Photo Credit: Ian Gleadle
The City of Stanwood is a step back in time. This small town just an hour north of Seattle is still firmly rooted in its Scandinavian and farming history. Stanwood bridges the gap between beautiful pastoral farmlands and Camano Island’s beaches. Blessed with a diversity of dining, vintage and boutique shops, Stanwood is a destination on its own.
Packaging local history with bedding accommodations is the historic Stanwood Hotel & Saloon. Built in the late 1890s, it has housed loggers, mill workers, hunters and tourists. The structure of the building has been preserved despite changes in ownership and renovations. Charming hallways lined with antiques, artwork and cozy period furnishings take you back in time. Recently, the hotel renovated the rooms to include period décor and modern bathrooms, televisions and WiFi. Located three minutes off Interstate 5, Angel of The Winds Casino Resort features 125 beautiful and luxurious hotel rooms. Relax in your room after a fun-filled day of entertainment inside the casino. Kayak Point County Park offers a unique three-bedroom, Craftsman-style vacation house situated on a hill overlooking Puget Sound. Explore the wonders of the beach, take a hike and enjoy the comforts of home, including Mission-style furnishings, pellet stove, flat panel TV and DVD player. The kitchen is fully stocked with appliances and cooking utensils. Main floor sleeps two on the queen-size sleeper-sofa and two on the master bedroom queen (linens provided for queen beds). Kids will love the rustic, knotty-pine paneled upstairs with three twin-sized beds built right into the wall! Outside you’ll enjoy a covered porch, two picnic tables and a fire pit with a grill. RV hookups are available, and the Yurt Village is right next door – should extra guests arrive. Reservations: 425-388-6600 or snocoparks.org.
Whether you stay the night or visit for the day, Stanwood’s parks and outdoor activities are plentiful.
At Church Creek Park, one of the two city parks in Stanwood proper, visitors can enjoy the 16.5-acre park with tall trees, a disc golf course, baseball field, basketball court, playground area, rolling grounds and picnic facilities. Heritage Park, includes a playground area, three baseball/ softball fields, three soccer/lacrosse fields and four miles of walking/biking trails on the 62.5-acre park. Also within Heritage is the Stanwood Vito Z Memorial Skate Park with modular-style steel ramps. The skate park provides a mix of grades and materials for skateboard enthusiasts to cruise on.
Keep it simple by embarking on a tour of Stanwood on the Lindstrom Walking Path, a 1.4-mile loop that circles the city’s eastern businesses. The Freeborn Lutheran Church hosts the beautiful Bonhoeffer Botanical Gardens, a 20-acre garden containing all of Western Washington’s indigenous trees, shrubs, vines and more, along with three types of wetlands. Walk through the groomed trails and absorb the wetland beauty while reading the interpretive kiosks which explore a variety of interesting topics. In spring, take in the cheerful beauty of more than 400,000 narcissus bulbs in bloom on Daffodil Hill, also tended by the church.
Kayak Point County Park includes walking trails, a saltwater beach, and a 300- foot pier.
Pilchuck Glass School was founded in 1971 on a serene sixty acres, surrounded by the Pilchuck Tree Farm. (Pilchuck is on the east side of I-5 between Stanwood and Mount Vernon off Exit 215.) The school was founded by legendary glass artist Dale Chihuly and patrons. Each year beginning in April, Pilchuck offers over 35 intensive residential sessions. The school opens the campus to public tours and demonstrations twice per year. (Check their website for dates—www.pilchuck. org—where you can also pre-register for tours.)
Pilchuck Tree Farm is a great year-round hiking destination. Open to hikers and equestrian, this is a working tree farm so be sure to observe the signs and read the guidelines posted at trailheads. Sign a release form (http://www.pilchuckra.org/) and get moving. These trails open up to some of the best hilltop views of Port Susan.
Port Susan Bay Preserve located on farmland just south of town holds some of the finest estuarine habitat in Puget Sound. Its marshes, vast mudflats and tidally influenced channels support hundreds of thousands of birds, several species of salmon smelt, English sole and clams. The preserve is also home to the western sandpipers, dunlins and dowitchers. Wrangel Island snow geese gather by the thousands in tidal marshes and on nearby farm fields. Hundreds of raptors, from peregrine falcons to short-eared owls, add to the drama.
For a group-led tour of the preserve, please contact Pat Hampton firstname.lastname@example.org (360-419-3140) Monday–Thursday at least one week in advance to make your reservation
In Stanwood, there is a robust list of culinary options and destinations suited to almost every visitor. The diversity of dining options in the town’s two historic districts is amazing.
