Romancing the Weekend: La Conner, WA

Photo by Pam Headridge

Possibly the most romantic getaway in Washington state is only a few hours north of Seattle. Established in the early 1860s, the waterfront town of La Conner is known as Skagit Valley’s oldest community and boasts a plethora of restored historical buildings. Nestled between the Cascade Mountains to the east and the San Juan Islands to the west, this charming waterfront town has it all: outdoor activities, museums, art and even a renowned annual birding showcase.

Skagit Valley is usually recognized for its spring and summer festivals, but La Conner is a lovely year-round destination with unique winter attractions. When you visit La Conner in the winter, you can witness the annual migration of birds as hundreds of different species take refuge for the season. Snow geese and trumpeter swans use the area as their wintering grounds, and bald eagles often congregate to feed and rest in the early winter months as well. You can find a thorough guide to birding in the Skagit Valley at the local Audubon Society’s website,

When you return to town, take some time to walk through the Museum of Northwest Art. La Conner is well known for its community of diverse local artists. The goal of the museum is to connect people with the art, diverse cultures and environments of the Northwest. The museum owns a permanent collection of work, but also hosts a variety of temporary exhibitions throughout the year as well as occasional special events. Admission is free and the building is ADA accessible.

Continue your trip with some time spent at Hellam’s Vineyard. This vineyard is the largest family-owned and operated wine shop and bar in the state. The whole idea behind the establishment is to provide guests with the very best wines from around the state, especially those that have limited production, and tell the story of the winemaker who produced them. Over the years, the Hellam family has formed a collection that includes fine wines from nearly every wine producing country around the world.

End your day with a romantic dinner at Nell Thorn Waterfront Bistro & Bar and a night in the La Conner Channel Lodge. Nell Thorn owners, Susan and Casey Schanen, take pride in only using local and fresh ingredients to produce high quality food and memorable experiences for all of their guests. Nell Thorn is considered to be one of the best restaurants north of Seattle with their fresh ingredients and a Northwest-inspired menu.

Your night’s accommodations are only a five-minute walk from Nell Thorn. In fact, the La Conner Channel Lodge is the town’s only waterfront hotel and is within walking distance to a large number of downtown destinations. Here you can choose from a variety of beautifully furnished rooms that will provide a tranquil setting to end your day in La Conner; complete with views of the Rainbow Bridge and serene waters of the Swinomish Channel.

No trip to La Conner is complete without a stroll along the waterfront boardwalk on the water side of the buildings that line 1st Street. Views of the historic downtown buildings and Swinomish Channel make the stroll worth the time.

To learn more about La Conner, visit To reserve a room at La Conner Channel Lodge, visit To plan your trip through Skagit Valley, go to

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