Friday, November 19, 2010

La Conner Washington: One of Washington's Most Popular Tourist Towns

I can remember way back in the last century when La Conner, in the Skagit Valley, was a rundown, impoverished fishing village, with a rickety wooden bridge that crossed the Swinomish Channel to the Swinomish Indian Reservation on the west side of the channel.

I don't know what it was that sparked La Conner turning into a booming tourist town.  I know the change occurred some time after Leavenworth resuscitated itself from a dying logging town to one of the most successful tourist theme towns in America.

Maybe the changes to La Conner started when the old rickety bridge across the Swinomish Channel was replaced by what is now the iconic La Conner Rainbow Bridge.

La Conner is named after Louisa Ann Conner. You can figure out where the La comes from. LA's husband, J.S. Conner, bought the new settlement's trading post. At the time the town was called Swinomish, after the local Indian Tribe. The Conners moved to what became La Conner back in the 1870s.

The 2010 version of La Conner has a population of 761, at last count. This population soars, daily, due to all the tourists, and swells hugely during the Skagit Valley Tulip Festival.

La Conner is on the National Register of Historic Places.

The Swinomish Tribe has also prospered, along with La Conner. You can visit the reservation by crossing the Rainbow Bridge. The Swinomish are a very friendly tribe.

At the north end of the Swinomish Channel, where the channel empties in to Padilla Bay, you will find the Swinomish Casino. At the Casino the Swinomish also operate the Northern Lights RV Park. In the casino you will find the best seafood buffet I've ever had the pleasure of enjoying.

La Conner has a reputation as an artist's colony. In the YouTube video below you will get a look at La Conner, hear from some of the locals, and hear mention made of some of the resident artists. But, no mention is made of author, Tom Robbins, he of multiple book fame. One of Robbins' more popular books, Another Roadside Attraction, sets some of the tale in the La Conner environs.

The Swinomish Channel sees a lot of boating action. There are multiple places to dock your boat along the town waterfront, giving you easy access to the La Conner galleries, shops, restaurants, coffee shops and brew pubs.

You can also arrive in La Conner via seaplane, landing gently on the Swinomish Channel. That is the Rainbow Bridge you see in the distance through the spinning propellers, as the plane lands.

Watch the YouTube video below to get a bird's eye view of the Swinomish Channel, the Skagit Flats, the Cascade Mountain foothills and La Conner...

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