Greetings! Welcome to the largest county in Washington State, Okanogan County. Seriously, this county is ENORMOUS! In fact, I’d go as far to say it is ginormous – and filled with an equally large bevy of adventure-filled opportunities. I am absolutely blown away by the size and scale of the county every time I’m lucky … Read more I Ate the State – Okanogan County
Welcome back! It’s been far too long… I know we’re not running at full-capacity yet, in so many ways, but it feels like things are starting to look up again. Similar to spring flowers seeking the sun, I feel us starting to stretch our limbs, looking hopefully to the parting clouds. And to perhaps begin … Read more I Ate the State – Pacific County
Happy New Year from I Ate the State! I’m quite certain it’s going to be a good one – and chock full of Washington State adventure. To start the year off in coastal style, I’d like to share my recent adventures to the beautiful shores of Island County. Comprised primarily of Whidbey and Camano Islands […]
Greetings from my office/living/entertainment/multi-purpose room! I hope this installment finds you well and safe in whatever room of the house you’re currently exploring. I was just in the spare bedroom a little while ago – what an adventure! Don’t worry. I brought snacks… And wine.
One of the main reasons I began I Ate the State was to highlight areas of the state I hadn’t visited. I grew up in Washington and thought I knew my state, but when breaking it down by county, I realized just how many areas I’d not yet explored; how many Washington State adventures were still lying in wait. There is so much unique beauty and culinary genius to enjoy in this state, but I know even after visiting every county, there will still be new adventures to experience. I’m willing to do the work…
It’s spring in the neighborhood!
Delicate and lovely
Nature finds a way…
In the meantime, however, I’ve been enjoying the state from a slightly smaller perspective. I’ve really missed getting out and exploring on a grander scale, but switching focus to the microcosm of my Bothell neighborhood has definitely been rewarding. Granted, my walking excursions and take-out from local restaurants don’t always match the grandeur of a good day or weekend trip, but they’re not a bad compromise. And just like I thought I knew my state, I also thought I knew my neighborhood… Seems regardless of the scale, there’s always something to explore; always something surprising to enjoy.
Beauty can be found in the most unexpected places. It can pop out of cracks in the sidewalks, wander across the sky in the movement of lazy clouds or burst into view with the blossoms of spring. It’s in the joy of little bunnies popping out of nowhere, making tracks down the road and in the sound of the ice cream truck rolling through the neighborhood. (ICE CREAM TRUCK!!! RUUUUUNNN!!!) There’s something to be said for beauty being in the eye of the beholder. One can behold it anywhere and in any capacity – You just need to keep your eyes open to its many charms. I’m working daily on keeping mine open during this very… unique and challenging time.
My dear friend Emily painted this rock for me. I call him Poopie.
I think Poopie needs some friends!
Look down on your neighborhood strolls – you never know what you’ll find. Alpine Strawberries arriving soon! Mmmmm…
This guy is just one of the many bunnies hopping around the neighborhood, joining me on my adventures.
Beauty coming up through the cracks
When I’m not busy chasing down the ice cream truck, I’ve been hitting up some of my favorite neighborhood spots for take-out and more. (Seriously – Can anyone deny the siren call of the ice cream truck? Is anyone not immediately reduced to a crazed 5-year old??) Here’s a short list of the awesome spots in old town Bothell I’ve been enjoying over the years as well as during the past couple months:
A long-time favorite of Bothell residents is the Ranch Drive-in on Bothell Way NE, in the heart of old town Bothell. (Since 1959!) I’ve been a devotee since moving to the area several years ago and hope to be a patron for many years to come. The menu is filled with classic treats, but my favorites are the Ranch Burger with cheese and the CRINKLE FRIES with their homemade tartar sauce. (#CRINKLEFRIES4LIFE) I’m also quite fond of their grilled hotdogs and fish sandwiches. Mmmm… Their walk-up window is currently open daily. Check website for hours. I LOVE YOU, RANCH DRIVE-IN.
Grilled hot dog and CRINKLE FRIES w/Ranch Drive-in tartar. YES, PLEASE!
Social-distancing at the Ranch
The Hillcrest Bakery has been serving Bothell since 1934, with current family operation since 1965. It’s no wonder they’ve become such a mainstay in the community as their baked goods are I’ve ordered many cakes over the years and absolutely swear by their sausage rolls. (Phone in order and pick up around the back – Open until 6pm)
These sausage rolls are DELICIOUS. (I didn’t eat them all at once. I swear!)
A little spot of heaven…
I cut myself a little slice before dropping it off on Parke’s doorstep. (heh heh) Birthday parties, social-distancing style!
The classic Countryside Donut House off Main Street in old town Bothell has been enticing locals with their donuty goodness for many a year. I’m a big fan of their delectable maple bars and custard filled donuts. YUM!! Cash and check only. (Current hours: 5am – 3pm daily)
Yes, I believe I DO deserve a donut!! (I didn’t eat them all at once. I swear!)
Old school donut majesty!
Alexa’s Café on Main Street in old town Bothell is actually the last dining room I visited before the statewide lock-down. Sigh… While I await the reopening of the restaurant in full, I’ll be ordering their delicious Eggs Benny for take-away. Great for breakfast, lunch and dinner, Alexa’s features dishes made with local ingredients in their cozy dining room. (Current take-out for Breakfast/Lunch only – 8:30am – 2pm, Wed-Sun)
Revolve Food & Wine is somewhat new to the Main Street scene in old town Bothell, but they’ve been making a delicious case to become part of the area staples. They are currently open for take-out and delivery from 4-7pm and specialize in gluten, grain, preservative and refined sugar-free dishes featuring high-quality local ingredients. They also have an excellent wine selection, along with cocktails and beer available for take-away.
I have two very important words for you: Truffle Popcorn. Everything I’ve tried at The Bine has been consistently delicious, but that truffle popcorn… DREAMY. I would eat it every day… And as surprising as it is to me, I’d also say the same about their Brussels sprouts. The rest of the menu is excellent, but I’d also like to personally recommend the Pho’rench Dip and either the bacon or veggie grilled cheese sandwiches. (Get both!) Their awesome beer and wine selection is also available for take-away. (Open daily, Noon – 8pm)
The delicious Pho’rench Dip and Brussels Sprouts
The Bine, on lovely Main Street in old town Bothell.
