tidal Park, where you can also enjoy views of Admiralty Bay along with the awe-inspiring Olympic Mountains in the distance. Just a few minutes from downtown is Fort Worden State Park, home to a number of long, sandy beaches and more views across the Sound, as well as trails for hiking and kayaks to rent for getting out on the water.
Poulsbo (Hotel Prices & Photos)
The town of Poulsbo is often referred to as “Little Norway” due to its Scandinavian roots. The charming waterfront is filled with shops, bistros, microbreweries and pubs, and also hosts a market specializing in Scandinavian items. Its popular Sluys Poulsbo Bakery produces famous Poulsbo bread and some of the best baked goods you’ll find in the entire region. Visitors can also enjoy walking the boardwalk alongside Liberty Bay while taking in stunning water and mountain views.
Winthrop (Hotel Prices & Photos)
Located in the heart of the Methow Valley on the North Cascades Scenic Byway, Winthrop is the ideal place to visit for a trip back in time to the Old West. It features Western storefronts and wooden boardwalks that are lined with shops, galleries, bars and eateries, while its surroundings are popular for outdoor activities, including more than 120 miles of cross-country skiing trails — the most of any place in the entire country. Winthrop also hosts lots of fun annual events too, like the magnificent Balloon Roundup and the Rhythm and Blues Festival.
Leavenworth (Hotel Prices & Photos)
This Bavarian village is a scenic two-hour drive across the Cascade Mountains from Seattle. It’s best known for its Oktoberfest and being one of the most magical Christmas towns in the entire nation. During the holiday season, with its Bavarian-style buildings lit aglow with holiday lights and blanketed with snow, it’s impossible not to get into the spirit when you’re here. But Leavenworth also offers a host of activities in the warmer months too, including a wide range of outdoor adventures like rafting, tubing and fishing the Wenatchee River, as well as hiking miles and miles of hiking trails. Plus, year round you can enjoy great food and drink, from brats and beer to farm-to-table fare.
Snohomish (Hotel Prices & Photos)
Snohomish is often referred to as the “Antique Capital of the Northwest,” so if you like antiques and history, don’t miss it. Its historic district is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, and not only are there plenty of antique shops, but lots of specialty stores, restaurants, taverns, music venues and spas. Snohomish also was recently named one of America’s Top 10 Coolest Small Towns by Budget Travel. It also hosts Flower World, an oasis of not only flowers, but farm animals, duck ponds, fruit trees and more. Nearby is the Maltby Produce Market with its great selection of produce, fresh eggs, apple cider and the like, along with a petting zoo where you can cuddle up with the goats, sheep, lambs and pigs. The adventurous may want to take in the scene from above with the Airial Balloon Co., enjoying panoramic views of the Cascade and Olympic Mountains, including Mount Baker and Mount Rainier, the Seattle skyline, Puget Sound and more.
Cashmere (Hotel Prices & Photos)
Most people associate Cashmere with apples, aplets and cotlets, but there’s more to this town than its apples and candy factory. This picturesque town sits alongside the Wenatchee River not far from the Cascade Mountain Range and Lake Chelan, serving as an ideal base for those who want to enjoy outdoor activities among beautiful scenery. You’ll also find cider mills, wineries and distilleries for tastings as well as a museum and a pioneer village.