The Great Northern Route


Busy Everett (pop. 111,262) 30 mi (48 km) north of downtown Seattle via the I-5 freeway (or the older, funkier Hwy-99, at the west end of transcontinental US-2), is a thoroughly blue-collar place that feels a lot farther from Seattle’s high-tech flash than the mere half hour it is. A heavy industry center economically dependent on two of the largest livelihoods in the Pacific Northwest—wood products and aircraft manufacturing—Everett has a few large turn-of-the-20th-century mansions overlooking the all-business waterfront, home port to the aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln, the ship on which George W. Bush made his “Mission Accomplished” speech during the Iraq War. The old-fashioned downtown, a half-mile (0.8 km) west of I-5 around Hewitt and Colby Avenues, has some neat antiques and junk shops, plus a dozen or so roughneck bars and taverns around the Historic Everett Theatre (2911 Colby Ave.). For milk shakes or great fish ’n’ chips, stop by Ray’s Drive-In (1401 Broadway, 425/252-3411), less than two miles north of downtown.

Everett’s one big tourist draw is the huge Boeing assembly plant on the southwest edge of town, well-marked from I-5 exit 189, at the west end of Hwy-526. The factory, where they make some of the world’s biggest planes—747s and 787 Dreamliners—is worth a look if only for the 11-story quarter-mile-long building, the largest in the world by volume. The on-site Future of Flight Aviation Center and Boeing Tour (800/464-1476, 8am-7pm daily summer, $27) offers tours that leave on the hour 9am-5pm in summer.

US-2 leaves Everett on Hewitt Avenue, which crosses I-5 then takes a historic old drawbridge over the Snohomish River before winding for a half-dozen miles (9.6 km) across low-lying fields toward the town of Snohomish.


Though they’re spreading fast, Seattle’s suburbs haven’t yet reached the tidy Victorian town of Snohomish (pop. 10,185), a century-old former logging center that lines the north bank of the Snohomish River, 25 mi (40 km) upstream from Puget Sound. Six blocks of well-preserved warehouses and commercial buildings stand along 1st Street, across the river from a whining old sawmill, while the blocks above hold dozens of charming homes and quite a few impressively steepled churches. One of these old homes has been restored and now houses the Blackman House Museum (118 Ave. B, 360/568-5235, noon-3pm Sat.-Sun. by donation). The museum features period-style furnishings and displays on the town’s early history. The range of antiques shops, taverns, and cafés in the historic center has made Snohomish a popular day trip from Seattle. Pastry fans come here for the fantastic apple, pecan, cherry, and other slices available at the Snohomish Pie Company (915 1st St., 360/568-3589), while beer-drinkers converge upon Fred’s Rivertown Alehouse (1114 1st St., 360/568-5820), on the river. Snohomish has maintained an admirable balance of history and commerce and is well worth a short stop if you’re passing by.

Around Snohomish, the old US-2 road has been replaced by a four-lane freeway that loops around to the north, so follow signs for the “Historic Center.”

Related Travel Maps

Map of the Great Northern through Washington.
Map of the Great Northern through Washington.
Washington State
Washington State

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