Teriyaki Best has been my local go-to teriyaki spot for many years. It’s a tiny place off Main Street in old town Bothell, but very big on flavor. The dishes are always tasty, the portions satisfying and the service great. I love the salmon teriyaki and the Katsu chicken. (Open for take-out at 11am – 8:30pm during week, Noon – 8pm Saturday. Closed Sunday.)
I’m a frequenter of their conveyor-belt operation, but have recently been enjoying the take-out options at Sushi Zone on Main Street in old town Bothell. I’m addicted to the Bothell and UW rolls as well as many other tasty items. Sesame balls!! (Order online and pick-up. No delivery. Check online for hours.)
Located in old town Bothell on NE 183rd Street, The Cottage offers breakfast, brunch, lunch and dinner in a cozy atmosphere. (Outdoor seating, curbside pickup and free delivery currently available.) In addition to single portions, they’re also presently offering family-style brunch and dinners along with date-night specials, a great coffee menu and adult beverages. They regularly host live music and during the lock-down are featuring online performances via Facebook. (Currently open 8am – 8pm, Mon-Fri, 9am – 8pm, Saturday and 9am – 3pm on Sunday)
The BLT and pasta salad from The Cottage. A delicious lunch!
Check out The Cottage in old town Bothell.
I very much miss their original location (RIP Country Village), but I’m so happy Cranberry Cottage has found a new home in the old town Bothell area. It was dangerous enough when they were a 5-minute drive away, but now they’re a one-block walk DANGER! Chances are, if you’re a friend or family member, you’ve received a super-cool gift found over the years at Cranberry Cottage. And you probably will again!! (Currently open for limited curbside pick-up – order online.)
While I’m incredibly grateful for the excellent dining options within a few blocks of my home, I’m also working on keeping things interesting in my own kitchen. For the past two years, during spring, I’ve made treks down to beautiful Puerto Vallarta. I’ve been missing the sun and day-dreaming about the beach these past couple months, so I decided to try and recreate one of the dishes from my recent visit. The Shrimp and Avocado Tostadas Louie from Joe Jack’s Fish Shack are delicious and though I’m still fine-tuning the details, I’m pretty happy with my copycat results. YUM! I made some scratch hibiscus margaritas to go along with the tostadas and those, coupled with a sunny afternoon on the patio, were a much needed distraction from the office/living/entertainment/multi-purpose room setup.
Chili-dusted Jicama, Cucumber and radish
My attempt at the Shrimp & Avocado Tostadas Louie. I want one right now!
I’ve also been exploring recipes online and found a great one for Chicken Pot Pie Biscuits on the lovely In Diane’s Kitchen website. They were delicious and reheated nicely in the oven throughout the week. In addition, I’ve been pretty happy with my various curry experiments and will be trying out a pulled ham Instant Pot dish later this week. Just trying to keep things tasty and interesting in the ol’ Quarantine Kitchen… And when all else fails, I’ve always got tater tots to fall back on… #TATERTOTS4LIFE
A pretty tasty riced cauliflower and shrimp curry experiment…
I did it. I ATE THEM ALL. I also love their reflection in the wine glass. :-}
Smoked brats over sautéed onions and sauerkraut w/re-purposed German potato salad from The Bine.
Table for one?
The one, the only, the classic: TATER TOT CASSEROLE.
These Chicken Pot Pie Biscuits were DELICIOUS! (I didn’t eat them all at once. I swear!)
I have indeed been enjoying my neighborhood deep-dive, but am very much looking forward to the days of again branching out to the rest of the state. I love my neighborhood and it has a lot to offer, but it’s always fun to explore what other neighborhoods – and their neighbors – have to share. I’m also very much looking forward to exploring the state with friends and family. In the same vehicle. Less than 6-feet apart… But in the meantime, I’m happy to keep things safe and sound in my little corner of the world. I hope you are equally safe and sound – and staying sane – in your corner of the world as well.
Support your local businesses, support your neighbors – Eat the neighborhood! (But don’t eat your neighbors. That’s not right.)
I highly recommend this one for your next toast…
To help you enjoy your own explorations, I’ve curated a special list of happy, neighborhood strollin’ tunes. Check out the playlist on SPOTIFY. I guarantee these songs will make you smile!
Keep on Truckin’ – Eddie Kendricks (from Eddie Kendricks)
Won’t You Be My Neighbor – Mister Rogers (Fred Rogers) (from You Are Special)
Traveling Without Moving – Jamiroquai (from Traveling Without Moving)
Come and get Your Love – Redbone (from Wovoka)
Time to Move On – Tom Petty (from Wildflowers)
Mah Na Mah Na – Sesame Street (from A Sesame Street Celebration)
Lovely Day – Bill Withers (from Menagerie)
Getaway – Earth, Wind & Fire (from Spirit)
Gone At Last – Paul Simon w/Phoebe Snow & The Jessy Dixon Singers (from Still Crazy After All These Years)
As – Stevie Wonder (from Songs in the Key of Life)
Beautiful World – Colin Hay (from Going Somewhere)
The Rainbow Connection – The Muppets (from The Muppets Original Soundtrack)
Looking back over my lifetime in Washington State, there are many places I know I’ve taken for granted. I’ll initially contribute some of that to being young and without means – or transportation. Unfortunately, there was also a fair amount of time spent in Eastern Washington, for instance, where I really wish I’d given it more of a chance. The grass is literally greener on the western side of the state, but that doesn’t mean there are lesser prospects for finding beauty and adventure. Every time I go back to visit the “other” side of the state, I am constantly blown away by the full palette of opportunity. (A huge part of this travel project is not only to share the beauty of this state with others, but to ensure I never again take any part of it for granted.)
