The name Anacortes comes from Anna Curtis, the maiden name of early settler Amos Bowman's wife. The population was 14,557 at the 2000 census. It is one of two principal cities of and included in the Mount Vernon-Anacortes Metropolitan Statistical Area.
There is a Washington State Ferries dock that serves Lopez Island, Shaw Island, Orcas Island, and San Juan Island, as well as Victoria, British Columbia (via Sidney, British Columbia) on Vancouver Island. There is also a Skagit County-operated ferry dock that serves Guemes Island.
Anacortes is on Fidalgo Island. It is surrounded by the north Puget Sound and San Juan Islands on three sides, and by the Swinomish Channel and the flats of Skagit Valley to the east. The weather is milder than other areas of the Pacific Northwest, because it lies within the Olympic Mountain rain shadow. Fidalgo Island gets 21" of rain per year, only half as much as Seattle.
Anacortes is a popular destination for boaters and those traveling on to the San Juan Islands. The city maintains a 220-acre (0.89 km2) city park on the northwestern end of Fidalgo Island called Washington Park. This park features camping, boat launching, and majestic views of the San Juan Islands. The most prominent view is of Cypress Island.