You likely know the historic town of Snohomish for its long-time reputation as “The Antique Capital of the Northwest.” Yes, antique shops abound, plus many boutiques selling collectibles, unusual gifts, one-of-a-kind clothing and home furnishings. But there are also many other discoveries that make a day trip to Snohomish well worth the visit.
Founded in 1859, Snohomish was one of the first inland settlements in the Puget Sound region. It is listed on both the State and National Registries of Historic Places and is the oldest and best preserved town in Snohomish County.
The city’s historic district boasts many beautiful Victorian homes built before or around 1900. Stroll around the area north of the town’s center to see these gems, many with their historic date posted by the front door. Perhaps take the annual fall Historic Homes Tour to see selected homes and learn about their period architecture.
A highlight is the 1878 Blackman House, open to the public as a glimpse into local history on most Sundays during the year. The Blackman House was the Victorian home of Snohomish’s first mayor, Hyrcanus Blackman. It was family-occupied until the 1960s when it was acquired by the Snohomish Historical Society. So this very historical house contains many original furnishings and exhibits, such as an intricately-woven, framed “wreath” made of human hair – popular during the Victorian era.
If you are antique-hunting, visit the two major sites: Star Center Antique Mall and Antique Station in Victoria Village. Both are within a few walkable blocks of each other and host most of the 175 antique dealers in Snohomish in small display areas within their facilities.
Beyond antiques and boutiques, you can discover many other enticements in Snohomish, population 9,000-plus. Check out Bruning Pottery, where you can buy its local pottery for sale and often watch pottery students learn this craft in the workshop adjoining the store. The owners may be willing to give an impromptu tour of the workshop, which includes a fascinating revelation about color dyes and how they affect the final pottery product.
Take a coffee and pastry break at the Snohomish Pie Company or the Snohomish Bakery. You can’t help but be tempted by the large variety of fresh-baked pies at the first and exquisite pastries and breads at the bakery, which also serves breakfast and lunch. Check out the 12-foot-high metal sculpture of Rolling Pin Woman by local artist Jesse Purdom at the Snohomish Bakery – she is kinetic, constantly moving her rolling pin across a table!
You can also enjoy lunch – and dinner – at the Cabbage Patch Restaurant, located in a Victorian house filled with antique furniture and artwork by renowned local artist, Jim Davis. In business for more than 30 years, the Cabbage Patch features a menu of home-style cooking accented with gourmet entrees. Its Fireside Lounge is popular for Happy Hour.
Visit the tasting room of Skip Rock Distillers, which produces award-winning spirits including vodka, whiskey, rum and liqueurs. Owner Ryan Hembree is often behind the tasting counter to explain how every bottle is hand-produced from scratch in small batches with locally sourced ingredients whenever possible. From the tasting area, you overlook the production facility. Sample intriguingly named Badger Pocket Black Peppercorn Vodka, Headwaters White Whisky and Belle Rose Rum, for example. Or try Nocino Walnut, Raspberry and Spiced Apple Liqueur s. Each one has won awards. There is a $5 tasting fee, which applies to any purchase.
If you’re a cyclist, joggers or walker, discover the Centennial Trail. A rails-to-trails project, it is a 30-mile paved path built on the old Burlington-Northern Railroad line. The Centennial Trail runs from Snohomish’s east end of town to the Nakashima Barn Trailhead near the Snohomish/Skagit county line. It is a generous 10 feet wide, paralleled by a 6-foot-wide, natural-surface equestrian trail.
And should you be visiting Snohomish on or after May 3, the Snohomish Farmers’ Market launches at 3 p.m. every Thursday from May through September. This year is its 25th anniversary, so special events and festivities will complement the local fruits, berries and vegetables for which it’s famous. You’ll also find a great selection of other items such as honey, ice cream, local roasted and organic coffee, prepared food treats and arts and crafts. Musicians and dancers provide lively entertainment.
To easily find all the above locations, stop at the Snohomish Visitor Information Center at First Street and D Avenue for a great map of the downtown area and brochures on local attractions.
Blackman House Museum, Snohomish
Julie Gangler is a freelance writer who has worked as a media relations consultant for the Snohomish County Tourism Bureau. She began her career as a staff writer at Sunset Magazine and later was the Alaska/Northwest correspondent for Travel Agent Magazine.