Park the car and walk across the orange Rainbow Bridge that connects La Conner to the Swinomish Indian Tribal Community for a picturesque view of the historic town, which sits on a channel near the mouth of the Skagit River.
The bridge itself is an often-photographed icon – orange because when it was built in 1957 residents decided to skip the formal gray paint that would normally cover the brightly colored rust undercoating.
Maybe those residents’ eye for color helped make La Conner what is considered by many to be the cultural and art center of Skagit County.
The town of close to 1,000 people is home to many visual and literary artists, including novelist Tom Robbins (“Even Cowgirls Get the Blues,” “B is For Beer”).
Honors for La Conner
In recent years the town has been awarded:
- Best Small Town in Washington
- Town That Captures the NW Spirit
- Best Romantic Getaway
- Most Exciting Small Town
- Best Tiny Town
- Best Neighborhood Town in Skagit County
Not far from the town’s waterfront is the Museum of Northwest Art, at 121 First St., which strives to collect, preserve, and interpret the art of the Northwest. Its growing collection includes over 2,500 contemporary art objects from the early 1900s to the present day.
Noted artists include Mark Tobey, Guy Anderson, Morris Graves, Kenneth Callahan, George Tsutakawa, Richard Gilkey, Clayton James, Philip McCracken and Dale Chihuly.
Another popular destination is the La Conner Quilt & Textile Museum, 703 S. Second St., which features a rotating exhibit of handmade quilts, displayed in the historic Gaches Mansion.
Art-focused town events include an Outdoor Sculpture Exhibition in the spring, a Quilt Walk in the fall, the Art’s Alive! festival in November and a biennial Skagit River Poetry Festival in May.
La Conner is a small town, and it’s the kind of place where people walk the streets and enjoy several blocks of antique stores, boutiques, gift shops and restaurants.
Surrounded by fertile farmland, La Conner is just a little isolated from other towns in Skagit County. Those fertile acres on the delta were once largely planted with oats. But the fields today that separate La Conner from Mount Vernon are best known for the colorful daffodils and tulips that draw thousands of visitors during the month-long Skagit Valley Tulip Festival each April.
History is also important here and La Conner is known as Skagit County’s first community. Founded in the 1860s and incorporated in 1890, the town is home to the Skagit County Historical Museum, 501 S. Fourth St.
While you’re here
Visting three outstanding museums, all within walking distance: Skagit County
Historical Museum, La Conner Quilt & Textile Museum, and the Museum of Northwest Art.
Walk across the Rainbow Bridge. Watch the pleasure and working boats pass below.
Experience the self-guided Walking Tour of La Conner’s Sculpture Exhibit, changing each year.
Check out the La Conner Swinomish Skateboard Park at the north end of 6th Street, near the La Conner School District properties.
Walk down to the water through the Fish Bridge at the end of Washington Street. Built by a local artist and purchased by the town due to its popularity.
Explore Magnus Anderson’s hand split-log cabin built in 1869, located by La Conner’s Town Hall on Second & Commercial Streets.
Admire the beautifully refurbished Sacred Heart Catholic Church built in 1899. The Swinomish Indians carried the bell to La Conner from Astoria, Ore., by foot and canoe.
Stop by the Volunteer Fireman Museum on First Street and see the once state-of-the-art fire truck built in 1850. Used for the great fire in San Francisco in 1906 before making its way to La Conner.