EDMONDS — It’s a tourism promotion slogan that has been around for about 35 years. But there truly is something to the phrase, “It’s an Edmonds Kind of Day.”
In any season, a trip to an Edmonds beach can be the highlight of a day. Visit Edmonds during a stretch of glorious summer — complete with a walk-on ferry ride to Kingston and views of the mountains — and you will find that it comes pretty close to perfection.
Edmonds, at 127 years, is the oldest incorporated burg in Snohomish County, and, like most towns here, was settled (after the 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 out 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 Snohomish County, Edmonds was our provincial hub. It’s where, on July 4, we gathered to watch the parade and fireworks, and where we attended concerts, picnicked in City Park and spent at least a day at the annual arts festival.
This year marks the 60th annual Edmonds Arts Festival, one of the oldest of its kind in the state, on Father’s Day weekend 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.
The gem named Cascadia Art Museum, in a cool, midcentury modern building at 190 Sunset Ave., is focused on Northwest art. Works by Anderson, Graves, Mark Tobey, Kenneth Callahan, Helmi Juvonen, Paul Horiuchi, George Tsutakawa and Ebba Rapp are among those displayed.
Through June 25, be sure to see Cascadia’s exhibit Botanical Exuberance: Trees and Flowers in Northwest Art with paintings by Graves, Yvonne Twining Humber and Margaret Camfferman.
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 Within These Walls, presented in partnership with the Edmonds Historic Preservation Commission, and focused some of the city’s old structures.
On Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. in May and June and then until 3 p.m. through September, be sure to visit the Edmonds Farmers 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. (The market doesn’t run on Aug. 12 during the weekend of the 35th annual Taste of Edmonds, which features food, entertainment and activities for children at Civic Playfield at Sixth and Bell.)
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 95 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 is on the city’s register of historic places.
Downtown Edmonds is replete with good restaurants and bars — way too many to list, really — but here a few: Salt &Iron, 321 Main, www.saltniron.com; 190 Sunset, yes that’s the name and address, www.190sunset.com; and Las Brisas, 201 Fifth Ave., lasbrisasfood.com.
Also, enjoy art galleries, boutiques, bookstores, gift shops and the old Edmonds Bakery. Some of my favorites are: Cole Gallery, 107 Fifth Ave., colegallery.net; Zinc Art + Design, 1023 Third Ave., zincartobject.com; and Edmonds Bookshop, 111 Fifth Ave., www.edmondsbookshop.com.
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. Another local theater group is Phoenix Theatre, based at Firdale Village on the south end of town.
Take in free summer concerts most Sunday afternoons at City Park, Third and Pine, and at noon Tuesdays and 5 p.m. Thursdays 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, film and TV (“Mom”) 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 a train for an 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, take a whale watching tour and eat lunch outside at the Anthony’s Beach Cafe.
My Edmonds kind of day includes sitting on the beach where George Brackett’s canoe landed more than 150 years ago. I enjoy the view of the Olympic Mountains across the water. And I watch the ferries come and go as I keep an eye on my granddaughters digging in the sand.