Edmonds Washington is more than a city. It’s a suburban buffer that separates the high-paced big-city bustle of Seattle from the laid-back maritime serenity of Puget Sound. Its unique location between both infuses its soul with hints of both areas’ ambiance, giving it a character that very few cities in the region can replicate, regardless of the size. For those that want to experience the Pacific Northwest at its fullest, there may not be a better city to stay.
A Brief Look at Edmonds
Like a lot of Pacific Northwest coastal towns, Edmonds’ history has its roots to the logging industry. The city’s future site was “discovered” when its founder’s canoe beached the area while he looked for timber. The city received its name in 1884.
Unfortunately, Edmonds never really became the logging powerhouse that its founders envisioned. Economic woes and major fires conspired to force the city to change its focus by the 1920s. Fast forward nearly 100 years later, and it’s quite clear its shift into a coastal Seattle suburb suits this city of about 40,000 quite well.
Over the years, Edmonds’ maritime location and chill vibe have steadily allowed it to be a place of escape for Seattle residents looking for a break from the big city. The fact that the city lies a mere 15 miles north of the booming metropolis makes it a very convenient sanctuary.
Edmonds’ Position as a Gateway
Edmonds is a terrific centralized hub for visitors that come to the area to do more than visit Seattle. In addition to being a quick drive down I-5 to Seattle, its ferry route across Puget Sound also makes the city the gateway to Olympic National Park, the near-million-acre natural space that’s home to mountains, rain forests, and abundant natural wildlife. Driving a few miles up the road also grants you ferry access to Whidbey Island, a rugged, sprawling island known for its hilltop views and historic parks.
Of course, Edmonds itself acts as a thrilling gateway to Puget Sound, the country’s second-largest estuary. It takes full advantage of this by providing visitors and residents alike with a front row seat to numerous eco-friendly and maritime experiences the sound has to offer.
Things to Do: Edmonds Washington
Not surprisingly, a lot of Edmonds’ activities revolve around the water, although its biggest source of maritime bustle happens partially on land. The Port of Edmonds Marina is a perpetually buzzing landscape anchored by several walking trails, waterfront eateries, seasonal festivals, and the occasional jazz performance. The marina also provides a launch spot for whale-watching vessels.
The city also offers plenty of opportunities to have an even more intimate experience with Puget Sound’s waters. The marine sanctuary Brackett’s Landing is the launching point for the Edmonds Underwater Park, a watery landscape marked by several submerged trails specifically designed for the scuba-diving set. Those that wish to stay above ground can visit the 22.5-acre Edmonds Marsh and spot some of the approximately 90 species of birds that hang out during the year.
A host of parks also dot the city’s waterfront, from dog parks to tide pool areas. Some of the more ecologically-focused parks feature tour guides from park rangers and naturalists, thus providing an intriguing educational layer to the beautiful surroundings. The city’s eponymous fishing pier is also a popular spot for anglers as well as people looking for a place to catch a gorgeous sunset.
If you head inland from the marina, you’ll have the chance to explore Edmonds historic downtown area, a vibrant section of town brimming with a host of boutique shops, restaurants, and art galleries. This slice of the city also hosts an abundance of events throughout the year.
Edmonds also offers a wide array of Segway tours throughout the city. These tours are set up to enable easy exploration of the city’s history, the various art murals scattered about town, and more.
Edmonds and the Arts
Edmonds also offers guests the opportunity to engage in various fine arts activities. The epicenter for these experiences is the Edmonds Center for the Arts. This cozy 704-seat auditorium hosts performances by the city’s own Cascade Symphony Orchestra throughout the year, along with special movie screenings, lectures, and dance performances.
The city’s thriving art scene touches every corner of the city. The Cascadia Art Museum focuses its collection exclusively on Northwest regional art from the late 19th century to the 1960s. Several independent art galleries are found in the downtown area, and they offer a wide range of artistic expression to enjoy. Additionally, vibrant murals decorate a host of buildings and walls throughout the city.
Edmonds’ festival and event offerings also put a special emphasis on arts and culture. Free jazz concerts are held at the Port of Edmonds every Wednesday night and Sunday afternoon. During the summer months, Edmonds City Park welcomes local musicians to play a wide range of musical styles, from jazz to bluegrass.
Restaurants in Edmonds Washington
Edmonds’ waterfront is more than a great place to observe maritime Washington. It’s also a vibrant home for many of the city’s restaurants and bars. Several eateries on the Port of Edmonds Marina feature stunning views of Puget Sound, and the seafaring traffic gliding through its waters provides a unique take on the concept of “dinner and a show.”
Because of the city’s location, you can expect to encounter a wide choice of dining options focused on seafood. There are also plenty of international dining options within the city, something that may stem from nearby Seattle’s cosmopolitan influence. There is also a great deal of family-friendly and comfort food options to explore if you have the urge to dig into something a little more straightforward.
The Pacific Northwest’s burgeoning craft beer scene is also something that can readily be enjoyed in Edmonds. Several of the city’s restaurants and bars feature taps devoted to local brews, something that beer aficionados will appreciate greatly.
Where to Stay in Edmonds
The hotels near Edmonds Washington are primarily budget properties with a few bed and breakfasts scattered about town. Most of the hotels are located inland, although there are a couple of properties near the waterfront should you want to be near Washington’s network of inlets.
The hotels offer the basic array of amenities, and a few of them offer advanced perks. Because Edmonds is only 15 miles away from Seattle, they also provide guests to that city a cost-effective place to stay that’s also relatively convenient.
What to Know Before You Go
Edmonds is in the Pacific Northwest, so rain comes with the territory. Like the rest of the northwestern portion of the state, the weather in Edmonds Washington features cloudy days, rain, and slight snow. However, there isn’t as much rain here as you may expect. The city’s annual rainfall is 38 inches a year – one inch less than the national average.
The city’s mild temperatures make it a pleasant place to visit throughout the year. However, winters can get colder than you may anticipate – cold enough to get occasional snow flurries. With that being said, it is somewhat rare to see the temperatures drop below freezing.
Edmonds Washington also makes a fantastic home base if you’re planning to explore Seattle. A quick trip down Interstate 5 gets you to the heart of The Emerald City and its abundant activities. The city is loaded with several iconic stops worth making the drive for, such as the Space Needle and Pike’s Market.
If these world-famous points of interest entice you to spend some of your time in Seattle, be sure to explore a few of the city’s other essential stops. The city’s massive bridge troll sculpture is an iconic piece of public art – not to mention a popular place for family photos. Next to the Space Needle is the Chihuly Garden and Glass Museum, an indoor/outdoor facility featuring sculptures and massive exhibits of undulating blown glass pieces that collectively create near-alien landscapes.
One word of warning: summers in Seattle are like catnip for tourists, as July and August offer the best chance to enjoy sunny days in the region. As such, Edmonds and their host of activities can easily act as a welcome retreat from the crush of seasonal big city tourism. A stroll along Puget Sound on the Edmonds Washington waterfront may soothe your soul rather succinctly.
Edmonds is a Seattle suburb, but it’s so much more. Its devoted to the arts, sparkling waterfront, and historic downtown provide ample activity to keep you busy. At the same time, its relaxed suburban vibe gives visitors a welcome means to decompress in a fashion that a larger city can’t match.
Overall, Edmonds delivers a glimpse into the real coastal Pacific Northwest, one unfettered by big-city bustle and the swell of massive crowds. This creates a uniquely chill vibe that connects with the tranquil scene organically created by Puget Sound and nearby Olympic National Park. It’s a vibe that singlehandedly makes a visit to Edmonds worth your while.