A couple takes a photo in front of the Mukilteo Lighthouse. The lighthouse, built in 1906, is one of the most iconic landmarks in all of Snohomish County. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)

A couple takes a photo in front of the Mukilteo Lighthouse. The lighthouse, built in 1906, is one of the most iconic landmarks in all of Snohomish County. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)

The top 10 most-visited attractions in Snohomish County

Forget about some far-off destination — check out these places in your back yard.

It’s about time for an adventure.

Forget about those far-off destinations. How about something right in your back yard?

Snohomish County offers plenty to see and do, but to narrow the list, we sought the advice of tourism officials and recreation managers.

Without any further ado, here are the top 10 tourist attractions in Snohomish County.

10. Big Four Ice Caves

The ice caves east of Granite Falls are a popular yet dangerous destination for hikers.

The Big Four Ice Caves draw tens of thousands of visitors July through September. Formed from an avalanche snowpile, the caves are accessible by a trail off the Mountain Loop Highway at the base of Big Four Mountain. If you go, be careful: Four people have died in the past 20 years from collapsing ice in the caves.

Park rangers advise visitors to take in the sights from a distance.

9. Darrington’s trails

The small town of Darrington in east county has the biggest wilderness to explore.

Around 80,000 people hiked more than 350 miles of trails from Darrington’s Neiderprum and Whitehorse trailheads in 2017, far outnumbering the town’s population of about 1,300.

The 500,000 acres of designated wilderness also includes a 45-mile stretch of the Pacific Crest Trail — the 2,659-mile trail that stretches from Canada to Mexico — and new mountain bike trails at the base of North Mountain.

8. Alderwood mall

With 159 stores, the Alderwood mall is the largest of its kind in Snohomish County.

The mall is home to the first Zumiez store in the world, which sells gear and clothing for skateboarders, snowboarders and surfers, and America’s first Daiso store, a Japanese dollar store.

7. Edmonds Pier

The Edmonds Pier is one of the city’s best known landmarks.

Built in 1975 and renovated in 2016, the L-shaped pier sees about 100,000 visitors per year for fishing, bird watching and crabbing. Sightseers watch ferries cross Puget Sound with a backdrop of the Olympic Mountains and, looking north, the southern tip of Whidbey Island.

6. Everett Marina

The Port of Everett’s marina is the biggest public marina on the West Coast.

It has 2,300 slips, boasts the largest boat launch in the state and welcomes nearly 10,000 guest boaters a year.

The marina also has a marketplace, restaurants, pub, microbrewery and a seasonal farmers market. Summer concerts, featuring some of the region’s best bands, are held near the dock on Thursdays and Saturdays June through August.

5. Lights of Christmas

Warm Beach becomes the most jolly of all around Christmas.

The Lights of Christmas, the region’s largest holiday light display, features more than 1 million lights strung across 15 acres.

The month-long festival returns Nov. 29 to Warm Beach Camp, where you’ll find strolling carolers, kids activities and live music.

The event drew more than 78,000 visitors in 2017 — a staggering number, when you compare it to nearby Stanwood’s population of 7,000.

5. Centennial Trail

The Centennial Trail is the crown jewel of Snohomish County’s trail network.

The 30-mile trail replaces the path of railroad tracks built in the 1800s and extends through Arlington, Lake Stevens, Getchell, Machias and Snohomish.

It sees upwards of 500,000 runners, bicyclists, walkers and horseback riders each year.

4. Mukilteo lighthouse

Mukilteo’s lighthouse, built in 1906 and listed on the National Register of Historic Sites, is arguably the most iconic landmark in Snohomish County.

The rotating Fresnel lens, one year older than the Washington Territory, is part of the lighthouse’s allure, which draws visitors from all over the world. The light is visible from 10 miles away.

Volunteers with the Mukilteo Historical Society offer tours of the lighthouse from April through September. The grounds are accessible year-round.

3. Marysville Strawberry Festival

The Marysville Strawberry Festival is not only beloved by its residents, it has long been a draw for out-of-towners.

More than 100,000 people attended the 87th annual festival in June. The 10-day event includes shortcake eating contests, just-picked berries from nearby fields and a grand parade.

2. Paine Field

The past, present and future of aviation meet at Paine Field, Snohomish County’s airport.

Paine Field is home to several aviation attractions and tourism hot spots: the Future of Flight Aviation Center and Boeing Tour, Flying Heritage and Combat Armor Museum, Museum of Flight Restoration Center and the Historic Flight Foundation.

These museums feature aviation exhibits, military vehicles from past wars and a glimpse into the future of aerospace technology.

All together, the attractions draw nearly 600,000 people per year, including international visitors.

1. Evergreen State Fair

Snohomish County is home to the largest county fair in the region.

The Evergreen State Fair, held August through Labor Day at the Evergreen State Fairgrounds in Monroe, draws more than 350,000 visitors.

The fairgrounds are also home to the Evergreen Speedway — the only NASCAR arena in Washington — that hosts and year-round events.

Evan Thompson: 360-544-2999, ethompson@heraldnet.com. Twitter: @evanthompson_1.

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