Underneath the Rainbow Bridge
Waterfront Park is a new park (opened in 2018 I think) on the bank of the Swinomish Channel just south of downtown La Conner. The park is only a narrow strip between the street and channel, but appealing despite its diminutive size.
A sign at the park displays the original site plan from before construction started. It is difficult to tell if they consider the park finished except for shoreline restoration work that was still in progress when I was here, or if there are more amenities to still be added. Notably missing in the park compared to the site plan is a small shelter and a restroom.
To get to Waterfront Park you want to look for the intersection of Caledonia Street and 3rd Street on the south side of town. Take 3rd Street south about two blocks to a T junction at Sherman Avenue. Go right onto Sherman. Straight ahead is the channel and you will be forced to take a left onto Conner Way. You’re at the park.
At the north end of the park at the corner where Sherman turns onto Conner is the boat launch and dock. There is a small parking area on the south side of Sherman for vehicles with boat trailers to use after launching. I didn’t see any signs saying there is a boat launch fee, but I didn’t confirm that it’s free.
After you turn left onto Conner the main section of the park is on your right. Angled parking spaces line the park along most of its length. There are two handicap spaces at the south end.
Because of the angle of the spaces you’ll need to keep heading south on Conner Way after backing out to leave when done at the park. Just south of the park is a wide spot where a road meets Conner on your left and you can turn around there or use the parking lot of the boat business on the right. The site plan indicates a real turnaround might eventually be installed at the intersection.
The park is primarily just a scenic picnic spot. Several picnic tables are scattered along the length and each table has its own charcoal grill on a stand. From the tables you get a front row view of the channel and boats of all kinds passing by. Overhead is the structure of the Rainbow Bridge.
At the south end of the park is a children’s play area. There are no traditional pieces of playground equipment. All the play structures are sculptures, including a salmon slide like the one at Carkeek Park in Seattle.
Across the street are stairs that lead up to Pioneer Park. Pioneer Park fills the hill above that supports this side of the Rainbow Bridge. The park is mostly woods, with a small dirt parking lot and an old picnic shelter.
Waterfront Park in La Conner is essentially just a small town park, so not one most people from outside the area would make a point of visiting. But if you end up in town for the restaurants or art galleries you might want to check it out. It’s a good spot to get away from tourist crowds on a nice day while still being able to enjoy the channel.
Things to Know
Dawn to dusk.
Several picnic tables.
No benches, but you can sit on the railings in front of the parking spaces.
When I was here there was only a small porta potty across the street near the the stairs to Pioneer Park. The original plans called for a permanent bathroom, so one might be installed in the future.
Several angled spaces along Conner Way in two sections. Two handicap spaces at the south end near the play area.
The amount of parking is quite adequate for the small size of park and on an average day there’s probably no trouble getting a space. (Three other cars were parked when I was here in March.) But my guess is that the limited spots probably do fill up sometimes on warm weekends and maybe some summer weekday evenings.
The park seems to be quite popular with the locals. I was here in the early afternoon on a sunny weekday in March. The temperature was in the mid to upper 50s. About five other people were in the park when I arrived and others came before I left.
With that to go by, my guess is the park gets used regularly all throughout the year and that you’d only have a good chance of having the place to yourself for an extended period of time in poor weather. I’m also guessing that in warm weather, especially in the summer, the park fills up at times.
Downtown La Conner.
Rainbow Bridge, boats, occasionally bald eagles.
Best light: morning, but probably not early because of the hill to the east.