Natural beauty. Historical significance. Endless creativity. Community.

Compelling reasons for families to come visit, and stay awhile.

Edmonds is always a good time, whether you’re waiting for the ferry and people-/whale-watching, or making a splendid day of the many parks, beaches, restaurants, theaters, living galleries, and museums. For the kids — littles AND teens — this sparkly seaside town is jam-packed with tons of fun and discovery.

If they’re not careful, they might learn something, too.

Parks and beaches afford breathtaking views of ferries crossing Puget Sound, orca whales and seagulls in full display, and — at low tide — a colorful, delightful assortment of sea life, from teeny-tiny crabs and stunning starfish to sea slugs and moon snails.

Linger a little longer over chowder and fish ‘n chips at Edmonds’ premier waterfront destinations, Anthony’s HomePort and Arnie’s.

The recent completion of the new Edmonds Waterfront Center gives families even more of a seaside selection. Shore Pine Coffee & Gelato and The Potlatch Bistro opened March 4. Both offer fine picnic takeout options, or dine-in.

Besides espresso drinks, chai, and affogato, Shore Pine Coffee — open every day 9 a.m.-3 p.m. — also features amazing Gelatiamo Gelato, with flavors like Chocolate Stracciatella (chocolate chip) and Tiramisu. Don’t leave yet, they also carry pastries from Seattle’s Macrina Bakery, Snickerdoodles and cinnamon rolls for the kids, Cornetto (Italian croissant) and Marionberry Jam Biscuit for the grown-ups.

Bonus points, an actual Surfcam.

The Potlatch Bistro’s claim to fame is definitely going to be Tea by the Sea, afternoon tea with a view — Chef Trevor Howard’s choice: sandwiches with the crusts cut off, fruit, pastries, and other decorated, bite-sized snacks. Mon.-Fri., 11 a.m.-2 p.m. Reservations required. Lunch for all ages, too. The elevated grilled cheese, a huge kid favorite, is made with Beecher’s and Tillamook cheddar and caramelized onions. Fancy (San Marzano) tomato soup for dunking.

Get closer to the water, and all those orcas, by booking a cruise with Puget Sound Express. Pete and Sherri Hanke have operated their family whale-watching business for 36-plus years. They guarantee a whale sighting, or you come back for another round, free. They also do bird watching tours. Half-day and multi-day tours available.

Edmonds boasts two important museums that do more than pay lip service to history. They take you right there in a moment of time.

The Cascadia Art Museum and Edmonds Historical Museum do their best to bring to life the vast history behind the pioneers, leaders, and artists who shaped this region: the Salish Tribes passing through, harvesting, fishing, gathering, making the most of the natural beauty and natural resources of the land; the 1800s settlers and loggers who came thousands of years later, including an eastern Canadian man named George Augustus Brackett whose belief in “Manifest Destiny” put this town on the map, and the many gifted Northwestern artists finding expression, inspiration in a plethora of media and unconventional venues.

The Cascadia Art Museum, a stone’s throw from the Waterfront in Salish Crossing, is a treasure trove of art history, paying homage to Northwest artists from 1860 to 1970 through exhibits, lectures, the popular “Coffee with the Curator” series, and educational outreach. Cascadia Art Museum is itself historical, the only museum devoted solely, intensively to local artists, often overlooked or lesser known…seeking “to reassess the hierarchy of Northwest art history by advancing the work of women, minority, and other artists who made substantial contributions to the region’s cultural identity [website].” The museum often hosts fun, family art workshops, such as the one coming up March 27, Spring Brush Technique Class | Virtual Family Art Workshop with local Edmonds high school senior Emma Gibson, daughter of artist Mona Fairbanks.

Go to jail at the Edmonds Historical Museum! Kids will get a kick out of the authentic, 1920s jail cell, on the lower floor of the museum. Everything inside…the bunk bed, toilet, graffiti, and sink…is preserved from that period. The Edmonds Police Department once sat in the Carnegie Library and City Hall Building, where the museum is now. The Train Room, also in the lower level, shows kids a bit of the history of the railroad with a restored model train set that once belonged to Donald Drew, owner of the Pacific Fast Mail Company. Drew built the train layout in the mid-‘60s. His heirs donated it to the museum later. The free Edmonds Historical Museum, which hosts the spring and summer markets, is located at 118 5th Ave. N, downtown. 

The museum is temporarily closed. But you can still find art just outside. Coast Salish artist Ty Juvinel's "Marsh Life" carvings are up now.

For another kind of entertainment, there’s always theater.

Movie buffs will dig the historic Edmonds Theater on 415 Main St., now open for the latest award-winning and blockbuster showings. It’s one of the only true movie theaters around, where the popcorn is popped fresh and the seating is open. On the weekends (1 p.m.-6 p.m.), pick up a bag of popcorn — buttered, plain, chocolate, caramel, or both — to watch movies at home. It’s a great deal, and they’re the only ones doing it.

Live performances are a thing here. The talented people behind The Phoenix Theatre, Edmonds Driftwood Players, Olympic Ballet Theatre, Cascade Symphony Orchestra, and Edmonds Center for the Arts dedicate themselves to your entertainment and enlightenment. Comedy, drama, music, dance, Spoken Word, Saturday Matinees, Afterschool Magic Camp with Kevin Spencer, and more. Most, if not all events remain virtual. Contact theaters directly for schedules and more information.

Then, there is art, glorious art for you and your budding artists. This is Edmonds, after all.

Murals, sculptures, floating, flying salmon and orca whale, blinking, shiny happy historical references and fantastic visual sensations lie around every corner, inside businesses, over your shoulder as you dive-bomb into a Midnight Cuban at Maize & Barley or get your hair done at Matthew Robert Salon.

The biggest celebration of art here happens at the free Art Walk Edmonds, held every third Thurs. of every month, 5 p.m.-8 p.m. Participating businesses make room for local artists and their art, connecting with art lovers (of all ages) who come from all over to ogle, make one-of-a-kind purchases, and maybe discover their own inner Picasso. 

Art Walk Edmonds has been on hold for a year since COVID-19, but it’s back (for a time) as the safer Art View Edmonds, a monthly month-long event. Art View Edmonds kicked off in March, with 17 businesses in downtown Edmonds opening “their doors (and walls) for fabulous art in their locations so that you may peruse at your convenience — in a crowd-free way appropriate for these times. [website]” 

Download the map for all the info, or head downtown and look for signs and QR codes about who’s showing what where, as well as how to contact your favorite artist about a piece you’re interested in.

After hitting the beaches and parks, museums, movies, and live shows, head on over to any number of kid-friendly restaurants and bakery cafes around town, including The MAR•KET for fish tacos, Hamburger Harry’s (all-ages Wed. Night Trivia!), and Santa Fe Mexican Grill & Cantina. Come early and grab a couple dozen cookies (Bigfoot!) and donuts at Edmonds Bakery before you ride off to your next fun adventure.

End the day right like the locals do with Revelations Yogurt, healthy or decadent.

Get out there and make some memories!

For more info on family-friendly beach parks and restaurants, read Ellen Hiatt’s “Bliss is a Day on an Edmonds Beach” and Carol Weber’s “Dining for the Whole Family.

Featured photo c/o The Potlatch Bistro | Shore Pine Coffee & Gelato.
"Marsh life" c/o Coast Salish artist Ty Juvinel.