Main Street | Credit: Flickr CC, Jasperdo
I first discovered Snohomish’s charm 10 years ago, when I pedaled through the town with two friends on a Seattle-to-Bellingham bike ride (ah, those pre-kid days). We browsed the antique stores and cafes in the compact historic district, admired the Snohomish River, which rolled alongside First Street, and ate delish cinnamon rolls at the Snohomish Bakery.
Things have changed since then: I’ve got a husband and almost 8-year-old son in tow, but Snohomish, just a 40-minute drive from Seattle, still delivers — especially in the fall. Want to pick pumpkins and apples at the same farm? Browse for a vintage typewriter? Bike through fall color? Snohomish is your answer. Here’s a starter itinerary.
1. Fuel up
Pile your crew — and bikes — in the car for the hop to Snohomish and park on First Street in the heart of the historic district (listed on the National Register of Historic Places). First task: Fuel up on your carb of choice. We love the friendly Snohomish Bakery, which sells pastries, ham-and-gruyere croissants and biscuits and gravy. Just across the street, Looking Glass Coffee welcomes families with plush couches, excellent coffee and a doughnut machine.
Nearby bonus: With pastry in hand, wander the short but scenic pedestrian path along the lovely Snohomish River, where you might see boats cruising and fisher-folk throwing a line in. Find stairs down to the river at several points along First Street.
2. Scout some antiques
Need a vintage typewriter, a 1950s-era schooldesk or a 1970s-era pinball machine? You’ll find these items and much more in one of the many antique shops in downtown Snohomish (aka the Antique Capital of the Northwest), such as the Antique Station at Victoria Village. Other fun stops include Bee Bops and Lollipops for kids’ Seahawks gear and My Eclectic Home for handmade American girl doll garb and sweet signs. Or leave part of your gang at the nostalgia-rich Pegasus Theater Shop to play old-school video games while you admire vintage shops and get a cone.
Nearby bonus: Just a long block up from the historic district, Uppercase Bookshop on Second Street is a two-story book paradise set in a log-cabin style building that sells both new and used titles. Don’t miss owner Leah McNatt’s cool collection of clocks from fantastical lands such as Oz and Narnia.
3. Take a spin on the Centennial Trail
While Seattle’s Burke Gilman trail can feel more like a highway than a bike path, the Centennial Trail — a 29-mile rail-trail route that starts in Snohomish and runs north to the Skagit County line — feels enchantingly quiet and scenic, the perfect path for a short family ride. Park at the senior center (this is the official Centennial trail parking in town) and pedal north. The trail winds at an easy grade through farmland and over bridges. The Pilchuck (2.1 miles) or Machias trailheads (4.8 miles) are potential turnaround spots. Download a trailhead map for more options.
Nearby bonus: Too drizzly to bike? Swim instead. Just a few blocks from the trail, the Snohomish Aquatic Center is a 52,000-square-foot, state-of-the-art facility with a lazy river, zero-entry area, splash play, huge water slide and a FlowRider, a surf-simulation machine that is the only one of its kind in the Seattle area. Note, kids have to be at least 42 inches tall to try it.
4. Pumpkins, corn mazes and apples, oh my!
The farmland surrounding Snohomish, as you probably know, is abundant with farms that come alive in the fall with a huge range of family activities. Just outside town, hit Stocker Farms for pumpkins, a corn maze and nighttime haunted attractions, Stalker Farms (get it?). A few miles northwest of town find the kid paradise that is the Farm at Swan’s Trail, complete with tractor rides, U-pick pumpkins and apples (Jonagold and Honeycrisp), a Washington state-themed corn maze and pig and duck races. Craven Farm, a few miles south of Snohomish, is especially good for tots, with a field full of vintage farm equipment that kids can climb on, as well as a corn maze, obstacle course and a hayride through Minionville (and no admission fee most of the activities). Check out the Snohomish Festival of Pumpkins website for a guide to local farms.
Nearby bonus: If you prefer hiking on trails rather than in a corn maze, lace up your boots at Lord Hill Regional Park, a best-kept-secret nature wonderland that’s just a few miles outside of town. Or if your family would rather bond over mini golf, check out the new 18-hole course at Snohomish Valley Golf Center, just outside town.
5. Nosh on
Ready for lunch or dinner? Right in town, Roger’s Riverview Bistro has terrific kids’ and happy hour menus; and The Hungry Pelican is a local favorite for its community vibe and all-ages open mike night on Thursdays (editor's note: The Hungry Pelican is temporarily closed as of early October 2017, so check in advance if you're planning to go). Fred’s Rivertown Alehouse combines a vintage décor your grandma would love with a foodie-worthy menu. And just outside of town, win kid kudos at the Buzz Inn Steakhouse next to Harvey Airfield, where you can watch small aircraft take off and land. The airfield is also home to a skydiving school.
Nearby bonus: Snohomish Pie Co., also on First Street, dishes out hefty slices of award-winning pie and cookies. A couple of blocks away, Skip Rock Distillers invites adults to taste its artisan offerings at its polished cedar counter Monday through Saturday, 11 a.m.–5 p.m. Look for classics such as rye as well as seasonal offerings such as spiced apple liqueur. Kids are welcome and there’s a block set in the corner.
Looking for more fall fun?