View from Deception Pass Bridge
How about a weekend getaway to Whidbey Island for your next travel adventure?
Lucky those of us who live in the beautiful Pacific Northwest. When the weather clouds part long enough to reveal clear blue skies, we can head to a nearby island for the perfect coastal getaway. Unless, of course, you already live on one and can simply hop to another one nearby.
While technically not one of the popular San Juan Islands’ archipelago north of Seattle, Whidbey Island lies close enough to often be mistaken as one. Stretching from north to south, the island covers an area forty-five miles long and up to 10 miles wide. Whether it ranks as the longest island in the contiguous United States remains a matter of some dispute among purists. Regardless, few would question Whidbey’s wild beauty, spellbinding views or launchpad to year-round adventures.
Here’s how to make the most of your weekend getaway to Whidbey Island:
Take a Ferry.
Aboard the Mukilteo-Clinton Washington State Ferry
Travelers have the option of driving across the Deception Pass Bridge from Anacortes at the north end or catching the Clinton-Mukilteo Washington State ferry that serves the south end.
While no visit to Whidbey Island would be complete without a drive across Deception Pass Bridge, arriving by ferry helps set the mood for the easy living you’re sure to enjoy over the next couple of days. The 15-20 minute ride is just enough time to view spellbinding scenery, kick back and experience how refreshing it feels to leave your cares behind. So go ahead and set your phone to “island time.” Better yet, put that phone away as the first step in your digital detox weekend.
Travel Tip: Be prepared for long wait times for the ferry during the summer high season, however. To minimize the lines and wait times, consider walking on if you can arrange transportation on the island, buy your tickets online, and/or travel early in the day or late at night.
For ferry schedule information, visit Washington State Ferries.
Visit Langley, “Village by the Sea.”
Begin your weekend getaway to Whidbey island with a stop by the sea in downtown Langley, a friendly community featuring boutique shops, fine restaurants, and art galleries. Stroll the walkways, pick up an espresso and pastry at Useless Bay Coffee Company, or order a picnic to go from The Star Store Market & Deli.
Shop if you must – and you must – at any one of several unique gift galleries: for just the right book, Moonraker Books; artworks, Rob Schouten Gallery, Callahan’s Firehouse Glass; home decor, Artisan Crafted Home, Edit, Wish by the Sea; chocolate, Sweet Mona’s Chocolate Boutique, Chocolate Flower Farm; handicrafts, Music for the Eyes; and clothing, Fair Trade Outfitters.
Looking for Whales with Boy and Dog
What can be more endearing than a village that celebrates whale watching with its own springtime “Welcome the Whales Festival” as gray whales make their annual passage to Alaska and Canada? You can keep an eye out for whales yourself on the waterfront side of Front Street. Peer out at Puget Sound next to the “Boy and Dog” sculpture designed by artist Georgia Gerber. If you do sight a whale, wake the community by ringing the bell at Whale Bell Park.
Learn more about whale watching with a visit to the Langley Whale Center.
For more information, go to VisitLangley.com.
Have a Slice of Pie at Greenbank Farm.
Jan Gunn at Whidbey Island Pies Café
For some locals and visitors, Greenbank Farm’s the place to go for endless water vistas, dog-friendly hiking trails, art galleries, and master gardens. But for pie lovers like myself, Whidbey Pies Café takes top billing. Among my favorites? How about marionberry, rhubarb, or triple berry for starters? But let’s not leave out the salted caramel apple or huckleberry. Sigh. So many Whidbey pies, so little room to digest – at least in one sitting – which is why I make a point of stopping by each time I head to Whidbey Island. The good news is you can always purchase a pie (or two) to go.
For more mouth-watering news about Whidbey Island Pies, see my previous post here.
Travel Tip: Do walk the easy trails for unforgettable 360-degree views of the region. Puget Sound and the Olympics lie to the west while Camano Island, the Cascades, and Saratoga Passage lie to the east.
Discover Ebey’s Landing National Historic Reserve.
Beauty Abounds at Ebey’s Landing National Historical Reserve
Boundless beauty awaits visitors to Ebey’s Landing National Historical Reserve. From beach walks to nature hikes, from wildlife sightings to whale watching, from fishing to sailing, Ebey’s Landing offers the ultimate respite when “the world is too much with us,” as Wordsworth knew too well.
The Reserve includes Fort Casey, Ebey’s Landing, and Fort Ebey State Parks. In 2018 the 19,333-acre Reserve celebrated its 40th anniversary. Thanks to concerned citizens, numerous volunteers, and creative, thoughtful stewardship, the Reserve provides a lesson in protection and preservation of nature’s finest gifts.
Explore Historic Coupeville.
Within Ebey’s Landing National Historical Reserve, the historic town of Coupeville in Penn Cove is noteworthy for its claim to fame as Washington State’s second-oldest town. Its famed red building at the end of the pier is an eye-catcher from land and water. Stroll the wooden walkways, rent a kayak, or shop for souvenirs at the gift shop.
For lunch or dinner, Christopher’s on Whidbey is a local favorite. Additional favorite eateries include Ciao, Front Street Grill, Penn Cove Brewing, The OysterCatcher, Toby’s Tavern and Tyee Restaurant & Lounge. You won’t go hungry in Coupeville!
When dining in Coupeville, expect to find plenty of fresh shellfish on your dining menu. That’s because Penn Cove Shellfish is one of the largest sustainable farmed shellfish producers in the United States. Fresh from the waters of Penn Cove, diners can savor mussels, Manila clams, and over 27 varieties of Pacific Oysters.
Travel Tip: Place an order of Penn Cove mussels, clams or oysters to sample the fresh shellfish bounty of Whidbey Island.
Fly a Flight Simulator.
Take a Turn on the PBY Flight Simulator
The PBY – Naval Air Museum located in Oak Harbor takes you to the north end of Whidbey Island. An amphibious patrol bomber, the PBY was used to perform rescues and to search for enemy vessels during World War II, especially in coastal areas. The museum honors those who flew PBYs as well as service personnel from Naval Air Station Whidbey Island.
For an overview of the history of Oak Harbor and Whidbey Island, tour the museum’s artifacts and interactive exhibits. Take the opportunity to pause and reflect on the tremendous sacrifices endured by war veterans in order to preserve the fundamental tenets of U.S. American freedom and democracy.
Travel Tip: Engage the volunteer docents on your tour to learn fascinating facts about service personnel, flight equipment, and memorabilia. For sure experience a flight on the PBY in one of two simulators at the museum.
Drive Deception Pass Bridge.
Deception Pass Bridge
Deception Pass Bridge towers 17 stories above the turbulent waters below. The bridge is noted for its unparalleled views, elegant engineering design, and pragmatic solution to connecting three neighboring islands: Whidbey, Pass Island, and Fidalgo. The two-lane bridge is framed by giant cedar trees within the Deception Pass State Park and the Olympic Mountains to the west.
Travel Tip: Park your car on either end of the bridge to walk across and snap photos of the spectacular landscape. Hike below to marvel at the challenge its construction posed to engineers and to appreciate the beauty of its architecture.
Enjoy your weekend getaway on Whidbey Island. Wander on!
Have you visited Whidbey Island? What’s your favorite Whidbey experience?
Next stop: Camano Island, “the Easy Island” for relaxing getaways.