This oversight has never been the case where Snohomish County is concerned. I’ve now lived in Western Washington for quite a while and have spent several years straddling the border between King and Snohomish Counties. (Bothell represent!) I can say with total honesty I’ve never gotten bored with the area and have never been at a loss for something to see or do – or eat! One of my favorite, lazy-weekend activities is to jump in my car in search of random backroads and tasty treats. I am never disappointed with the hidden gems and unexpected opportunities that cross my path while wandering around Snohomish County.
I’m going to divide my Snohomish County adventures into two sections; the “mountain side” and the “sea side,” with Part I tackling the mountainous portion of the county. Both sections are spectacular and contain an amazing amount of adventure potential, with the overall county being very accessible from most parts of the state, at most times of the year. (The mountainous areas do pose a few more obstacles during the winter.) If you happen to live in the western part of the state as I do, Snohomish County is even more accessible. You very well might live in Snohomish County, considering it is the third most populous county in Washington State, behind King and Pierce Counties. (And 13th when ranked by size.) For extra coverage on Part I, I’ve consulted with a couple locals – AND brought along my long-time adventuring buddy (and WA State transplant) Beth, to help me explore some of the backroads. All the coverage, all the time – Snohomish County is BIG!
As it is one of Washington’s most populous counties, many people are familiar with the beauty within its boundaries. That might not seem apparent, however, once you make your way towards the mountains of Snohomish County. Just heading a few miles out of Bothell towards Monroe takes you away from the urban sprawl and into idyllic, rural farmlands and foothills – often without another soul in sight. It is completely possible within a few hours of exploration to experience the vibrant pulse of city life, serene suburban neighborhoods, gorgeous coastal shorelines, vital farmlands, sweeping forests and towering volcanic masterpieces. Snohomish County is like a ‘greatest hits’ tour of Washington state!
Since a large part ofBothell is in King County, I’ll be covering it later in the project. (I’m saving King County for the end, on account of it being quite a behemoth.) The area of Bothell heading towards Mill Creek is generally Snohomish County, so that’s where I’m starting. And since that portion of the county sits on the east side of two of its main south-north thoroughfares, I-5 and I-405, I’ll be heading off in the direction of the beautiful Cascade mountain range.
When heading to Mill Creek, I typically drive north on the Bothell-Everett Highway (SR-527), through the Bothell and Canyon Park areas. It’s a main route and can be a useful alternative to I-5 and I-405. Heading through these areas, you’ll be met with a corridor of commerce with many great options for shopping, dining and general day-to-day needs.
A few of my go-to spots along the way to Mill Creek:
If you’re looking for a great Bloody Mary with brunch or a tasty burger, the Crystal Creek Café in Bothell, just off I-405 is a good place to stop. In fact, you could pretty much just have the bloody Mary – it’s a meal in and of itself!
You’d never guess this unassuming sports bar on Bothell-Everett Highway would have a kick-ass, all-you-can-eat Dungeness crab feed on Monday nights, but they certainly do! Check out Thrasher’s Corner Sports Pub for all your sports bar – and Dungeness crab feed needs.
The Original Pancake House chain is always a great stop for traditional pancakes as well as their amazing Dutch-baby oven pancakes. I’m also particularly fond of their homemade corned beef hash. Mmmm… Located right off the Bothell-Everett Highway.
Local favorite Burgermaster, with their locally-raised, grass-fed and hormone-free beef, is one of my favorite places to get a quick burger – all from the comfort of the front seat of your ride. And those fries… And that tartar sauce… And the malts! Dreamy. (This location is conveniently situated directly off Bothell-Everett Highway)
Drive on in!
Dine from the front seat of your ride!
Burgermaster menu – AND a Batmobile!
Oprah loves it – and so do I! Ezell’s Famous Chicken is delicious. And so are their mashed potatoes and gravy, rolls and mac-n-cheese… (Uhhh, I’ll be right back – need to take a trip to Ezell’s) Bothell-Everett Highway for the win!
I’ve got a punch-card for Patty’s Egg Nest – and I am PROUD! Their Swedish pancakes are glorious. I occasionally venture off into their other breakfast masterpieces, but I’m a pretty devoted fan of the Swedish pancakes. Sigh… ALSO right off Bothell-Everett Highway.
Heading into Mill Creek proper via the Bothell-Everett Highway, the area makes way for peaceful neighborhoods and parks, ample shopping areas and a great variety of dining options. Mill Creek is a pleasant community and is perfectly situated for commuting both into the Seattle area as well as locations on the ‘Eastside.’ (Kirkland, Redmond, Bellevue) In recent years, theMill Creek Town Center has brought much commerce into the central area of town. There are quite a few great options to check out in this area. Some of my favorites:
In need of a delicious Bundt cake? WHO ISN’T?? Check out Nothing Bundt Cakes to handle all your Bundt cake needs. Bundt cakes always remind me of this scene in My Big Fat Greek Wedding.
Offering regular tasting events, small plates and a great Washington State wine selection, de Vine Wines is a cozy spot to check out. (Closed Sunday/Monday)
The classic UW staple, University Book Store has a Mill Creek location! A great place to grab a book and do some learnin’.
Central Market is one of my favorite locally-run grocery stores. I typically hit up the Shoreline location, but the Mill Creek location is pretty spectacular. An excellent seafood section, beautiful local produce, an amazing deli (the cheese!) and hard to find international items are just a few of my favorite aspects of this market.
If you’re a fan of maple bars AND bacon, you can have them at the same time at FROST This place makes delicious donuts as well as cupcakes and macrons. I won’t lie. I dream about their bacon maple bar…
The spectacular Bacon Bar at Frost in Mill Creek
The haul from my most recent Frost visit!
Soooo many delicious options at Frost.
These macrons are DELICIOUS!
A little further north on Bothell-Everett Highway, you’ll come to the Gateway Shopping Center and home to the Mill Creek McMenamins. A NW institution, McMenamins restaurants and hotels are some of my very favorite places to visit. (The Bothell Anderson School McMenamins property is fabulous and I’ll be covering it in the King County article) The Mill Creek property features outdoor seating, a brewery, (I love their Ruby Ale!) and a great menu featuring local ingredients. I’m particularly fond of the Quantum Leap BBQ pulled-pork sandwich with TOTS – or the blue cheese Captain Neon burger w/bacon. Yowsa!
