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8 Most Charming River Towns in Washington to Visit in 2024

by Staff

Washington is an interesting state with spectacular river town scenery proudly sponsored by the Columbia River along with its tributaries like Yakima, Snake, and Crab Rivers. These water bodies slice through some of the state’s best towns or bypass them, with their banks creating scenic waterfronts and marinas. These waterfronts and jetties set the stage for adventure, relaxation, retreat, and intimacy with nature. From La Conner, where waterfront beauty collides with iconic festivals to Port Townsend and its lovely Victorian homes, wonder, serenity, and happiness await every visitor in these eight charming river towns in Washington in 2024.

Anacortes

Aerial view of Anacortes, Washington.

Anacortes is a town in Fidalgo Island, Skagit County, renowned as a foremost boating hub for ferries heading to the San Juan Islands. The town is bordered by the Skagit River, with a bustling marina offering scenic river views and access to thrilling water sports. However, there are some strategic spots in the town where its aquatic splendor comes alive and water fun becomes sensational. The 220-acre Washington Park is a notable mention as it features a boat ramp from which visitors can explore the waters around Fidalgo Islands while taking in views of the nearby San Juan and Cypress Islands. The Anacortes Community Forest Lands is another choice outdoor destination, with 50 miles of hiking and biking trails, a lush forest, lakes, wetlands, and meadows waiting to be explored. Before leaving, visit the Maritime Heritage Center to learn about the town’s maritime history, and board the historic W.T. Preston steamboat to cruise around the waters for a feel of old-time vibes. 

Kennewick

A playground in Kennewick's Inspiration Park.
A playground in Kennewick’s Inspiration Park. Image credit: Kirk Bagley via Wikimedia Commons.

Kennewick is a picturesque town by the Columbia River’s southwest shores, offering a splendid outdoor retreat full of exciting adventures. While here, visitors can head over to Columbia Park, which features a large waterfront area with several boat ramps from where visitors can go canoeing, kayaking, or boating on the Columbia River. The park is also home to the multi-use Sacagawea Heritage Trail, stretching 23 miles along the Columbia River. For more adventures, visitors can explore Kennewick’s beautiful downtown, which is filled with antique shops, galleries, boutiques, and many historic buildings that reflect the area’s early days. 

La Conner

Aerial view of the beautiful town of La Conner, Washington.
Aerial view of the beautiful town of La Conner, Washington.

La Conner promises visitors unforgettable experiences with its water scenery and tons of fun and recreational activities. The town is positioned on a delta near the mouth of the Skagit River and is home to attractions like the Rainbow Bridge, where visitors can walk and behold the stunning sights of boats and the Swinomish Channel. Underneath the bridge is the Conner Waterfront Park, which offers more scenic views and opportunities for picnics. 

The Swinomish Channel is another attraction in itself, as visitors can take long walks by its shores to spot Blue Herons, Seals, and Bald Eagles. For fun lovers visiting in April, La Conner hosts a series of entertaining events to mark the iconic Skagit Valley Tulip Festival, while the 4th of July Fireworks are always epic in the town. 

Blaine

The gate monument in Peace Arch Park, Blaine, Washington
The gate monument in Peace Arch Park, Blaine, Washington. Image credit: Elena_Alex – stock.adobe.com.

Blaine is a scenic waterfront town on the border with Canada and home to the 67-foot Peach Arch monument, which commemorates the peace treaties after the 1812 war with Britain. Visitors can explore the US part of this park by strolling, holding picnics, and admiring artworks. Further inland, the town has plenty of attractions for visitors, like Blaine Harbor, which offers 360-degree views of the Salish Sea and endless opportunities for boating. Hughes Bayview Park is another top attraction in this town, offering beautiful waterfront scenery and bird-watching opportunities. In addition, Blaine is home to Semiahmoo Park, which offers numerous beaches, picnic areas, walking trails, and bird-watching opportunities. 

Port Townsend

The beautiful town of Port Townsend, Washington.
The beautiful town of Port Townsend, Washington.

