Photo © Wikimedia Commons
by Allen Cox
There are a number of ways to discover a new town. Walking tours are gaining popularity and are a smart way for cities to attract people eager to explore new places. These tours are usually themed to focus on a person’s interest: history, art and nature are just a few examples. And the most economical walking tours are self-guided; you can tip your tour guide (yourself) with a treat from the local bakery or ice cream shop.
The waterfront city of Edmonds, about a half hour north of Seattle, sprawls along the eastern shore of Puget Sound. The green lowlands of Kitsap Peninsula spread out across the sound, a short ferry ride away, and the Olympic Mountains rise behind the peninsula. There are few destinations more scenic. Add a historic town with a thriving Main Street, a lively arts scene, fine food and boutique shopping, and you have the ingredients for a picture-perfect outing.
Back to walking tours. Edmonds arguably leads the pack, and each tour has a printable map to guide you to the points of interest along the way.
If history gets your pulse racing, Edmonds has the ultimate thrill for you: the Edmonds Historic Sites Walking Tour. The brochure contains a succinct overview of the area’s past, and the map guides you to 29 separate sites in a roughly one-square-mile section of the city’s historic center. You’ll visit one of the oldest standing houses in Edmonds, built in 1888. You’ll see the Odd Fellows Hall, built in 1890, the scene of political rallies, community meetings and the first motion picture shown in Edmonds. You’ll stop at exquisitely detailed examples of Queen Anne architecture, fashionable at the turn of the 20th century, and examples of the art deco movement, such as the 1923 Princess Theater, built as a Vaudeville house and today serving as the Edmonds Theater, the city’s art film house. Each of the 27 sites on the map has a brief description of the structure’s history.
Another history-related walking tour explores the Edmonds Memorial Cemetery. The sites on the tour are the grave sites of local luminaries instrumental in the early history of the area. The tour brochure relates a brief historical biography of each, another fascinating introduction to the area’s past.
Edmonds has adorned its public spaces with an impressive collection of art. To make it easy for you to find the installations, they have created the Edmonds Public Art Walking Tour. Twelve of the 15 art pieces are in the city’s central core, accessible on foot. Three others are in outlying areas and require driving.
If you plan your visit during the weekend of September 20 and 21, 2014, you won’t want to miss the Edmonds Artist Studio Tour. This self-guided, mapped tour does require driving, but takes in the best of the artist community. Of course, you can fashion your own art walking tour any time by browsing the compact downtown area and stopping at galleries that catch your eye. Don’t miss the Randall J. Hodges Gallery (Hodges is a fine art nature photographer) at 317 Main Street (randalljhodges.com).
For more information about visiting Edmonds and for printable walking tour brochures, go to edmondswa.gov/visiting.html.