Island Getaway: a Weekend on Whidbey
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As a Seattleite, sometimes you need to get away from the hustle and bustle of the city and don’t want to spend hours in transit. Also, as a visitor to Seattle, you’ll want to fully experience the natural beauty of the Pacific Northwest, which means getting outside of the city. Here are some recommendations for Whidbey Island, a short trip and a world away from Seattle.
Washington state – where I live – has so much nature that’s nearby, so it’s easy to get away! You can head to the mountains or to the sea. I enjoy spending time on Whidbey Island since there is plenty to do and its’s easy to get there. Whidbey Island is fairly large: it’s 37 miles long and 10 miles wide and has a few different towns. Getting there involves a short drive to north of Seattle (about 30 miles) and taking a 20-minute ferry. And then voila! You’re right in the middle of island life, on island time, and surrounded by so much natural beauty!
While there are ample lodging options, we usually stay in Langley, a cute town with water views and plenty of galleries, places to eat, etc. Coupeville is another cute town on Whidbey. Bayview is yet another -- it's the smallest but has a couple cafes and a plant nursery. We usually stay at a vacation rental so we can cook -- we come here for a swim race I do every year and I have a pre-race dinner ritual.
If you are looking to travel much farther away, check out my post on how to select an international bike tour.
Experience nature and all its beauty at Deception Pass:
Deception Pass is beautiful. If you’re short on time, you can walk across the bridge and admire the views. If you have more time, you can enjoy a hike in Deception Pass State Park.
Here’s an overview of Deception Pass and its famous bridge from tourism website: "Curving gracefully between Fidalgo and Whidbey Islands, it crowns the most visited state park in Washington. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1982, this bridge is recognized for its engineering and the elegant architecture that complements the scenic and geologic wonder of Deception Pass." More info is here.
Art galleries and art in Langley:
Take time to smell the roses and explore art galleries.
The Rob Schouten gallery has a wide range of art and is located in a building that dates back to 1923. See more here.
Callahan’s Firehouse Studio and Gallery specializes in glass-blowing and is located in a fun setting inside a restored firehouse. You can often watch them blowing glass. Find more info here.
Food and drink:
There are plenty of places to get your coffee fix or enjoy a meal.
For coffee, try the Useless Bay Coffee Co. in Langley
For bunch or lunch, try The Braeburn in Langley, which recently underwent a complete remodel.
For creative cooking in a charming spot, have lunch or dinner in Coupeville at the Oystercatcher. Their Penn Cove mussels are phenomenal and they also make their bread too.
Try farm-to-table dining at the Orchard Kitchen in Bayview. This is on my list of places to try.
Visit a small distillery:
Whidbey Island Distillery was recently featured in the Seattle Times, so we figured it was worth checking out. This distillery makes a variety fruit of liqueurs and has racked up a few awards. It is a pretty small operation but fun to visit and taste their different liqueurs. I use the blackberry liqueur as a mixer with Pimm's and ginger beer. It would probably be great on ice cream too.
For a taste of pastoral life, visit Greenbank Farm:
This place is still operating as a farm and there are also gardens, a restaurant famous for its pies, galleries, and more. Greenbank Farm is located at the narrowest spot on Whidbey Island.
Visitor information for Whidbey and Camano Islands:
The tourism bureau for Whidbey and Camano Islands has a good website with lots of information. Get the scoop here.
Ferry from Mukilteo to Whidbey:
While getting from Seattle to the San Juan Islands requires a longer drive and a ferry reservation, getting to Whidbey is a lot less complex. The WSDOT app is useful as it has ferry schedules and the number of spots left on the next vessel about to sail. (“WSDOT” = the Washington State Department of Transportation.) Ferry info is on the WSDOT website here.
Where to stay:
There are many vacation rentals all over Whidbey; check one of the many websites that offers these. In terms of location, you can stay in one of the towns (e.g. Langley, Coupeville, Bayview) or farther afield. If you’re looking for a full-service hotel, the Inn at Langley is a good option as they have a nice restaurant and a spa and wonderful views of Puget Sound.
Happy travels! If anyone has tried the farm-to-table dining at the Orchard Kitchen, drop me a line.