Mount Vernon is not only Skagit County’s largest city, it’s a gateway to many of the experiences that make the Northwest such a special place.
The Skagit River, teeming with salmon, runs through the heart of this eclectic town that embraces its farmland as strongly as its quaint downtown streets and rambling neighborhoods, both old and new.
In summers when the salmon run is big, those strolling along the river revetment can see the Skagit’s banks dotted with anglers.
Sitting in a valley below the Cascade Mountains, Mount Vernon itself has much to offer.
The Skagit Wine Festival will feature two dozen Washington wineries, food from Skagit County restaurants and locally made cheese and chocolate samplings on Nov. 17 at the
Best Western CottonTree Inn.
Come in the spring to see the breathtakingly colorful fields of daffodils, tulips and irises. Most of the events for the world-famous annual Skagit Valley Tulip Festival take place in Mount Vernon during the entire month of April.
Summer is festival time, with the Skagit Valley Highland Games and Celtic Festival at Edgewater Park, the Skagit River Shakespeare Festival in mid-summer, and the Skagit County Fair each August at the county fairgrounds. The summer weather is almost always just right, and a farmers market featuring Skagit Valley produce and handmade wares is offered every Saturday downtown right next to the river.
In October, the annual Skagit Valley Festival of Family Farms tour offers guests an inside look at the area’s rural side of life.
A trip to Little Mountain Park should be on most visitors’ lists. At 517 acres, it is the city’s largest and most impressive park. A 1.5-mile paved road leads to the top of the hill, ending at an elevation of 934 feet. From there, two covered viewpoints provide onlookers with a spectacular view of the Skagit Valley, the San Juan Islands, Olympic Mountains and the county’s seasonal tulip fields. The park also provides numerous mountain biking and hiking trails.
Any time of year, stroll along the streets of downtown to sample the diverse selection of locally owned restaurants and shops from antiques to boutiques. One special feature is the historic Lincoln Theatre, built in 1926 to showcase vaudeville performers and silent movies.
For those heading north or south to experience more of the Northwest, Mount Vernon is a stop for the Amtrak Cascades passenger train. The Skagit Station was built in 2004 and also offers stops for Skagit Transit and Greyhound buses.
Mount Vernon recently celebrated its 120th birthday. Its founders arrived in the 1870s and started homesteading the town just above a three-mile-long log jam so firmly placed that trees were growing on top.
A handful of farmers started pulling those logs out by hand with crosscut saws and horses until there was a gap big enough for a small boat to get through. It took two years of clearing before the first steamer, the Wenat, was able to make it past and into Mount Vernon in 1878.
It took many more years of clearing to remove the jam.
Mount Vernon incorporated in 1890, the year after Washington gained statehood. Named after George Washington’s home in Virginia, Mount Vernon’s population was 443 at the time.
Today, the city is home to more than 31,000 people.
Drive up to Little Mountain Park. A 1.5-mile paved road leads to the top of the hill where covered viewpoints provide onlookers with a spectacular view of the Skagit Valley, the San Juan Islands, Olympic Mountains and the county’s seasonal tulip fields.
Stroll the pedestrian-friendly downtown and check out the diverse shops and restaurants – and make sure to stop by the Lincoln Theatre, built in 1926 to showcase vaudeville performers and silent movies.
Go on a downtown pub crawl and enjoy a wide selection of locally made beer and seasonal fare.