The Great Northern Route

Thirty-odd miles north of downtown Seattle via the I-5 freeway or the older, funkier Hwy-99, at the west end of transcontinental US-2, busy Everett (pop. 103,109) 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 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 or 360/756-0086, daily 8am-5:30pm, $15-25) 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 across low-lying fields toward the town of Snohomish.