Quaint Inn with Gourmet Seafood Restaurant
Like something out of a Norman Rockwell painting, La Conner's downtown waterfront is lined with 19th-century brick buildings housing specialty shops and ice-cream parlors. La Conner Country Inn fits right into this picture of small-town Americana with its weathered cedar-shake siding. Inside, the lodge is as quaint as the façade suggests. A massive river-rock fireplace anchors the lobby, and guest rooms feature cathedral-style wood-beam ceilings and shuttered windows.
The hotel's restaurant, Nell Thorn, specializes in fresh seafood and organic meats, and, according to Frommer's, serves some of the "finest meals" in town. The menu is full of dishes sourced from local farms, and a chalkboard by the door lists all of the current suppliers so diners know where their food is coming from. Savor house-butchered grilled lamb chops, or try the region's famous local oysters prepared on the half-shell, pan-crisped, or shooter-style.
Deluxe queen rooms give off pastoral vibes with knotted-wood furnishings and floral-print upholstery. A red brick fireplace, included in every room, completes the ambiance while the wall-mounted, flat-screen TVs add a touch of modern elegance. Head to the library in the morning for a free continental breakfast that includes homemade granola, fresh pastries, and hard-boiled eggs.
La Conner, Washington: Historic Waterfront Town with Strong Contemporary-Arts Scene
Situated halfway between Seattle and Vancouver, La Conner is a small, waterfront town surrounded by tulip and daffodil farms. It's the oldest town in Skagit County, originally thriving as a fishing village thanks to its location at the tip of the Swinomish Channel, a saltwater slough that connected local fisherman to the Puget Sound. Today, you're more likely to see recreational boaters sailing the channel, and the bright-orange Rainbow Bridge gives one of the best views of the waterfront.
Following the Great Depression, La Conner became a haven for writers and artists who found inspiration in the picturesque scenery and quiet lifestyle. By 1970 the town was home to one of the most vibrant artists' communities in the northwest. You can glimpse this legacy at the Museum of Northwest Art, where exhibits highlight work from the region's many contemporary artists including Walter Isaacs and Morris Graves.
For a living history lesson, check out the 19th-century homes and wood false-front buildings that line the streets of downtown La Conner, which has more than 160 buildings listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Among them, the restored Gaches Mansion houses the Quilt and Textile Museum. It's one of the few such museums in the country and features three stories of locally made quilts that range from traditional to contemporary.