This historic town edging Swinomish Channel is a good base for exploring the rich and scenic farmland of the Skagit Valley, an hour north of Seattle.

This historic town edging Swinomish Channel is a good base for exploring the rich and scenic farmland of the Skagit Valley, an hour north of Seattle.

La Conner is a compact town with galleries and interesting shops, ranging from The Wood Merchant’s locally made wooden furniture to a shop selling 140 varieties of olives. Home today to luminaries such as author Tom Robbins, the town in the past was an enclave of famed “Northwest School” artists from Mark Tobey to Guy Anderson, whose legacy is celebrated in La Conner’s Museum of Northwest Art (www.museumofnwart.org).

Also here is the La Conner Quilt & Textile Museum, in the beautiful old Gaches Mansion (www.laconnerquilts.com), the Skagit County Historical Museum and views of the Rainbow Bridge, Mount Baker and the North Cascades.

A recent addition: the first phase of a new waterfront boardwalk edging downtown shops, offering an up-close view of the salty channel edged by fishing boats, log rafts and classic sailboats, as well as a summertime procession of yachts on their way to and from the nearby San Juan Islands.

Getting there: From Interstate 5 about 60 minutes north of Seattle, take Exit 221, go west through the town of Conway and follow signs toward La Conner.

Information: La Conner Chamber of Commerce, 888-642-9284 or www.lovelaconner.com

Brian J. Cantwell: 206-748-5724 or bcantwell@seattletimes.com