The Mill Creek area has no shortage of beautiful parks, nature trails and outdoor opportunities. If you happen to be out and about in the area, a few great options to consider:
The North Creek Trail is a lovely walking/biking trail rambling from Everett through Mill Creek and into Bothell. The wetlands and wildlife are plentiful and there is much beautiful scenery to enjoy. Some of the trail markings and directions can be a bit elusive, but in general the trail starts at McCollum Pioneer Park (600 128th Street SE in Everett) and heads through Mill Creek to North Creek Park in Bothell. (1001 183rd Street in Bothell – AKA: The Sammamish River Trail at Blythe Park) You can enter the trail in Mill Creek just west of the Mill Creek Town Center.
Lush and lovely near the Bothell entrance to the North Creek Trail
‘Lots of new friends to be made on the North Creek Trail!
I don’t normally head from Mill Creek over towards Stevens Pass (US-2), but for purposes of covering my favorite areas on the “mountain side” of Snohomish County, let’s head up nearby SR-522 out of Bothell towards the tiny town of Maltby…
Maltby is a small stop off the highway, but it is a very worthwhile stop to make. All within a few hundred yards you can enjoy a solid day of delicious foods, shopping and adventure. Start off at the always amazing Maltby Café for a delicious breakfast or lunch. (Stop there on the way to the ski hill at Stevens Pass!) The side of bacon comes on a platter and their homemade cinnamon rolls are the size of a dinner plate… Nearby Maltby Antiques and Collectibles has an excellent selection and I’ve picked up many things I’ve absolutely NEEDED from them over the years. Cross hot air balloon rides off your bucket list and hop a ride with Over the Rainbow. (Passengers picked up at Maltby Café) And lastly, end your Maltby adventure with creamy, dreamy ice cream and custard at the Snoqualmie Scoop Shop. (Opens on 5/14 for the summer – I love their French Lavender ice cream!)
Heading out of Maltby, continue west on SR-522 and head towards the turnoff to US-2, to get to our next point of interest, the mountain-gateway town of Monroe. (For the record, I pronounce it MON-roe. My goofball brother thinks I’m ridiculous and says Mun-roe… The battle wages on. MON-roe. MON-roe. MON-ROE!)
Monroe is a smaller town, but the largest one you’ll hit until arriving in Leavenworth, just over Stevens Pass. What I like about Monroe (MON-roe) is it’s strategically located to still be a reasonable commute to the Eastside and also closely situated to excellent skiing and hiking opportunities. (My family often stops there to or from the ski hill) Additionally, it’s a great kick-off point for driving the stunning Cascade Loop via US-2 along with offering many great points of interest all its own.
Some great picks when visiting the MON-roe area:
For a good old-fashioned county fair experience, check out the Evergreen State Fair from August 22 thru September 2. (The fairground has events happening year-round!)
For an excellent tap selection, check out the Route 2 Taproom right off US-2. They’ve also got some pretty tasty Smoked Pork Mac-n-Cheese and tots loaded with BBQ pulled pork. Awwweeeee yeeeaahhhh… (Looks like they’re opening a place in Woodinville as well – Route 522 Taproom. Going to have to check it out!)
Soooo, you like the creepy-crawly reptile thing? The Reptile Zoo just past Monroe on US-2 is the place for you. All things reptile – just waiting to creep up on ya! You will never run into me there, however, as I’m not into the creepy-crawly reptile thing. No. No. NO. But hey – you do you!
For a leisurely stroll in the MON-roe area, check out Lake Tye. There’s a nice walk around the lake and there are all sorts of events going on year-round in the area.
A little further west on US-2 you’ll come to the small towns of Sultan, Startup, Goldbar andIndex. They are all located directly alongside US-2 and can be a bit blink-and-you’ll-miss-it, but it would be a real shame to pass them by. There are many great spots tucked along the way and many excellent reasons to stop and spend some time. A few destinations to add to your US-2 adventures:
Beautiful Wallace Falls State Park is an incredibly popular spot for hiking, snowshoeing and camping. There are five cabins for rent (Book early!) as well as walk-in tent sites along with backcountry sites available at nearby lakes. (5-6 mile hike away) One-day parking fee or Discover Pass
There is much watery adventure to enjoy in the greater Sultan area. Rip Tide Fish is a great resource for options in the Skykomish River area and check out Outdoor Adventures for all things river-rafty. If you need a place to stay while adventuring on the Skykomish River, the lovely Bonny Sky Lodge is located right on the river.
I love the old Washington State fire lookouts. You can stay at the Heybrook Lookout, located in the greater Sultan area. It’s high on my bucket list to score a reservation!
The Mountain View Diner in Goldbar serves hearty, made-from-scratch breakfast, lunch and dinner in a cozy little spot right off US-2. YUM!
I love the classic Zeke’s Drive-In. They’ve got great burgers, fries and shakes and are conveniently located directly off US-2. (I must also mention they’re one of the last places to stop with a restroom before you reach the top of the pass. This is important to note.)
I have sworn testimony from a Sultan native that the Sultan Bakery is beyond compare. She’s been a companion on many of my recent foodie adventures and is also a pretty excellent chef in her own right. I trust her taste implicitly and so should you… Thanks for the tip, Ellie!
Taking it to the Snohomish County border, we end up in the tiny hamlet of Index. In addition to the beautiful forests and mountainous areas, Index is also a filming location of 80s classic, Harry and the Hendersons. Check out the quirky Espresso Chalet for a shot of espresso and film nostalgia. Should you be looking for more of an adrenaline shot, Index Town Wall is a popular trail for rock climbing. It’s a beautiful area, but if you have an aversion to heights, you might consider shying away from this one. The same can be said for the lofty heights of nearbyMount Index. It’s going to take a bit of training, but the Mount Index East Route is on my bucket list. One of these days…
For more adventure past Index and into the beautiful, neighboring Chelan County, check out my recentI Ate the Statearticle for the tasty scoop.
