Waterfront communities to the north — now dubbed Seattle NorthCountry — are only minutes away but can feel like another world altogether. Start your tour in the picturesque town of Edmonds, full of seaside charm and arts-centric shopping. Try adventurous activities (highlining, rock-climbing), then spend the night seaside or at one of our area’s largest casinos. Wrap up your adventure in Everett, home to both one world-renowned attraction and retro activities.

Nestled on Puget Sound, the unique appeal of Edmonds stems from public art and murals, awning-covered independent shops, historic plaza hangouts, and covered, sidewalk-style outdoor dining. Print a guide to help you identify public and neighborhood art in the wild. Stroll past the town fountain and bustling streets, where shop offerings include gems from The Wishing Stone, locally made jewelry and goods from Crow, and green gifts from Garden Gear & Gallery.

Pick up high-quality artist supplies (and free demos) at Art Spot, which is hosting an Inktober drawing challenge. Need inspiration? The Cascadia Art Museum displays contemporary exhibits including Northwest Abstract Art (through Oct. 10) and Kenjiro Nomura’s modern work (starting Oct. 21).

While in town, pick up brunch or lunch — dive into bananas foster French toast at Bistro 76, ham brisket hash at Blackbird, or just simple doughnuts or pastries at Walnut Street Coffee. Many downtown restaurants set up outdoor covered (and heated) dining areas and patios. Plentiful outdoor seating is served alongside new twists on seafood favorites at The Market, cocktails and seasonal dishes at Kelnero and French cuisine or eclectic brunch at Salt & Iron.

From downtown, stroll down to the Edmonds ferry terminal and Puget Sound Express’s half-day whale-watching tours. Nearby Brackett’s Landing is designated a marine sanctuary, as are all of Edmonds’s public waterfront parks. The marine sanctuary’s paths and picnic areas present lovely views of the Olympic Mountains and Kingston-bound ferries.

A diver takes underwater camera gear into the underwater park at Brackett’s Landing in Edmonds. (Getty Images)

Brackett’s Landing is also home to a 27-acre “underwater park” developed for divers and featuring artificial reef structures and decaying, sunken vessels. Even if you don’t dive, watching the divers come up can be entertaining. On low-tide days, search tide pools for sea stars and anemones.

Edmonds’s waterfront parks are hot spots for bird-watching. Hundreds of species either pass through or live here — Edmonds hosts the Puget Sound Bird Fest every September and is the first stop on Audubon’s Cascade Loop of the Great Washington State Birding Trail. Bring binoculars and the Birds of Edmonds Checklist to spy great blue herons from the Edmonds Marsh’s boardwalk and viewing platform.

Just a bit further north, adventurous adults and teens get active with a climbing day pass to Vertical World North, karts at Traxx Indoor Raceway, and the ropes course at High Trek Adventures. Touted as Seattle’s largest ropes course, High Trek offers a serious array of activities, including ax throwing, outdoor laser tag, mini-golf, and by-the-hour zip lines and ropes courses.

Those who’d rather keep their feet on the ground can visit the Boeing Future of Flight, highlighting Boeing’s projects and innovations. After wrapping up active excursions, venture further west to Mukilteo. The 1906 Mukilteo Lighthouse‘s weekend hours feature local history exhibits, plus a Fresnel lens built in France in 1852, and looks out on the ferry to Clinton, on Whidbey Island.     

Hotel Indigo Seattle Everett Waterfront. (Port of Everett)

Affordable chain hotels line I-5. But to feel like you’re getting away, secure a room or vacation rental with water views. From Silver Cloud Inn Mukilteo Waterfront, staycationers can enjoy Whidbey Island and ferries on Possession Sound. Hotel Indigo Seattle Everett Waterfront is one of Everett’s newest properties, after opening in August 2019. The sleek building’s most desirable rooms look out on Everett’s Port Gardener Bay. Marina-view rooms are also available at Everett’s Inn at Port Gardener.

An adult getaway can be found at the massive, 10-story Tulalip Resort Casino, for table and slot gaming, Coast Salish goods shopping, and plentiful free on-site entertainment (think: football game broadcasts and tribute bands). The resort contains upscale rooms, a spa, and a tropical-style indoor pool. The nearby Hilbulb Cultural Center provides a remarkable depth of Tulalip tribal history and culture in a compact space; exhibits include local boarding school experiences, language, and stunning examples of traditional uses of cedar in everyday life.

The Everett-Edmonds region is rich in diverse dining options, most within driving distance no matter where you stay. Tuck into Hatch chile enchiladas at The New Mexicans, barbecue ribs at Grandmas in Da Kitchen, Jamaican pumpkin soup at Maize and Barley, build-your-own-ramen at Botan Ramen n Bar.

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Tijuana-style tacos and consommé can be found at Birrieria Tijuana, signature cocktails and Pacific Northwest-inspired menu at Bluewater Organic Distilling’s Bar + Bistro, Chef Jimmy Liang’s handmade pasta at Capers+Olives, and Korean desserts at Milkie Milkie.

For your second day, Everett provides plenty of great nostalgia-rich, old-fashioned fun. Slide into Everett Skate Deck for four-wheeled and Rollerblade skating, Everett Community Ice Rink for ice skating, or hit the lanes at Evergreen Bowling. Everett’s arenas are alternatives to big-city traffic-and-parking challenges but also host larger events. Angel of the Winds Arena hosts WNBA playoffs and Kraken exhibition games, along with Everett Silvertips junior hockey games.

Funko (Visiteverett.com)

It’s hard to miss the towering Disney and Pixar figures outside Funko Headquarters Retail Store, which attracts visitors from around the world. Enter the enormous storefront in downtown Everett for the larger-than-life, selfie-ready displays of Harry Potter, Marvel, DC Comics, and Disney characters. Unique figurines, plushies and bobbleheads on the shelves are inspired by popular movies and TV shows such as Parks and Rec, Stranger Things, Seinfeld, and more. One caveat: release days may involve very long lineups that start as early as 5 a.m., so avoid those days if possible.

Grand Avenue Bridge (Visiteverett.com)

Wrap up your day with beautiful views. In 2020, the 210-foot-long, pedestrian Grand Avenue Bridge connected Grand Avenue Park and the Port of Everett waterfront; now, you can stroll the bridge to gaze onto the Olympics and the bustling Everett waterways.

Note: Stay up-to-date regarding retailer or Snohomish County requirements regarding masks and vaccinations. Make reservations in advance and ask if vaccinations are required for dining or activities.

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