Best places to visit in Stanwood and Camano Island

Though located in separate counties, Stanwood and Camano Island are inextricably linked.

The city and the island form the Stanwood-Camano School District. Island people do business in town. The communities share annual events. A visit to one isn’t complete without a trip to the other.

The mouth of the river where Stanwood now sits was first home to the Stillaguamish people. The history of the establishment of Stanwood and East Stanwood (the Twin Cities) about 100 years ago is replete with stories about flooding, logging and lumber mills, fish canneries, frozen peas and dairy creameries. The towns consolidated in 1960.

Agriculture still plays a big cultural role. Check out the Port Susan Farmers Market throughout the summer, the Stanwood-Camano Community Fair in early August and the Harvest Jubilee in late September.

Port Susan and Skagit bays are home to numerous shorebirds and waterfowl, herons, eagles, hawks, snow geese and trumpeter swans. And as it is with many beautiful, bountiful places, Camano and Stanwood are home to many artists. The Camano Island Studio Tour is on Mother’s Day weekend and the following weekend in May.

This is a good month to explore Stanwood and Camano Island.

The fifth annual Great Northwest Glass Quest runs through Feb. 23. To participate in the Glass Quest treasure hunt, pick up a brochure at A Guilded Gallery, 8700 271st NW, Stanwood, and head out to find a plastic “clue ball.”

If you find one, return it to the location listed inside the ball and receive a limited-edition glass art ball. More information is at www.thegreatnwglassquest.com.

The ninth annual Port Susan Snow Goose and Birding Festival is Feb. 22 and 23.

The waters around Camano and Stanwood support some of the greatest concentrations of shorebirds, raptors, waterfowl, and seabirds found along the northern Pacific Flyway.

The Birding Festival, headquartered at 27130 102nd Ave. NW, offers free tours to see the birds and activities families can do at their leisure.

For more about the Snow Goose and Birding Festival, see Mike Benbow’s story on Sunday’s Great Outdoors page. You can also check www.snowgoosefest.org.

When you go, think about breakfast, because most of life’s important memories also involve food. Wayne’s Corner Cafe, 8614 271st St. NW, across the street from the Amtrak passenger train platform on the east end of downtown, is popular with the locals.

Try the French toast. The bread is from the new Y’s Country Bakery, 8620 271st St., where the raspberry scones are delicious.

In between the eateries is the Snow Goose Bookstore, 8616 271st St. NW, one of Snohomish County’s few independent bookstores.

If you are headed out to Camano Island in the car, stop at Kate’s Coffee Shop, 9808 Highway 532, for breakfast or lunch. There, the tradition of coffee and conversation continues in what formerly was the Scandia Coffeehouse.

Stanwood has a great Scandinavian heritage. You see it in its churches, the Sons of Norway Hall and the names of the old timers.

A fun place to stop for all things Scandinavian is the Uff Da Shoppe, 8820 Viking Way, just off of the highway.

To really learn the history, though, visit the Stanwood Area Historical Society, 27108 102nd Ave. NW.

While you’re in old Stanwood on the west end of downtown, walk around to check out the old brick streets.

Visit artist and novelist Jack Gunter’s shop, 10219 269th Pl. NW, across the street from Stanwood City Hall. Take a break with a brew at Leatherheads, located at 10209 270th St. NW. It’s a former fire station with lots of fire-fighting memorabilia inside.

Stay the night at the Stanwood Hotel and Saloon, 26926 102nd Ave. NW, where paranormal experts say ghosts of children live.

One of the Northwest’s best zipline tour companies is located on Camano. Canopy Tours Northwest gets people zipping through the tops of the trees in the Kristoferson family forest at 332 N. East Camano Drive.

The jewels among all the fine city and county parks in the Stanwood-Camano area are the state parks at the south end of the island: Camano Island State Park and Cama Beach State Park.

Walk the beaches, enjoy the views of the Olympic Mountains and Saratoga Passage. Be a tourist.

Gale Fiege: 425-339-3427; gfiege@heraldnet.com.

Tourist in Your Own Town

In each of our cities in Snohomish and Island counties, we have tourist attractions often overlooked by the people who live in this region. Have you taken the time to be a Tourist in Your Own Town? This the second in a continuing series of monthly explorations of our hometowns.

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