Starting in downtown Stanwood’s historic East End, just off the Pioneer Highway, businesses dot downtown’s 271st Street. The Picnic Pantry brings the “experience” back to kitchen and home gift shopping with a wine and cheese bar featuring wines from around the world and delectable local meats and cheeses. The ambiance and wide selection make The Picnic Pantry a perfect location for a girls night out or special date night! Polska Kuchnia is the real deal for Polish food. Owned and operated by husband and wife duo Sara and Wojtek Lisicki, their pierogies are a popular treat. All from scratch recipes include sausages and soups served with imported beer from Poland and wine from Bulgaria. If you believe that you only live once, dessert should come first at Stanwood Cupcakes. Pair your cupcake with hand-dipped Cascade Glacier ice cream or Fidalgo coffee.
Drop in at Wayne’s Corner Café, a sandwich shop and burger stop with a long line of local breakfast favorites and patties between buns. Choose from more than a dozen different omelets, along with other eggy creations and morning staples like the house-made cinnamon roll. For lunch, hardly breach the $10 mark by ordering from a roster of burgers with toppings from teriyaki to bacon and cheese. Grab a pint (or two) and some pan-fried oysters at the Conway Boxcar where you will find a jukebox, arcade games, and live sporting events projected onto four big screen TVs. Next door at the Stanwood Grill, guests can slide into big booths and order from the chalkboard specials menu of creative cuisine from seafood to “landfood” and a full-service bar. Jasmine Thai Cuisine and Sushi serves up some tasty bowls of curry and fresh garden wraps. The newest burger joint in town, Mammoth Burger serves up a variety of food, and specializes in juicy, delicious burgers. Be sure to leave room for dessert and try their irresistible deep fried Oreos.
Heading into West Stanwood, the Duck In Café is where checkered-tile floors, a farmland mural by artist Jack Gunter and walk-up counter welcome guests inside to indulge on signature dishes such as fluffy homemade biscuits and the Mark Brown Hashbrowns. Right around the corner is Stanwood Thai, where you can enjoy authentic Thai cuisine. Connect with your inner pizza connoisseur at MOD Pizza where individual pizzas designed to your specifications are created in minutes.
Need some groceries for your cabin stay? Shop in a newly renovated and expansive QFC grocery store or cross the street to the brand new Grocery Outlet or over on east end of town at Haggen. An easily accessible drive-thru Starbucks is next to Sweet Bliss Frozen Yogurt for a “weigh and pay” style of DIY yogurt desserts.
Once in Old Town, The Chatter Box Restaurant serves up Asian-fusion dishes from Malaysia, Thailand and India from within their comfortable Craftsman house. A few doors down is Jimmy’s Pizza and Pasta, a mainstay for locals and tourists alike for pizza/salad combos. Try the Spartan (a thick-crust pie with sliced mushrooms and crumbled Italian sausage) and the classic but rich Caesar salad. Taqueria Mi Cocina is nearby along with the Spartan Drive-in for your chili cheese dog and burger options. Just across Highway 532 is Dos Reales Taqueria for classic carne asada, chile relleno and fajitas, as well as a full bar. The Cookie Mill and Bakery is a one-stop shop for coffee, pastries, baked goods and more.
Travel back in time for dinner and a drink at The Stanwood Hotel and Saloon, which boasts its original hardwood floors from the 1890s, along with vintage newspapers and memorabilia framed on the walls. Housed in Stanwood’s Historic Volunteer Fire Station – Stanwood Artisan Ale and Lager, SAAL Brewing Company will open doors this fall. A community focused brewery, SAAL brings a world class beverage experience to the Stanwood-Camano area with a rotating variety of craft sodas, hard ciders, Washington wines and locally roasted coffee. Family friendly and offering a variety of dishes for omnivores and herbivores to enjoy, this is a must stop in your travels. Nearby, the town’s newest restaurant, Crow Island Farms, is getting rave reviews for its farm to table dinners made from scratch. Shima Japanese Restaurant serves up the finest sushi in town. Alright—it’s the finest you’ll find for 120 miles. (Yes. It’s Polish and Thai food on one end of town and Japanese on the other in Stanwood. Aren’t you glad you came?) On the eastern side of town is Stanwood Pavilion, home to Stanwood Cinemas, Amigo Family Mexican Restaurant, and Dragon Palace, for those who prefer food with an Asian flair.
Stanwood’s East End is in the King Building, a family-owned landmark since 1921. Inside are a variety of retailers such as Laurie’s, a women’s clothing boutique, Starlight Vintage Emporium, specialist of antiques and vintage clothing, and Island Floral, for all of your special occasions. East Stanwood offers shops for the antiquers and boutiquers, among them, Doilies 2 Doorknobs and Ladders Clothing Company.
Heading west is Brick Road Antiques (formerly Old Town Antiques), a quaint shop which has a sizable selection of antiques, from home décor and furnishings to books, jewelry and vinyl records. Looking for the perfect gift or something special for yourself? West Stanwood is home to Cedar & Pine, Purple Sunset Boutique and Urban Trends, unique shops with apparel and creative home decor. Island Girl Creative Studio features art classes when you are ready to tap into your creative spirit.