EDMONDS — This past Saturday, I walked from my daughter’s house near Firdale Village all the way to downtown Edmonds and back. That’s nearly 7 miles. Yay for me.
More than the exercise (up that hill!) though, what I got from the walk was a reminder of all the reasons I like this place.
Edmonds, at 125 years, is the oldest incorporated burg in Snohomish County, and, like most towns here, was settled (after Coast Salish people, of course) by timber venturists.
The story goes that logger George Brackett came to the future site of Edmonds while paddling a canoe north of Seattle, searching for timber. When a gust of wind hit his canoe, Brackett beached at what we now call “Brackett’s Landing,” the great little beach parks on either side of the state ferry dock.
For me and a lot of other people who grew up in south county, Edmonds was the hub. It’s where, on July 4, we gathered on Sunset Avenue to watch fireworks shot out over Puget Sound, and where we heard concerts, picnicked in City Park and went to the arts festival.
This weekend marks the 58th annual Edmonds Arts Festival, one of the oldest of its kind in the state, centered at the Frances Anderson Center, 700 Main St.
At various points, Edmonds was home to some of this state’s most historically famous artists, including the 20th century masters Morris Graves and Guy Anderson.
In September, the new Cascadia Art Museum will open in the old mid-century modern grocery store building at 190 Sunset Ave. The museum will focus on Northwest art, drawing from the Edmonds-based Echelbarger family collection.
History mingles well with current culture in Edmonds.
Built in 1910, the former Carnegie library is now the Edmonds Historical Museum, at Fifth and Bell. The main exhibit this summer is “Snapshots in Time,” which pairs recent photos with historical pictures of places around the city. The school bell that first called children to class in Edmonds in the 1890s is now in the new Museum Plaza.
On Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. through Oct. 3, be sure to visit the Summer Market, adjacent to the museum. Buy produce from local farmers, savor a good lunch and listen to local musicians. It’s a great little market, and all of downtown seems festive because of it.
Edmonds has other historical treasures, still used to full advantage, including the many antique homes lovingly preserved in the downtown “bowl” area.
The Edmonds Theater has been showing movies for more than 90 years at 415 Main St. The theater went digital in 2012, so you can still see first-run flicks at the old cinema.
The Schumacher Building, 316 Main St., best known as home of the Chanterelle restaurant, is one of Edmonds’ last standing commercial buildings from the 1890s. It recently was named to the city’s register of historic places.
Downtown Edmonds is replete with good restaurants and bars, way too many to list. Also, enjoy art galleries, boutiques, bookstores, gift shops and the old Edmonds Bakery.
Over on Fourth Avenue at Daley Street, the beautiful art deco-style former Edmonds High School is now the Edmonds Center for the Arts, which brings regional and internationally known musicians, dancers and actors to town. Its intimate performance venue also is home to the Cascade Symphony Orchestra, the Sno-King Community Chorale, and Olympic Ballet Theatre.
Edmonds Driftwood Players offer some of the best community theater around at their Wade James Theatre, 950 Main St. The current production is the revival of the 1960s French comedy “Boeing Boeing.” Another local theater group is Phoenix Theatre, based at Firdale Village on the south end of town.
Take in free summer concerts Sunday afternoons, July 12 to Aug. 23, at City Park, Third and Pine; and noon most Tuesdays, July 21 to Aug. 25, and 5 p.m. most Thursdays, July 9 through Aug. 27, at Hazel Miller Plaza, Fifth and Maple.
Speaking of entertainers, the list of famous people who grew up in Edmonds includes “Jeopardy!” winner Ken Jennings, actress Anna Faris, “Here Come the Brides” TV star Bridget Hanley and rapper Jay Park. Athletes from Edmonds include Olympic figure skater Rosalynn Sumners and major league baseball players Dave Hamilton and Todd Linden.
Travel guru Rick Steves grew up in Edmonds and regularly sings the praises of his hometown. Visit his shop at 130 Fourth Ave. N.
Had enough of the artsy stuff? Try these activities:
Ride the ferry to Kingston and back, hop on the Amtrak for a train excursion to Seattle, fish off the pier, scuba in the underwater park, watch birds in the Edmonds Marsh, swim at Yost Pool, take your dog to Marina Beach Park, walk along the marina off Admiral Way and eat lunch at the Beach Cafe.
My perfect Edmonds kind of day is sitting on the beach where George Brackett’s canoe landed about 150 years ago. I enjoy the view of the Olympic Mountains across the water. I watch the ferries come and go as I keep an eye on my granddaughter digging in the sand.
Gale Fiege: 425-339-3427; firstname.lastname@example.org. Twitter: @galefiege.
Tourist in your own town
In each of our local cities, we have tourist attractions often overlooked by the people who live in this region. Have you been a Tourist in Your Own Town? This is the 18th in a series of monthly explorations of our hometowns. For other Tourist in Your Own Town stories and for links to more information and photos about Edmonds and each town we’ve covered, go to www.heraldnet.com/tourist.