Back near the Maltby area, head up SR-9 towards the beautiful county namesake, Snohomish. Known as the “Antique Capitol of the Northwest,” Snohomish nicely mixes the modern conveniences of a big-city suburb with the classic charm of a well-established small town. The entire downtown “historic district” and nearby Snohomish River Bridge are in fact listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Long inhabited by the Lushootseed Native American tribe (now known as the Snohomish tribe), it became first known as Cadyville by western settlers in 1858 and later in 1871 as Snohomish. (Note: Snohomish the county was established in 1861.)
Strolling down 1st Street in the historic district in an absolutely lovely way to spend the day. Parking can get hectic on weekends, but it is entirely worth the effort. 1st Street alone is chock full of antique shops, boutiques, restaurants and quirky bars and saloons, while the surrounding neighborhoods are filled with beautiful homes and strolls. (Note: Some of the establishments on 1st Street aren’t open on Sundays. This is the case in the off-season – summer might be different…) For a unique tour of the area, check out the Snohomish Walking Tour designed for your smart phone and download the handy accompanying brochure. (Courtesy of the Granite Falls Historical Society) For a detailed look at early Snohomish life, visit the Blackman House Museum (c. 1878) located just off 1st Street.
Great old architecture in downtown Snohomish
So many great old buildings to check out!
I love the tulips in the window…
Old neon signs and lamp posts are the best!
There are so many excellent shops on 1st Street and around the historic district. I will fully admit to girding my wallet on my last visit as there were many bits and baubles I positively needed. BUT – I was really, really good and only picked up a few necessities. Pretty much… A few spots to get you started on your Snohomish visit:
It’s the tiniest shop in Snohomish (true story!), but Lather and Salt is big on delicious smells from their amazing soaps and more. (I have a weakness for handcrafted soaps. I cannot say no. And I didn’t. But come on – everyone needs soap!)
Faded Elegance made me want to sit in the middle of the store, in a cozy chair, enjoying a spot of tea… just taking in the lovely antiques and home items. Like it was my home or something!
Worthy is very worthy of your antiques browsing endeavors. SO many lovely items to bring home… Stay strong!
When I find myself (finally) decorating my dream home/cabin, I’m heading to Retreat home store to help outfit my digs. So many dreamy items to choose from. They have a “bar” where you can create your own terrarium!
I love this store – and their striped storefront!
They have a terrarium bar!
The tiniest shop in Snohomish!
The tiniest shop in Snohomish, but they pack in a lot of amazing goods!
So very lovely…
Chock-a-block with awesome finds!
There are many fine options for dining in the Snohomish area. 1st Street in the Historic District is a goldmine of restaurants, but greater Snohomish has many additional selections. A few places of note for your Snohomish visitation:
Snohomish Pie Company. It’s a company that makes PIES. Need I say more? They also have soups and sandwiches – and cookies. My work here is done. Located on historic 1st (Now also in Mountlake Terrace!)
Larry’s Smokehouse is an excellent place to check out for great BBQ and delicious smoked salmon. They also do great catering and are an incredibly nice bunch of people to work with. I’ve driven out of my way on more than one occasion to procure their smoked salmon. Located on SR-9.
If you’d like your lunch with a side of ghostly super-sauce,The Oxford Saloon is the place for you. Serving pub-style food and tasty drinks, The Oxford Saloon has been in operation since 1910 and is purported to be haunted. Spooky! They’re family friendly during the day and offer music in the evenings. And ghosts. Located on 1st Street.
Also located on 1st street, The Repp features tasty NW bistro fare and cocktails with regular live music. Closed Mondays.
The Skip Rock Distillery offers an excellent selection of spirits and tastings and is located in a very quaint brick shop just off of 1st Street. I’m a fan of their Skip Rock Rye Whiskey. (Closed Sundays)
Randolph Cellars tasting room is located on 1st Street and is a lovely stop amidst the antique browsing. The staff is knowledgeable and friendly and the tasting room relaxing. I very much enjoyed their 2015 Petit Verdot. Delicious!
Great staff and delicious wines at Randolph Cellars
Walking around 1st Street and checking out all the antique shops can indeed offer some exercise, but chances are, you’ve added a bit of food and drink into the equation. While the overall combo might even out, add a few more steps to the Fitbit with one of the great walks and hikes in the Snohomish area. A few popular options:
Centennial Trail – Walk, bike or ride (a horse) on 30 miles of trail connecting Snohomish, Lake Stevens, Arlington and the Skagit County border.
Lord Hill Regional Park – Hike, bike or ride (horses!) around this beautiful nature preserve and check out one of the many ponds within the wetland areas.
Snohomish Riverfront Trail – Walk along the winding Snohomish River and enjoy the peaceful scene. It forms a one-mile loop trail with 1st Street and Maple Avenue. A good one for walking off that wine-tasting and dinner!
Walk off all those treats on the Snohomish River Trail in downtown Snohomish
A great place to enjoy the river and downtown Snohomish…
The Snohomish area has many beautiful stretches of farmland and with that comes many options for visiting the local farmers. Fall and winter bring with them a score of pumpkin picking, corn mazes and Christmas tree gathering, but many of the farms have events going on throughout the year. A few of the prime (pumpkin) picks:
Check out Bob’s Corn & Pumpkin Farm during the harvest season for their corn maze and U-pick pumpkins. They also have a great country store open mid-August thru the end of October.
In addition to corn mazes and pumpkins, Stocker Farms also has Christmas trees, as well as a country market. (All open seasonally) In October, be sure to check out their “Stalker” Farms
The Farm at Swan’s Trail has all the usual fall farm activities with the addition of U-pick apples and early-bird breakfasts on weekends. They also have a concession stand in the fall. (Open end of September thru end of October)
Hagen Farm doesn’t do the corn-maze/pumpkin-patch bit, but they DO sell grass-fed, naturally raised meats as well as offer up the farmhouse for “haycation” rentals. They also have private hiking trails and a roadside store called Milk House Mercantile.
