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6 things to do in Anacortes this winter

SPONSORED — There’s no place like the Pacific Northwest on a sunny summer day, but the chillier times of the year can be just as picturesque — particularly in Anacortes, the beautiful, quaint town on Fidalgo Island that serves as the halfway point between Seattle and Vancouver, British Columbia. The coastal community, set against the breathtaking backdrop of the Salish Sea and the region’s most spectacular mountains, is alive with festivities during the winter months. In fact, there are plenty of reasons you should keep Anacortes on your winter itinerary.

Light a crab pot Christmas tree, Dec. 2-3

If you thought crab pots were just for cooking, think again. In Anacortes, the weekend of Dec. 2 marks the annual Anacortes Chamber of Commerce Community Tree Lighting ceremony. The tree is famously created by locals out of dozens of crab pots, and attendees will enjoy seeing the town crier, Santa Claus and performances by students from local schools. For added fun, enjoy hot cocoa and cookies from the Salvation Army and enjoy a horse-drawn carriage or trolley ride.

Take a winter wonderland walk, Dec. 8-9

When you’re ready for more, the Winter Wonderland Walk at Washington Park is the perfect (free!) event for families. Washington Park comes alive with local service groups, clubs, businesses and families decorating campsites with festive lights and holiday cheer. Bring a flashlight or headlamp to light your way through the beautiful wonderland.

Enjoy the wildlife — Anacortes-style — November-February

If wildlife is your cup of tea, Anacortes has it all — particularly of the winged variety. Every year, thousands of people visit the nearby Upper Skagit River Valley to watch one of the largest wintering bald eagle populations in the continental United States — as many as 400 bald eagles counted annually. While eagles can be seen as early as November or as late as March, the best viewing is from mid-December to mid-February with eagle numbers peaking around Christmas — about three weeks after the large Skagit River salmon runs begin.

For eagle aficionados, the Skagit Eagle Festival in January is a can’t-miss event, with festivities happening every weekend in Concrete, Rockport and Marblemount. If your love for birds goes beyond eagles, you’ll find an impressive population of osprey, herons, snow geese and more on Fidalgo and surrounding islands. Get more information at Anacortes.org.

Keep warm and enjoy the history

Anacortes is famous for its breathtaking landscape, but when you’re ready to enjoy some cozy and warm activities, the quaint town has your back. The Anacortes community theater, as well as its year-round museum, provide plenty of culturally stimulating entertainment for the whole family. When you’re ready to bundle up for an outdoor walk, the city offers walking tours and historical tours showcasing the town’s most intriguing buildings and historical landmarks.

Take a winter hike

If you’re up for a real winter wonderland walk, look no further than Fidalgo Island. The area is home to dozens of spectacular all-season hiking trails for every ability level. Even when it’s wet and drizzly outside, the picturesque evergreen wilderness will make the cold a festive delight. Check out a comprehensive list of hiking trails at Anacortes.org.

Enjoy the arts

Like Anacortes, the art scene on Fidalgo Island is a little out of the box. While you’re in town, be sure you don’t miss Bill Mitchell’s Outdoor Mural Project, an incredible collection of more than 175 murals mounted in more than 140 locations. Peruse the pieces to find historical scenes, city founders, children at play, iconic ferries and even a locomotive or two. Mitchell, who grew up in Anacortes, has turned the town into a sprawling art gallery, ready for your viewing pleasure. Take a winter walk and enjoy a scene — or 175.

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