A Coastal Holiday Celebration

Photo by Steve Berentson

Every weekend in December the coastal community of Anacortes, Washington, offers a way to drink up a full cup of holiday cheer. Make a day of it by arriving in the early afternoon. Climb aboard the horse-drawn trolley for a free ride through the city’s historic downtown. Stroll Commercial Ave. to window shop or knock off some gift shopping. And be sure to see one of the most unique Christmas trees around―crab pots topped with an octopus!

After your downtown adventure, drive to scenic Washington Park for the Winter Wonderland Walk, a perfect way to experience the holidays in true Pacific Northwest fashion. Tucked in the park’s campgrounds, Winter Wonderland Walk is a free event that combines the love of the great outdoors with all things merry and bright. Best of all, it is family friendly. The experience starts at the edge of the woods, where visitors follow a candlelight path to the campground. (Flashlights and headlamps are not required, but they might help guide your way.)

Once you arrive, pick up a cup of complimentary hot chocolate to keep your fingers warm, and meander slowly through the campsites decorated by community groups who go all out for this event. Sites have dazzling decorations with ornamented trees, colorfully wrapped presents and holiday light displays. Some reflect the Anacortes community, such as fishing boats and gear strewn with tinsel and lights. You’ll also find the town of Whoville with appearances from the Grinch and Burl Ives’ collection of cut out figures from Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer like Yukon Cornelius, Sam the Snowman and, of course, the beloved Rudolph.

As you make your way around, songs from carolers and musicians drift through the air, and fire jugglers put on a blazing show. Kids will love the craft stations where they can make ornaments, paint rocks and discover their reindeer name. When it’s time for a sugary treat, you can roast marshmallows over the campfire for s’mores or stop by the reindeer-poop station for their popular sugar-coated donut holes. Before you leave, follow the rainbow lights to Santa’s campsite, where kids can whisper their Christmas wishes in his ear.

In Anacortes, good choices for dining are Rockfish Grill, Village Pizza and Bob’s Chowder Bar & BBQ Salmon. For lodging, Ship Harbor Inn is the closest accommodation to Washington Park. Other options include the Majestic Inn & Spa downtown. Uptown, choices include Sunrise Inn Villas and Suites or Islands Inn.

Winter Wonderland Park takes place December 7 and 8 from 5:00 to 8:00 p.m. For more information about Anacortes, go to anacortes.org.

This article appeared in our November/December, 2018 issue.