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Thursday, July 8, 2004 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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Edmonds: Smalltown feel of mom and pop

Seattle Times Travel editor

City Walks


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The walk: Here's the problem with Edmonds. You start off in one direction, then your head swivels, and then your feet follow and pretty soon your entire body has lurched off in a completely different direction from that which you'd intended because "it looks really neat over there!"

And then, so launched, it happens again. And again.

This waterfront city on Puget Sound about 15 miles north of Seattle is like that, a compact, mom-and-pop-store, ferryboat-landing, quintessential beachfront town. With a gorgeous view.

So, it has everything, which we tried to include in this walk — and, yes, we allowed for swiveling necks.

Start out at the corner of Sunset Avenue on Main Street, just up the block from the Edmonds/Kingston ferry terminal. Head east, up the hill, a small incline. It's about the only grade you'll have to deal with — but, hey, at least it's at the beginning.

Start on the south side of Main Street, as you head east (the right side of the street). Walk four blocks to the intersection of Main and Fifth Avenue, where you'll see a fountain in the middle of a turnabout in the middle of the street. Remember this spot. It's your compass.

ELLEN M. BANNER / THE SEATTLE TIMES
Gabrielle Catton of Edmonds pushes Haley, 1, in her stroller as big sister Lexi, 4, walks past the fountain in downtown Edmonds.
First, though, as you walk these initial blocks, you'll notice something we might as well discuss right now. There are plenty of places to eat, shop and stop in downtown Edmonds. You will be hard-pressed to find a chain store of any kind, which makes it even more attractive to those of you wanting to part with some cash. Just remember that it may take those of you so-challenged a little longer to get through this stretch than would, say, a stroll across the I-90 floating bridge.

Thus forewarned, turn right on Fifth, walk a short distance south to Dayton and Maple streets. There, Old Milltown will be across the street on your left. It's a turn-of-the-century, auto-shop-turned-mall now filled with storefronts. We warned you.

Having wrested yourself from its clutches, turn around and head back toward the fountain and once there head across Main, staying on Fifth. In a matter of steps you'll come across the Edmonds Museum, open from 1 to 4 p.m. Wednesday through Sunday. It's worth a stop.

Exit that building, turn left and walk back to the fountain.

Now, turn right and head toward the waterfront on the north or right side of the street.

ELLEN M. BANNER / THE SEATTLE TIMES
Abby Benoit, left, and Shirley Gemeinhardt check out books at one of the many shops put together by 55 antique dealers at Old Milltown.
The wonderful throwback, single-screen Edmonds Theater immediately may tempt you. Succumb, if you must. More than 80 years old, it predates the "talkies." Every town should be so lucky.

But the walk continues on down Main to Second Avenue, where you'll turn right. Here's where you can stretch out. Walk about a half-mile north through the neighborhoods to Caspers Street, turn left, walk a block to Sunset Avenue and if you're there in the evening and can't figure out how this street got its name, then no doubt you have spent way too much time in Kansas.

Head south on Sunset for the return half-mile and the end of your walk at Main. Along the way, envy — and respect — the view, the homes that face that view, the gardens and the people who live near enough to make this one of the most popular strolls in town on a summer evening.

You will return.

Lunch or snack stop: Stop at Olives Gourmet Foods Cafe & Wine Bar, 107 Fifth Ave. N., No. 103 (425-771-5757). The shop is just north of the fountain. Order sandwiches or just pick and choose from among the deli-style offerings. Bring your own picnic basket — or just use the bags — and get to the beach.

Secret tip: Find the picnic table at the north end of Sunset Avenue near Caspers Street, if you're lucky enough to find it empty. Bring food from home or pick up some in Edmonds. Make sure you go on a clear-blue-sky, hot, hot day. Arrive about 7 p.m., eat slowly, read, talk, DO NOT play your boombox or rev your engine. Enjoy the sea air and stare west at a view that makes the Pacific Northwest such an incomparably beautiful place.

Access: Most of this walk is flat. You'll find inclines only at the waterfront portions of Main Street and Sunset Avenue.

Parking/bus route: If you can avoid weekends and high commuter times, it'll be a lot easier to park and move about because you'll bump up against Edmonds/Kingston ferry traffic at the beginning and end of this walk. If you're traveling by bus, take Snohomish County's Community Transit 416 or 404 from downtown Seattle to downtown Edmonds.

Terry Tazioli: ttazioli@seattletimes.com or 206-464-2224.

Copyright © 2004 The Seattle Times Company

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