Port Townsend is a mesmerizing river town on the Quimper Peninsula, where waterfront beauty and Victorian architecture harmonize to stun visitors. This charming town captures the hearts of tourists right from its historic downtown sprinkled with Victorian homes and at the Pope Marine Park, where one can just sit and admire the downtown area and the waterfront. To savor more of this town’s aquatic splendor, visitors can head over to North Beach Park to walk along the beach and collect sea glass. Next, enjoy a picnic with family and friends at the waterfront Chetzemoka Park, which features dreamy views of Admiralty Inlet and the Cascade range. To wrap up, visitors can get a little touch of history at the Fort Worden State Park, featuring the scenic Point Wilson Lighthouse and the Puget Sound Coast Artillery Museum, which preserve and interpret the artillery history of the coast. 

Ocean Shores

ocean shores washington
The entrance to Ocean Shores, Washington. Image credit: Steven Pavlov via Wikimedia.com.

Ocean Shores is one of the most beautiful towns in Washington, surrounded by the Pacific Ocean on the west and Grays Harbor to the east and south, and it offers six miles of gorgeous sandy shores to explore. Visitors can sunbathe, watch birds, fish, surf, kayak, hold picnics, and play on this massive beach. The 683-acre Oyhut Wildlife Recreation Area, south of Ocean Shore, is a smaller alternative, featuring unspoiled beaches, blue herons, brown pelicans, and snowy plovers, among other birds. Damon Point is another captivating attraction featuring a mile-long beach with majestic ocean views at the edge of the Ocean Shore peninsula. Other recreational areas in and around Ocean Shores include – North Bay Park (great for families with children), Ocean City State Park (great for camping, fishing, and wildlife viewing), and Emerson (great for sports and relaxation). 

Snoqualmie

Aerial view of Snoqualmie, Washington
Aerial view of Snoqualmie, Washington.

Snoqualmie is an enchanting town by the Snoqualmie River where visitors will be glad never to leave. This town is close to the charming Snoqualmie Falls, which pours down a whopping 268 feet and forms a picturesque stream below. For the ultimate experience of this waterfall, visitors should book a few nights at Salish Lodge, which overlooks the picturesque natural wonder and offers an all-inclusive experience. 

Downtown Snoqualmie is also a few miles from Three Forks Natural Area, positioned at the confluence of the North, South, and Middle Forks of the Snoqualmie River, and offers incredible river and mountain scenery. For more scenery, visitors can take a short drive to Snoqualmie Point Park to enjoy picnics, and views of the Snoqualmie Valley and the Cascade Mountains can be seen clearly. Away from the natural endowments, Snoqualmie features the Northwest Railway Museum, where visitors can see a working railroad and learn about how railroads contributed to the development of the Pacific Northwest. 

Stevenson

Beautiful view of Stevenson overlooking the Columbia River in Washington.
Beautiful view of Stevenson overlooking the Columbia River in Washington.

Stevenson is a beautiful river town perched on the banks of the awe-inspiring Columbia River, where visitors will be spoiled with scenery and adventures. To begin, visitors can take a walk along the Columbia River waterfront or the Rock Cove Pathway to take in the views. Next, head over to Bob’s Beach to relax and watch windsurfers, or take a short trip northward to Gifford Pinchot National Forest to enjoy hiking, camping, and fishing. 

In addition, Stevenson is the launch pad to the Washington side of the Columbia River Gorge, which has hiking trails for all abilities and several refreshing waterfalls. The town also features the Columbia Gorge Interpretive Center Museum, where visitors can learn more about the formation and see artifacts from Native American tribes and early European settlers.

Whether you are looking forward to a weekend vacation or a lengthy getaway from the cares of life in 2024, the many gorgeous river towns of Washington have the stage set. With their laid-back vibes, charming waterfront scenery, and numerous recreational areas, visitors will be overwhelmed with so many things to see and do. Step away from the big cities of Washington and visit these small towns today for unforgettable experiences. 

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