13 Most Charming Small Towns In Washington

Washington is a unique US State which includes tulip and lavender fields, ruggedly remote getaways, and endless water vistas. All this and more can be obtained by visiting one of these charming towns.

Anacortes

A view of the Anacortes Island Marina
A view of the Anacortes Island Marina and homes on the hill overlooking Burrows Bay, Puget Sound, Washington. 

Anacortes is a small charming town set on Fidalgo Island in Skagit County, known for Mount Erie and the Seafarers Memorial Park. The latter comes with boat excursions, concerts, and all the seafood imaginable. As an island destination accessible by boat, it is a heaven for solitude-seekers and activities in a remote setting. The beautiful views of the San Juan archipelago are perfect for a day spent out reminiscing, making plans, or simply get inspired by the vistas. Along with other destinations, the docked Washington State Ferries service to the nearby San Juan Island and Victoria, Canada.  Mount Erie presents a beautiful opportunity for hiking and walking the scenic trails with prime mountain and water vistas. The Anacortes Wt. Preston Museum in-town features a rare, historical steamboat and offers insights into the area’s maritime history.

Coupeville

Historic Coupeville Wharf in Coupeville, Washington
Rental kayaks of various colors at the historic Coupeville Wharf, which also houses the marina offices. Editorial credit: viewfinder / Shutterstock.com

As the second oldest town in the state, Coupeville comes with deep-rooted history to be discovered by engaging in all the water fun imaginable. Placed on Whidbey Island, Coupeville was named after Thomas Coupe, who settled the island in 1850. The notable original home of Captain Coupe himself, dating to 1853, is on the National Historic Register. Set on the south shore of the scenic Penn Cove of Skagit Bay, the waterfront area contains other marvelous 19th-century oak buildings. Housing some high-end B&Bs and restaurants, one can spend days in the surroundings of history and water vistas. The freshest seafood in the area includes delectable mussels, while the views of the harbor and walking the wooden pier demand to be photographed. 

Friday Harbor

Lime Kiln Lighthouse near Friday Harbor, Washington
Lime Kiln Lighthouse near Friday Harbor, Washington. 

The charming, historic seaport of Friday Harbor town is built on a hill on the eastern side of San Juan Island in Western Washington. Initially claimed by the Hudson’s Bay Company, this quintessential town keeps the charm of the past alive on the streets and at the San Juan Historical Museum. Thanks to the countless century-old buildings that line the streets, the walkable layout with well-developed paths are more joyful to explore by foot. Many of these house family-run restaurants proudly serve locally grown produce, shops of local crafts, and galleries. As a thriving arts scene, the town attracts many artists for the waterfront views emanating a sense of calmness and inspiration to create. The outdoor fanatics will find their own slice of heaven in the plenty of outdoor adventures, including strolls, kayaking, and whale watching.

Gig Harbor

Gig Harbor waterfront, Washington
Gig Harbor waterfront, Washington. 

Set on the namesake bay, Gig Harbor is 12 km to the northwest of Tacoma, connected via the Tacoma Narrows Bridge across Puget Sound. Know by some as the nation’s most picturesque town, the charming Gig Harbor comes with a waterfront-bounded historical center area featuring boutiques, galleries, and eateries, along with the Harbor History Museum telling the story of the city's roots through displays. The stunning surrounding scenery includes the Kopachuck State Park and the Skansie Brothers City Park, perfect for exploration, admiration, and scenic strolls. The magnificent Mount Rainier in the vicinity calls out to the active hikers. Known as “the gateway to the Olympic Peninsula,” many treat Gig Harbor as a set point to explore the beautiful region around, but stay for the watersports and the seafood at one of the many waterfront eateries.

La Conner

The historic town of La Conner, Washington
Skagit Valley's historic town of La Conner, Washington. 

Set scenically in the heart of the Skagit Valley, the historic fishing village of La Conner comprises a quintessential destination to visit and an atmospheric town to live in. Sitting sandwiched in-between the Swinomish Channel, Skagit River Delta, and the Salish Sea, many know La Conner's charming town centers as a vibrant arts mecca with an addicting conglomeration of quality shops and excellent outdoor access. The waterfront area of the nearby Skagit Bay and a close-knit community offer the traditional sense of the Pacific Northwest. The La Conner Daffodil Festival and the Skagit Valley Tulip Festival draw crowds from across the world to watch visiting and local painters and artists emulate the blossoming tones of La Conner. The town's most notable architectural icon is the Rainbow Bridge, while the adventures of the Puget Sound, Fidalgo Island, and the Deception Pass State Park can all be made in a day trip.

Leavenworth

Beautiful Leavenworth with lighting decoration in winter.
Beautiful Leavenworth with lighting decoration in winter. Editorial credit: Checubus / Shutterstock.com

Screaming of an old-German charm, Leavenworth is a Bavarian-styled town with magic at every corner and many activities. Starting as a logging town boasting the second largest sawmill in Washington in 1903, Leavenworth followed in the successful footsteps of the Danish-themed Solvang in California, re-branding and modeling on a Bavarian village in 1965. The authentic German restaurants serving schnitzel and bratwurst, among other alpine-style buildings, are back-dropped with complementing mountain views. For a real wonderland experience under a snow cover, the annual Christmas Lighting Festival provides an un-forgetful holiday getaway with loved ones. There is also the themed Oktoberfest, differing very little from the real deal, and the famous Nutcracker Museum with a collection of more than 5,000 nutcrackers, some thousands of years old. 

North Bend

Aerial view of North Bend, Washington
Aerial view of North Bend, Washington with Preacher Mountain and Snoqualmie River. 