Next up on the tour is a visit to tiny Granite Falls, in the shadow of beautiful Mt. Pilchuck. From Snohomish, we took SR-9 up to SR-92 and into Granite Falls. There are several other back-road routes into Granite Falls, but this one works best for me when coming from the greater Seattle area. (The Jordan Road-Canyon Creek route is an option when coming from Arlington.) It is on the drive to Granite Falls, when the roads become much less traveled, that I really start to feel the tug of mountain adventure. (This is also the case when heading out of MON-roe, but as US-2 is a state thoroughfare and often quite busy, it can be harder to achieve the desired level of peaceful exploration.)
Mount Pilchuck is definitely the most imposing Cascade peak as seen from Granite Falls, but in reality sports about half the elevation of the highest point in Snohomish County. Seen looming in the distance from Granite Falls is the beautifulGlacier Peak, towering over the area at an impressive 10,541 feet. Glacier Peak is the most remote of the five active volcanoes in Washington State, a list which includes Mount St. Helens, Mount Rainier, Mount Baker and Mount Adams. Its threat potential has been labeled “very high” by the USGS, along with Mount St. Helens, Mount Rainier and Mount Baker. (Mount Adams is slacking and has only made it on the “high” threat potential list.) Additionally, the threat levels of Mount St. Helens and Mount Rainier are currently listed as 2nd and 3rd in the US, behind Hawaii’s very active Kilauea. It’s never a dull day for the geology of Washington State.
Tooling around Granite Falls on the Mt Loop Highway (Picture courtesy of B. Skoczen)
Tooling around Granite Falls on the Mt Loop Highway (Picture courtesy of B. Skoczen)
If you’d like to get fueled up for your hiking adventure, check out Hanky Pies for a delicious cup of coffee and a spot of breakfast or lunch – Or PIE! They also do a lot of great community work and sponsor local events. (Closed Sundays) For a great pizza pie, hit up Omega Pizza just around the corner for delicious pizza, salads, gyros, calzones and more.
Cool old (Water? Mining?) wheel outside the Granite Falls Museum
Just out of Granite Falls lurks one of the coolest roads in Washington State, the Mountain Loop Highway. (And we have a lot of cool roads!) It is only fully traversable in the warmer months (unless you’ve got a beefy snowmobile or are rockin’ snowshoes), but even then it can give you a go as portions are a bit narrow and graveled. Who’s up for an adventure?!
The Mountain Loop Highway heads out of Granite Falls towards Verlot, past the ghost towns of Silverton and Bedal (formerly Monte Cristo) and ends as you near Darrington. It’s a serious mountain trek filled with beautiful hiking, camping, backpacking, fishing, climbing and general communing-with-nature opportunities. It’s truly unique and removed from the city hubbub only a couple hours away. Check out the Granite Falls MuseumMountain Loop Tour for commentary along the way. (There’s very spotty cell service, if any, so download the brochure before you head out. GPS should still work on your phone.) For the record, on this particular journey, part of the road was still closed due to winter conditions. We did, however, go as far as we could on both sides of the closure. (There was a fair amount of driving involved as well and several times Beth and I looked at each and agreed we should probably turn around. Sporty Spice is AWD and good in snow, but sometimes you gotta make the icy roads call… We’ve learned our lessons over the years.)
Mountain Loop Highway shenanigans. Perhaps it’s time to turn around… (Photo credit: B. Skoczen)
A total SHEET OF ICE on the Mt Loop Highway… (Photo Credit: B. Skoczen – Because I WAS WHITE KNUCKLING IT)
There are indeed many great hikes and adventures to be had along the way on the Mountain Loop Highway. Here are a few cool spots to get you going:
Lake 22 Trail is a beautiful jaunt with lush views in the Granite Falls area near Mount Pilchuck. It can also be a good snowshoe trail in the snowy months, but due to avalanches on the road, travel in the warmer months is recommended.
There aren’t many structures or remnants of the old mining settlement left, but the Monte Cristo Ghost Town is definitely worth investigating. It’s a nice round trip hike out of the Barlow Pass area. (Only accessible in warmer months due to this portion of the highway being closed during winter.)
The Big Four Ice Caves are located out of Verlot and offer a great view of Big Four Mountain and the icy caves at its base. (Don’t walk on or in them!) The hike is fairly easy, but not really accessible in the winter months.
For great snowshoeing with beautiful forest scenery and views, hit up the Mallardy Ridge trail area just past Verlot for great winter adventure.
Takin’ a break where Mt Loop Highway turns to gravel (and ice). Look at that sleek ride in the background!
We could’ve kept going, but sometimes AWD isn’t enough…
Another travel buddy for the journey – Niji the Shiba Inu. (Dog wrangling courtesy of her owner, Beth.)
‘Lots of snow near Clear Creek on the Mt Loop Highway
Most of these routes were still snowed in…
The way the water was pooling up on Clear Creek was stunning!
Popping out on the other side of the Mountain Loop Highway, you wind up in the little foothills town of Darrington. Nestled right at the edge of beautiful forest land and framed by spectacular mountain peaks (Spectacular!), Darrington is a great place to hang out as well as an excellent jumping-off point for local adventures.
Gorgeous mountain views in the Darrington Area (Photo credit: B. Skoczen)
Old hand-carved canoes displayed across from the Darrington Ranger Station
Stunning views of Whitehorse Mountain from downtown Darrington
The Mt Loop Highway – in the Darrington area.
On the topic of hiking and adventuring in the beautiful local forests and mountains, here’s a list to send you on your way:
You can’t miss the amazing Whitehorse Mountain rising up behind Darrington. It dominates the skyline and is truly mesmerizing on a sunny day. The Neiderprum Trail 653 is a good trek, but the ascent of the actual mountain should only be attempted by experienced mountaineers.
Yet another spectacular point in the Darrington skyline are the peaks of Three Fingers. It’s a stunning site just viewing it from town, but there’s a cool trail which provides quite a day’s work-out and stunning views from Tin Can Gap if you’re willing to make the trek. (Or backcountry camp overnight if you want to break up the work-out!)
The historic Green Mt Lookout (c. 1933) is accessible by a relatively moderate trail and provides excellent views and lush forest scenery.
The Old Sauk River Trail is an easy going, family-friendly trail through lush forest with streams and the Sauk River in the background.
