View of Puget Sound, Olympics, Mt. Baker, ferries, and trains
Sunset Avenue has changed a lot since I lived in Edmonds in the 1970s. Back then it was mostly like any other town street, except it had a great view. Now there are benches, a picnic table, a pedestrian/bike lane, added parking, and most of the street is now one-way.
If you are arriving from any direction except from the ferry dock/Brackett’s Landing you want to enter Sunset Avenue from Main Street. (See the note below about getting here from Brackett’s.) The first two blocks of Sunset is a two-way street. After that Sunset is one-way going north.
After Sunset becomes one-way there is a stretch of angled parking. Beyond that, all the way to the north end, it’s parallel parking. Between the west street curb and the parking lane is a pedestrian/bike lane, with a painted double yellow line dividing it from vehicles. So you park in the street along the line, not next to the curb.
At the south end of the strip is a cluster of benches, and from here you get a good view of the ferry terminal and part of Brackett’s Landing. You get a very nice view of the Olympics and Mt. Baker along the entire length of the strip.
Between the south and north ends of the strip the low bluff is lined with plantings, with only a few benches and open spots in the vegetation where you can step out of the pedestrian lane to get out of the way of walkers and runners.
About halfway along the viewpoint the street heads down a slight slope. Beyond here is where you get the best view of the railroad tracks if watching trains is your thing. The bank of the bluff blocks your view of the tracks along the south end of the strip, so you can only see the tops of rail cars going by.
At the north end of Sunset is a narrow grass strip with several benches and a picnic table.
As the name implies, Sunset Avenue is a great place for watching sunsets. However, the best sunset viewing from here is in the summer half of the year. During the winter the sun sets behind the ferry terminal pedestrian ramp, so it’s not as visually appealing, especially if you plan to snap some photos. You’re better off going to Marina Beach or out on the pier at Olympic Beach for sunset in winter.
In addition to summer sunsets, this is also a nice place to stop for a quick view of morning light on the snow-covered Olympics in winter and to watch storms at any time of year. In general, I think the view is best from the north half of the avenue. The ferry terminal isn’t as much in the way of the Olympics and sunsets.
Sunset Avenue isn’t interesting enough on it’s own for most non-locals to go out of their way to visit specifically, but my coverage of the Edmonds waterfront would not have been complete without including this viewpoint. If you’re already in the area you might want to drive by and enjoy the view as part of your outing.
Things to Know
8 am to 10 pm
Benches along the length of the street, with most of them at the south and north ends.
One picnic table near the north end.
Public bathrooms are available in the nearby Brackett’s Landing and Olympic Beach parks.
Street parking along the length of Sunset Avenue on the west side of the street only.
Public parking is limited to 2 hours and prohibited between 10 pm and 8 am.
Handicap spaces are located in 2 or 3 areas.
There’s usually no trouble finding a parking spot. The south end tends to fill up first due to people parking there and walking into the downtown business district or to the Edmonds Marine Walkway and beach parks. If that area is full, keep going north and you’ll likely find a spot in the middle or near the north end. An especially nice sunset in warmer weather can occasionally make finding parking more difficult.
The Sunset Avenue viewpoint is primarily visited by locals. The pedestrian lane gets lots of use by people out walking their dogs, pushing baby strollers, and going for a run.
Aside from those passing through in the pedestrian lane, you can usually expect to see a smattering of other people here on a typical day. If it’s a particularly nice day or looks like it will be a good sunset you can expect a lot of people to show up and the benches to fill.
Ferries, trains, sunsets, mountains.
Best light: morning, summer sunsets.
Brackett’s Landing, Olympic Beach and pier, Marina Beach, Edmonds Marsh, ferry ride, dining at local restaurants.
– To get to Sunset Avenue directly from the ferry terminal or Brackett’s Landing you have to use a looping route because you can’t make a left turn onto Sunset from Main Street.
On Main Street head east, past Sunset, to 2nd Avenue. Turn left onto 2nd Avenue. Take the first left onto Bell Street. Go two blocks and turn right onto Sunset Avenue.
– After you get to the north end of Sunset the street turns to the right. Follow it and you will come to a stop sign at 3rd Avenue.
From here you can head east up out of downtown Edmonds, or turn right onto 3rd to get back to Main Street and Highway 104.
If you’re coming from outside the surrounding area there is a best way to get to Sunset Avenue. If you’re arriving from the north it looks out of the way to use this route, but trust me, this is much easier than driving through congested Lynnwood traffic with all the stop lights. The speed limit is 40 mph for at least half the distance using this route.
From I-5 take the Highway 104 exit for the Edmonds ferry and head west.
Follow the highway, pass under Hwy 99, and keep going for quite a distance. Once you pass straight through a major intersection with shopping centers stay in the right lane and look for the ferry signs.
As you start to head down the hill the highway will split in two and you want the right branch as if you’re taking the ferry.
After the road curves around and flattens out you will come to a traffic light. Go straight through. The road you’re on becomes Sunset Avenue.
The next traffic light is at Main Street. Go straight through and after a block you will see the first park benches on your left.
If a ferry is loading or unloading you might be held up at the Main Street traffic light for a while.