Monday, June 21, 2010

Washington Tourist Theme Towns: Lynden, Leavenworth, La Conner & Winthrop

Washington has several theme towns. I'm not sure that is the proper name for them. Towns with a theme. Maybe just calling them Tourist Towns suffices.

Leavenworth is definitely a town with a theme, with that them being a town in the Bavarian Alps, with the Cascade Mountains substituting for the Alps.

Winthrop is another town with a theme, with the Winthrop theme being an Old Western Town. Winthrop came to life when the North Cascades Highway opened a few decades ago. Prior to the highway being built, Winthrop was a very isolated location in Washington. Now it's a major tourist destination.

La Conner, in the Skagit Valley, was a very poor, rundown, sad little town, way back in the 1960s. I don't remember what sparked the change, but the change to La Conner is amazing. La Conner is now a classic tourist town, with galleries, good restaurants, brew pubs, marinas and a lot of visitors.

And then there is Lynden. Lynden is the reason I am from Washington. My Dutch ancestors came to America in the late 1800s. They kept trying to find a place to live that they liked. Further and further west they went. And then they heard of this place in the far northwest corner of America. My great-grandpa was sent, solo, to check it out. He spent a summer, and then returned to his sister, my great aunt Anna, and my great-great grandpa and grandma, Cornelis and Aagie, bringing with him apples, thick bark from a tree, tales of berries growing wild, lush farmland, tall trees and land that reminded him of Holland.

And so they moved to the Lynden area, along with a lot of other Dutch people.

Lynden retains its Dutch character, leading many to say a visit to Lynden is like a visit to Holland without needing a passport.

When you visit Lynden you can't help but notice that there seems to be a lot of churches. And the lawns are all immaculately kept. Lynden may be the most litter free town in America.

I am likely forgetting a Washington theme/tourist town or two. Of all of them, Leavenworth is my favorite.


Steve A said...

I've been through Lynden many times and never knew it was a tourist town! Actually, more precisely, I've been up and down Guide Meridian Road many times since the Lynden border crossing is usually much less stressful than the one at Blaine.

Durango Northwest said...

Steve A, next time you are heading towards the border on the Guide (that's what Lyndenites call it), take a right on Front Street and drive through downtown Lynden. When you turn on to Front Street you'll find a cemetery on both sides of the street. The north side is for Dutch only. That's where my relatives are buried, at the southwest corner. The south side cemetery is for the non-Dutch. I have some relatives there too. You'll find a lotta Dutch stuff in the downtown Lynden zone.