The beautiful Sauk River
Great fishing and camping to be had on the Sauk River
In addition to the stunning natural beauty of the Cascades, Darrington is also well known for its contribution to the state’s music scene. Every 3rd weekend of July, Darrington welcomes musicians and fans from around the world for the Darrington Bluegrass Festival. It’s a great time to visit, but arrange lodging early.
If all the hiking, driving on crazy backroads and basking in the local beauty makes you hungry, there are some great options in Darrington to curb your appetite:
The Burger Barn is an old-school burger joint in the center of town with great burgers, fries and shakes. Outdoor seating available – great for taking in the mountain view while enjoying a burger.
River Time Brewing is a cozy spot with locally crafted beer, tasty sandwiches and flatbread pizza.
SR-530 is the main route out of Darrington towards Oso and Arlington. In the hopefully not-too-distant future you’ll also be able to hike, run or bike the 28 miles to Arlington via the Whitehorse Trail. (With a connection to the Centennial Trail.) Currently, only 6 miles of the Whitehorse Trail are open to the Swede Heaven Trailhead, but it’s a nice, family-friendly jaunt in the meantime. Keep an eye on the project website for updates on trail status and openings.
On the way towards Arlington and the I-5 corridor, you’ll come to the tiny – and mighty – area of Oso. On March 22nd 2014, Oso experienced a horrible, catastrophic landslide directly alongside and across SR-530. An enormous part of the hillside came careening down across the valley, taking with it homes, livelihoods, a mile of SR-530 and most tragically, the lives of 43 people from the community of Steelhead Haven.
As of March 2019, the 23-mile portion of SR-530 between Arlington and Darrington been renamed the “Oso Slide Memorial Highway” in remembrance of this tragedy. A mailbox sculpture near the site pays tribute to the nineteen mail and newspaper boxes that was once a neighborhood gathering spot.
Coming up on the Oso slide area (Photo Credit: B. Skoczen)
The devastating Oso Slide from 2014 (Photo credit: B. Skoczen)
On a happier note, there are many wonderful spots to be found between Darrington, Oso and Arlington. Check out the Boulder River Wilderness area and in particular, its namesake Boulder River Trail, set with beautiful waterfalls and river views. Also in the area is the old Trafton School (c. 1912), located on Jim Creek Road. The one-room school house is sadly no longer open, but I’ve read it’s been sold and may soon have a new mission. It’s on the National Register of Historic Places and is worth a stop, if only to check it out. If you’re up for a unique dining experience while in the area, stop in at Rhodes River Ranch and dine while looking out over their indoor horse-training ring. They also feature regular entertainment and brunch on weekends.
Rounding out the mountain side of my Snohomish County journey, I spent a bit of time in Arlington. In addition to exploring the area on my own, I also hit up my good friend and Arlington native, Mallen, for a few deep-root tips. The Arlington area has a lot to offer and it was good to get a few secret-squirrel tips from a local. (Thanks, Mallen!)
Located near the Stillaguamish River (named for the local Stillaguamish Tribe) and the Sauk River Valley, Arlington is well-situated for great outdoor adventures as well as being an important contributor to the state’s agricultural bounty. Its close proximity to the I-5 corridor also makes it easily accessible to Seattle and Vancouver BC and a great jumping-off point for travels around the county, in addition to neighboring Skagit County. (I Ate the State article coming soon!)
If you’d like to sample the local wares, consider checking out one of the area’s farms to experience the bounty firsthand. A great way to plan your path is to consult the Red Rooster Route for a list of family farms in the Arlington, Oso and Darrington areas. Take Exit 208 off I-5 to follow the entire route. A few suggestions if you’d like to do things à la carte:
A Northwest classic, Biringer Farms (since 1948) is the quintessential place to visit if you love strawberries – and the other berries, too! Check out their Strawberry Fest in mid-June and sign your kids up for their “Be-A-Farmer” tours from mid-June thru mid-July. To further celebrate your love of the strawberry, hit up the famous Strawberry Festival in neighboring Marysville, June 8th – 16th.
For crisp fall air, farm-fresh produce, pumpkins and corn mazes, visit Fosters Produce & Corn Maze from September 15th thru Oct 31st to get your harvest fill.
You say you don’t really dig the strawberry? Head over to Bryant Blueberry Farm & Nursery for U-pick blueberries and lovely flowers! (July 2 – Early Sept) Also, how do you not like strawberries?
Learn about the history of the valley and all the stories that make it the beautiful and bountiful area it is today at the Stillaguamish Valley Pioneer Museum. (Open Saturdays, Sundays and Wednesdays from 1p-4p. Closed December and January.)
Given its proximity to rivers and forestland, Arlington is situated for some pretty spectacular outdoor activity. Hiking, biking, camping, fishing, boating, hanging out with kangaroos – Arlington has it all! I’ve heard some pretty entertaining stories from my friend, Mallen about his youthful exploits… Arlington seems like a great place to grow up with potential adventures around every corner.
The capped fullpipe at Arlington Skatepark
That’s a big bug!
A few cool places to enjoy the fresh Arlington air:
As if kangaroos in Washington weren’t interesting enough, the Outback Kangaroo Farm also has wallabies, lemurs, llamas, peacocks Nigerian dwarf goats, miniature donkeys and MORE. Check out their 40-min tour and say hi to their very unique menagerie. (Closed Mon-Wed, open 10a-4pm during rest of the week)
Located on the Stillaguamish River (affectionately known as “The Stilly”), River Meadows Park has traditional campsites as well as a yurt village! They also host a Stillaguamish Tribe event every year called the Festival of the River, featuring live music, a fun run and a traditional alder wood salmon bake. (August 10-11)
Haller Park, where the north and south forks of the Stillaguamish River converge, has a lot to offer. The Centennial Trail follows along the old Burlington-Northern railroad tracks and there are great tide pools to check out near the river. The Great Stilly Duck Dash and the Pedal, Paddle, Puff Triathlon events over the 4th of July are great for the whole family. (My friend Mallen says you can win lots-o-money at the Great Stilly Duck Dash by purchasing a duck for the river “race.” If your duck is the fastest – you win!)
