Seattle Culture

The Art of Edmonds

Picturesque waterfront community carves new identity

By Sarah Stackhouse April 2, 2024


This article originally appeared in the March/April 2024 issue of Seattle magazine.

Rolling into Edmonds on Ninth Avenue, you get the picture right away. In the “Bowl” — downtown, the business district, and ferry terminal — the city stretches out, gripping Puget Sound. Edmonds bursts with the smalltown waterfront charm reminiscent of European fishing villages, but with panoramic views of the Olympic Mountains. The view reflects a community welcoming new life while honoring its history.

In 2019, Edmonds was designated as Washington’s first Creative District, underscoring its commitment to the arts. The District’s five-year plan spearheads the Fourth Avenue Cultural Corridor project, aimed at transforming the stretch from the Edmonds Center for the Arts to Main Street into a public walkway, enhancing art and community engagement downtown.

Art is integral to the town’s blueprint. Beginning in April, the city’s Arts Commission will curate and fund a year-long poetry installation. It also funds murals, some refreshed annually with new artwork; the Edmonds Art in Public Spaces, displaying works by Northwest artists; and the annual Arts Festival during Father’s Day weekend.

Downtown holds several galleries and creative spaces. The newly opened Graphite brings artists and community together to learn and create. ART Spot offers classes and supplies. Seasonal events include the fall Scarecrow Festival, when businesses create scarecrows for display and public voting.

Teas and Treasures, a favorite shop since 2001, changed hands this year. The new owners are maintaining its unique character — selling tea and pirate loot — while updating its offerings. This refresh mirrors the town’s draw for a new wave of families.

This blend of old and new is evident throughout town. Local spots like Edmonds Bookshop, Driftwood Modern, Wishing Stone, Crow, and the Edmonds Movie Theater, known for its free monthly throwback films, contribute to the town’s charm.

World traveler and guidebook author Rick Steves calls Edmonds home, and you can catch him sipping a pint at Churchkey Pub, just across the street from his Travel Center. This quintessential English pub, a place where stories and ales flow in equal measure, once housed a piano shop run by Steves’ dad.

The dining scene is fun and diverse. Moto Pizza, San Kai, Niles Peacock Kitchen and Bar, and Market Edmonds, alongside Fire and The Feast, have all opened in the past six years, drawing crowds. Family-owned restaurants such as Ono Poke, Vinbero, Maize & Barley, Rise & Shine Bakery, Sante Fe Mexican Grill & Cantina, Barkada Edmonds, Thai by Day, and Toshi’s add to the town’s food diversity. Kelnero is the place to be for crafted cocktails. Salish Sea Brewpub offers beers often served by the owners, while Scratch Distillery along the water is known for handcrafted spirits made from local ingredients.

Edmonds wears its past on its sleeve. Plaques throughout the town mark historical sites. The old bones of its lumber town days are still visible in the ghostly pier ruins along the shore. This place, which started as a gritty sawmill shipping logs to Seattle, has morphed into something else entirely — a lively beach with a connecting ferry line and Amtrak station.

Marina Beach, the southernmost park on the waterfront, offers barbecue pits, a volleyball net, a playground, and an off-leash dog area. A couple of blocks north is the Edmonds Underwater Park, established in 1970. It is known for its marine life and a submerged dry dock from the 1930s, and is among the most popular dive sites in the Pacific Northwest.

As the town reflects on the past, it actively shapes its future. New developments like The Village at Westgate and Main Street Commons blend into the landscape. In 2015, Cascadia Art Museum replaced a rundown antique mall, winning the Art + Architecture Award. Now a tourist destination and community hub, it offers art-related film viewings, lectures, the best gift shop in town, and a constantly changing collection of Northwest art.

No longer just a golden age community, Edmonds has become a center for growth and change. The ferry line, train, and new families bring motion, matching the Sound’s changing tides.

Known for: The connecting ferry line to the peninsula, which is marked by the sign, “You’re not just in line; you’re in Edmonds.”
Best way to escape work-from-home-blues: Walnut Street Coffee.
Walkability: 48
Median home price: $940,000.
Surprising fact: Every year on Sept. 11, Edmonds holds a ceremony and moment of silence at its 9/11 memorial, featuring a 1-ton beam from the  World Trade Center.

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