Help me plot some fun weekend trips around Washington State
February 10, 2010 1:27 PM   Subscribe

I'm looking for great bookstores, thriftshops, funky restaurants/coffeshops, places to buy old records cheap, and other cool places like that in Washington outside Seattle.

My limit is about a four-hour drive (or combination of drive and ferry) from Seattle. As for the thriftshops - I'm not looking for antiques stores, but rather the kind of un-picked-over thrift stores and junk shops one only finds outside of major metropolitan areas. For bookstores, the platonic ideal of what I'm thinking of is The Book Mill in Western Mass, but really, any better-than-expected small-town bookstore is great.

Extra points for recommending great towns that have some combination of the above. I'm new to the area, so don't hesitate to recommend something just because you think it's too obvious.
posted by lunasol to Travel & Transportation around Washington (18 answers total) 18 users marked this as a favorite
Quimper Sound in Port Townsend (it's a record store). Ferry ride, quaint town, nice getwaway, reason alone for a trip.
posted by micawber at 1:57 PM on February 10, 2010

you should head south to olympia. funky, kooky, and small business minded is their bread and butter.

also - portland. specifically powell's. it's been a few years since i've been up there, but i seem to remember lots of neat record shops within a block or so.
posted by nadawi at 1:57 PM on February 10, 2010

Edmonds antique mall. The place is always deserted. It's in a depressing old strip mall. But a short walk to nice waterfront parks and downtown Edmonds, which has nice stores and restaurants.
posted by valannc at 2:06 PM on February 10, 2010

Bellingham, definitely. There's at least 3 cool old second hand bookstores, great local coffeshops ( Avelino's and The Black Drop are both great ) - in fact pretty much all of Bellingham's small but charming downtown is made up of interesting locally owned stores.

The Fairhaven area of Bellingham a few minutes drive from the downtown is also worth a trip - lovely old buildings, more bookstores, more coffeeshops...
posted by Jon Mitchell at 2:14 PM on February 10, 2010 [1 favorite]

This list of bookstores in Bham should help.
posted by Jon Mitchell at 2:15 PM on February 10, 2010

Go to the Skagit, which is gorgeous anyway, and spend some time in the towns up there, including La Conner. Re bookstores, don't miss Next Chapter in La Conner and Scott's Bookstore in Mount Vernon. Both bookstores are great stops for coffee/cookies/other goodies too.
posted by bearwife at 2:25 PM on February 10, 2010 [1 favorite]

You could get to Portland within four hours, which is packed to the gills with coffee and books and cool music. Seconding Powell's, definitely, and do check out Stumptown for coffee.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 3:17 PM on February 10, 2010

The bookstore in Friday Harbor is really nice.
posted by jgirl at 3:39 PM on February 10, 2010

Response by poster: Awesome, these are some great recommendations. I should have mentioned that I already have a trip planned to Portland that will essentially revolve around an afternoon at Powell's.

Any thrift/junk store recommendations?
posted by lunasol at 3:51 PM on February 10, 2010

Best answer: Port Angeles is NW of Seattle, about two-and-a-half hours with ferry ride. Lots of antique/junk stores there. There's a small bookstore called the "Puzzle Book Store" that also sells new and used jigsaw puzzles, and Michael's is a classy restaurant with good, local food.

With a ferry ride out of PA, you could also spend an early afternoon in Victoria, B.C. but this may add a fair amount of time to your trip.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 4:03 PM on February 10, 2010 [1 favorite]

There is a fantastic store in Anacortes, Marine Supply and Hardware,, and there are many other junk and antique stores in the area. The used books and music store The Business is also a must-see. Eat at the Calico Cupboard in the morning hours, or go to the Rockfish Bar and Grill of an afternoon/evening.
posted by The otter lady at 4:06 PM on February 10, 2010

Head out to Roslyn and Cle Elum! It's a gorgeous drive (90 minutes out?) and your destination has mining history, local museums, dozens of historic cemeteries (if you are genealogically inclined, or just like to read while you walk) and each town has a charming main street with a few little shops. Roslyn has four or five gift and junk shops, and an antique mall.

The Roslyn Cafe has quaintness, great sandwiches, house-made burgers, parmesan fries, and local beer.
posted by Sallyfur at 4:43 PM on February 10, 2010

Sadly, Scott's Bookstore in Mount Vernon is closed. But the book store in La Conner is really nice, and has a lot of local books (instead of just the usual glut of mass-market stuff).
posted by ErikaB at 4:52 PM on February 10, 2010

Um, I think The Business (referenced above) has closed as well. It's been a rough year for Skagit County.
posted by ErikaB at 4:53 PM on February 10, 2010

Oh, sad news. We adored the cookies at Scott's, not to mention the fantastic book selection.
posted by bearwife at 5:02 PM on February 10, 2010

Best answer: Definitely give Bellingham a try. It's roughly 1-1/2 hours north, and amazingly interesting for its size. Get off the freeway at Mt. Vernon and take Chuckanut Drive to Bellingham. Absolutely the greatest views ever. Takes you directly into the neighborhood of Fairhaven, and Village Books (, a vibrant local bookstore. 10 minutes from there is downtown; 2 great used bookstores, Henderson's and Michael's, across the street from each other. Thrift stores (mostly charity-run) and coffee shops elbow each other for street space all over downtown. My personal recommendations for coffee: the Adagio on Railroad and the Mt. Bakery on Champion St (2 doors up from the previously recommended Black Drop). There is also Woods Coffee in Boulevard Park; usually crowded but a wonderful place to sit inside with the fire, or outside if it's nice, with the kind of view .... well, words don't work. Sweeping view of the Bay, and the San Juans, all the proportions perfect, and free to anyone who wants to look.

I'm not much into thrift stores, but I like the Bellingham Salvation Army store a lot. There are 2 used records stores across from each other, 1 block up from the Adagio. I'm telling you, it's a small town.

One warning: Bellingham used to be 4 very small towns curved around the Bay. When they combined into one town, they kept their own street names. So a street may angle off and change names twice in one mile. Get a map! It's impossible to get directions from locals because we can never remember which street is named what where.
posted by kestralwing at 4:16 AM on February 11, 2010 [1 favorite]

There's Fun Junk in Olympia though that might be a bit more curated than you're looking for. Other places worth checking out in Oly: Olympia Roasting Company makes exceptional coffee; Orca Books is nice but you're not going to find any steals; Fish Tale for good beer.
posted by otio at 8:04 AM on February 11, 2010

Oh and just a bit further down 5, most of Centralia's many "antique stores" are more like junk shops/flea markets. Also in Centralia there's good Mexican (La Tarasca and Tacos El Rey), the Olympic Club, and RichArt's Art Yard.
posted by otio at 8:20 AM on February 11, 2010

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