Head over to the Arlington airport for the annual Arlington Fly-In. (Aug 16-18) Classic air-show attractions and festivities for the whole family.
If you’d like to cast a line in pursuit of the “big one,” Arlington has many great opportunities to help you on your path. (Or maybe you could just kick back in your rowboat with a beer… And then stop at the fish counter on the way home. Your call.) Lake Armstrong, Lake Riley, Twin Lakes and the North or South Stillaguamish River all offer a chance at making your dreams come true.
There are many great places to grab a bite in Arlington. I recently had one of the best burgers I’ve had in a while – at a very unassuming spot. While there are many more places I’d like to check out, we’re pretty lucky to have the list rounded out by an Arlington foodie.
Hit up the always packed Blue Bird Café for classic diner fare. I’ve been assured it’s the go-to breakfast in Arlington.
If you’re looking for something a little more upscale, head to Bistro San Martin for a nice meal on your next date night.
I love that the Moose Creek BBQ is located in Smokey point – How could you not get a smoky perfect brisket with a name pedigree like that? “Pretty legit old-school BBQ,” says my friend, Mallen.
Chinese food on pizza? Sign me up! Hit up the very unique Pedeltweezers if you’re curious.
I’ll admit it. I have a long-time affection for both bowling and bowling alley/diner food. Rocket Alley can hook you up with both – as well as some entertaining eating competitions. Additionally, I’m told the owner is also a sawyer, who sells the wood rounds he cuts up mixed with sawdust for self-burning campfire wood. Bowling, tasty food AND campfire goods – that’s a turkey right there! (Yes. I just made a bad bowling joke. Carry on.)
The hidden-away Ellie’s at the Airport is a great place for lunch or breakfast. Airplanes and omelets – good morning!
For an excellent burger, fresh-cut fries and a delicious milkshake, head to Nutty’s Junkyard grill. It truly was the best burger I’ve had in a long time and the décor is worth checking out in and of itself. I can honestly say, I’ve never seen a bathroom floor laid with pennies. Very cool!
Oh, man. This burger was SO good. Classic bacon burger – try it! And those fries!!
The quirky, cool Nutty’s Junkyard Grill
DELICIOUS burger options!
A truly unique floor in the Nutty’s bathroom…
Hand-dipped milkshakes at Nutty’s!
Great nostalgia everywhere at Nutty’s
Head over to Skookum Brewery for locally crafted beers in their Smokey Point taproom. They also host local food trucks and events. (Closed Mon/Tues)
I’ve seen some good shows and actually won a few dollars at the Angel of the Winds Casino & Resort. They have a nice selection of restaurants, an onsite hotel and are easily accessible from Seattle or Vancouver BC. You can’t go wrong! Well, except maybe at the craps table. I suck at craps.
Set in a historic Arlington building (c. 1898) that’s seen many incarnations over the years, the Mirkwood Public House hosts live music, a café with vegetarian and vegan options, gaming, drinks and a tattoo shop called Mordor Tattoo. All the orcs love it. Sauron would be proud.
Looking for a dive-bar kinda night? The Cedar Stump is the place to go. (But my buddy, Mallen tells me everyone just calls it ‘The Stump.’) I’m betting the farm it’s named after the famous Big Cedar Stump, now located at Smokey Point Rest Stop off of I-5 North…
This guy is OLD…
The Big Cedar Stump timeline
You used to be able to drive through it…
If you’re out for a ride on your Hog, check out the Longhorn Saloon. It was voted one of the 5 best biker bars in the greater Seattle area by KISW!
For drinks, pool and the Hawks, check out the Whitehorse Saloon in downtown Arlington.
Arlington is a tight-knit community with a great local focus, but they also reach out on the larger scale. Until recently, my friend Mallen was a Volunteer with the Arlington Fire Department. He spent many years on the force and was also able to witness and participate in much of the great community work the department performs. One such event involved the somber endeavor of the department traveling to New York City to bring back a piece of steel-column from the World Trade Center to honor the tragedy of 9/11. The piece is now housed at local Fire Station 46where the public is welcome to visit.
This brings to an end my “mountain side” adventures in Snohomish. Time to hit up I-5 South and head home… Stay tuned for Part II where I’ll mosey around the beautiful “Seaside Loop,” starting at Stanwood and heading down through Everett, Mukilteo and Edmonds. There are SO many more amazing spots to check out in the diverse lands of Snohomish County. DO join me!
See you soon!
I Ate the State: Snohomish County – The Playlist – Check it out on Spotify
Keep on Runnin’ – Journey (from Escape)
Half-Life – Duncan Sheik (from Daylight)
Crooked Teeth – Death Cab for Cutie (from Plans)
Wait Until Tomorrow – Live at the Nokia Theatre – John Mayer (from Where the Light Is: John Mayer Live in Los Angeles)
The Most Beautiful Girl (in the Room) (Live) – Flight of the Conchords (from The Distant Future)
Wonderboy – Tenacious D (from Tenacious D)
Only Happy When It Rains – Garbage (from Absolute Garbage)
Good Morning! – Duncan Sheik (from Daylight)
Someday You Will Be Loved – Death Cab for Cutie (from Plans)
I Think I’m Paranoid – Garbage (from Absolute Garbage)
Still They Ride – Journey (from Escape)
Robots (Live) – Flight of the Conchords (from The Distant Future)
Stop This Train – Live at the Nokia Theatre – John Mayer (from Where the Light Is: John Mayer Live in Los Angeles)
Wherever Is Your Heart – Brandi Carlile (from The Firewatcher’s Daughter)
Are You Alright? – Lucinda Williams (from West)
Merry Go ‘Round – Kacey Musgraves (from Same Trailer Different Park)
Come with Me Tonight – Bob Schneider (from I’m Good Now)
3×5 – John Mayer (from Room for Squares)
Step Off – Kacey Musgraves ((from Same Trailer Different Park)
Wayside / Back in Time – Gillian Welch (from Soul Journey)
Speed Trap Town – Jason Isbell (from Something More Than Free)
The Moon Is Made of Gold – Rickie Lee Jones (from Balm in Gilead)