Dominated by the imposing figure of Mount Si, North Bend is a naturally beautiful and picturesque town. The small-town feel of North Bend has been the inspiration for David Lynch’s cult TV series, Twin Peaks. The raw, statuesque houses back-dropped by the mountains harmonize with the wild nature to inspire a charm reminiscent of the old times and rugged remoteness. The myriad of hikes in the vicinity includes a popular trail that leads to the top of the Little Si, a smaller peak easily conquered by those who feel intimidated by its much taller double. Following the uphill journey, one will be rewarded with the best views of the charming townscape and the big mountain itself. 

Port Townsend

Historic Jefferson County Courthouse and Clock Tower, Port Townsend
Historic Jefferson County Courthouse and Clock Tower, Port Townsend. 

Forty miles from Seattle across Puget Sound, Port Townsend is set at the northeast tip of the Olympic Peninsula as a charming seaport town known for art, history, and natural beauty. As one of the most aesthetically-pleasing towns in the nation, its scenic storefronts complement the waterfront views, making the photographer revel from any angle. Rich in history, there are two National Landmark Historic Districts along with many original Victorian craftsmanship buildings from the late 19th century dotted throughout the town. The quaint historic streets and harbor are transformed with color and sound during the annual festivities and many cultural events, such as the notable Shipwrights' Regatta in February, the Port Townsend Film Festival in September, and the weekly Farmers Market on Saturdays from April through December. The great outdoor recreational opportunities include biking along ocean paths, exploring miles of beautiful beaches, boating and fishing at the bay, and camping in the nearby Ft. Worden State Park.

Poulsbo

Mount Rainier overlooking the marina in Poulsbo, Washington.
Mount Rainier overlooking the marina in Poulsbo, Washington.

Known for its Norwegian roots, aesthetics, and culture on the streets, Poulsbo was founded in the 1880s by Jørgen Eliason, a Norwegian immigrant from the old country, followed by waves of other Scandinavian settlers from America’s Midwest. Referred to as the “Viking Town," its thriving heritage is evident in traditions and notable landmarks. The SEA Discovery Center is a well-worthy experience guaranteed to mesmerize the whole family, while the Kitsap Memorial State Park trails call to be traversed in an atmospheric, fresh-air environment. Other remnants of ancestry in this Liberty Bay gem-town include the Viking Avenue-Lindvig Way with a 12-foot tall statue of the Norseman Viking, the famous Poulsbo Bread that is sourced in town, and the authentic craft beer served at the Valhöll Brewing. 

Prosser

The 25th Annual Great Prosser Balloon Rally in Prosser, Washington
The 25th Annual Great Prosser Balloon Rally in Prosser, Washington. Editorial credit: Victoria Ditkovsky / Shutterstock.com

Set in the foothills of the lower Yakima Valley along the Yakima River in South Central Washington, Prosser is a scenic town widely known as the ‘birthplace of the Washington wine industry.’ The charming historic downtown area of cobbled sidewalks illuminated by old-fashioned light poles comes with an array of tasty eateries, gift shops, and historic homes. The scenic charm of the outskirts includes the region’s lush vineyards, great for walking through in-between wine sampling. Aside from hiking and admiration strolls, the more active can partake in canoeing, kayaking, and other water-fun pursuits during summer.

Sedro-Woolley

Welcome sign at Sedro-Woolley, Washington.
Welcome sign at Sedro-Woolley, Washington. Editorial credit: Ian Dewar Photography / Shutterstock.com

Set in Skagit County in the vicinity of Mount Vernon in the Anacortes range, Sedro-Woolley is a charming town with an exciting beginning, having formed from the neighboring rival towns of Bug and Woolley at the end of 1898. First headed by four British bachelors, the name "Bug," proving unpopular, was replaced with Sedro from the Spanish word “Cedro,” meaning cedar. The second part came earlier, from the railroad developer Philip A. Woolley. The charming town has many scenic areas perfect for hiking, such as the Cascade Trail and the North Cascades National Park. The mesmerizing Skagit Valley of colorful fields of tulips is an ideal place for a scenic picnic, especially adored by the photographers.

Sequim

View taken in Sequim on the Coast of the Olympic Peninsula Washington
View taken in Sequim on the Coast of the Olympic Peninsula Washington.

Pronounced "skwim," the charming town set in close vicinity between Port Townsend and Port Angeles is one of the most scenic towns in the state. One of the sea-inspired communities on the Olympic Peninsula, Sequim takes the upper hand by pleasing all the senses at once as the Lavender Capital of North America. Also known as "Sunny Sequim," with the sunny weather a-typical to the Pacific Northwest Coast makes Sequim's successful lavender output possible, with Lavender Festival taking place each July. Many tourists flee to this charming town to soak in vitamin D while sipping on some of the best coffee in the area at a terraced cafe, such as the flavorful coffee shop, the Hurricane Coffee Co., in the surroundings of blossoming beauty. 

Stehekin

Boat Landing at Stehekin, Washington
Boat Landing at Stehekin, Washington. 

Stehekin is another town with a unique charm of isolation and ruggedness that can only be accessed by foot, plane, or boat for a true getaway feel. As the state's most remote inhabited community, its name is based on a Salishan word meaning “the way through.” Set scenically at the headwaters of Lake Chelan, deep in the North Cascades, the spellbinding views of 360 degrees around make each day spend there, worthwhile, with memories lasting a lifetime. Attracting trekkers in love with true wilderness, the town is also a secret destination for people from various walks of life, including artists, backpackers, and lovers, wishing to get some solitude to gather thoughts, get inspired, or create.

The historic buildings and cultural landmarks reminiscent of various heritages, such as the Bavarian-styled and the Norwegian towns, induce a unique atmosphere that is second-to-none anywhere else in the nation. The mountain vistas and the waterfront settings of these charming towns inspire the artists and call out the outdoor lovers and the tourists.

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