Whidbey Island, located approximately north of Seattle and sandwiched between the mainland and the Olympic Peninsula, is a huge island. It’s Washington’s biggest island, and the Puget Sound region’s historical and cultural significance is immense. It’s also a favorite weekend getaway for the Seattle area, with plenty of state parks, lovely stores, and breathtaking sunset vistas. In this article, we are going to review some exciting things to do in Whidbey Island in 2022.
Whidbey Island may be reached by boat or car. Visitors from Seattle may take the ferry from Mukilteo to the island’s south shore for a short voyage across the lake. The alternative option is to take the boat from Port Townsend to Coupeville. The renowned Deception Pass Bridge links the island’s northside to Fidalgo Island and the mainland for those who like to drive.
When visiting, consider slowing down your pace in either direction. Despite its closeness to big cities, the island maintains a relaxed atmosphere throughout the day. The slower pace is particularly noticeable in the island’s southern half, south of Naval Air Station Whidbey Island and Oak Harbor. Expect to come across farm stalls, stylish stores, and a sensation of getting away from it all. With this list of the best things to do on Whidbey Island, you can plan your next unforgettable weekend vacation.
1. Visit the National Historical Reserve at Ebey’s Landing.
Whidbey Island is one of the nation’s biggest historic districts, as well as the country’s only National Historic Reserve. It was established in 1978 to safeguard roughly 17,500 acres of culturally valuable property on Central Whidbey Island. Before attracting European migrants searching for new homes in Puget Sound, the region was home to a thriving native population.
Ebey’s Landing National Historical Reserve is a mix of private and public property, unlike other National Park units. Three Washington State Parks are located along the western coast: Fort Ebey, Ebey’s Landing, and Fort Casey.
All of these outdoor places provide historical information as well as stunning views of Puget Sound. They are also ideal locations for outdoor activities such as hiking, fishing, and camping. While visiting all three state parks on a weekend vacation is worthwhile, they represent just a tiny portion of the greater reserve.
Coupeville, a historic town, is included inside the reserve. This coastal area, which originates from the 1850s, is located on Penn Cove. Visitors may meander around the attractive old downtown center, which is packed with contemporary businesses, or visit the Island County Historical Museum to learn more about the region. A trip along the lengthy pier leading to the Coupeville Wharf is also recommended.
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2. Take a trip to Deception Pass State Park.
Deception Pass State Park, located on the northern extremity of Whidbey Island and the southern tip of Fidalgo Island, is one of Washington’s greatest state parks. The magnificent Deception Pass Bridge, which stands 180 feet above the whirling waters of Deception Pass, is part of this land.
At Deception Pass, the number of activities and scenery to explore is overwhelming. The park is almost 4,000 acres in size and has 14 kilometers of ocean beachfront. The rich vegetation, numerous tidal pools, and a picturesque fleet of boats fishing offshore all contribute to this dynamic scene. There are also 38 miles of hiking paths to explore throughout the park.
The best way to get the most out of a visit to Deception Pass State Park is to stay the night. The nearest hotels are at Oak Harbor, to the south, and Anacortes, to the north. However, camping at any of the 300 accessible campsites provides the finest experience. These campsites are divided between tent sites and RV sites with partial hookups in three distinct parks.
Every year, around two million people visit Deception Pass State Park, with the majority of these visitors occurring during the summer months. If you want to escape the worst of the traffic, come during the week rather than the weekend, and make reservations if you want to camp at Deception Pass during the summer.
3. Whidbey Island Shopping and Dining
Whidbey Island’s cultural scene is incentive enough to come. The island is divided into numerous charming settlements, each with its own distinct flavor and way of life. These towns are located on the island’s southern half, south of Oak Harbor, which is home to Naval Air Station Whidbey Island.
Coupeville, Greenbank, and Langley are three villages to visit for a taste of the local flavor. The Oystercatcher in Coupeville, for example, tempts with some of Puget Sound’s tastiest feasts. Local shops provide everything from household products to marine fashion in these lovely towns.
Oak Harbor, on the island’s north end, also has various shopping and dining options. With a population of over 20,000 people, the Air Force Station attracts more large box stores. Excellent local jewels like Sea bolt’s Smokehouse and Frasers Gourmet Hideaway are easy to come by.
4. Visit Fort Casey Historical State Park and go back in time.
Fort Casey is located on the island’s northern tip, near the Coupeville ferry port. It was built in the late 1800s as part of the “Triangle of Fire” to defend the open waters of the Puget Sound entrance. Fort Worden near Port Townsend and Fort Flagler on Marrowstone Island completed the triangle.
Fort Casey, like its contemporaries, is now an interesting state park available to the public. The ability to investigate its decommissioned batteries is one of the numerous reasons to come. These concrete encampments overlooking the lake are open to the public for tours. It’s simpler to visualize the busy fort in its peak in the early 1900s this way.
At Fort Casey, near the Coupeville ferry station, there is also a campsite. These campgrounds are ideal for visitors who arrive late on the island. However, the 22 standard and 13 partial-hookup sites are popular with visitors searching for a cheap place to stay on Whidbey Island.
Make a point of seeing the Admiralty Head Lighthouse, which is located north of the batteries. The first lighthouse was established in 1861, and the current lighthouse was completed in 1903. During the summer, lighthouse excursions are provided.
5. Get Some Fresh Fruit and Vegetables
Many individuals come to Whidbey Island in search of something organic. Below Oak Harbor, the whole southern half of the island offers a variety of agricultural prospects. Every day of the year, there’s something new to try, from farmers markets to farm stands to family farms.
Farmers markets are held on the island on Fridays and Sundays from April through September. The Bayview Market and the South Whidbey Tilth Farmers Market are both located in Langley. These two runs on Saturday and Sunday, respectively, and are always packed.
On Whidbey Island, farm stands are common along the route. These seasonal stands may be found using maps and other tools. Several area farms now provide Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) boxes delivered at weekly intervals for longer stays.
6. Visit Fort Ebey State Park for a Sunset
Fort Ebey is a former military installation that has been part of the Washington State Park system since 1942. It was one of the final defenses erected on Whidbey Island and is located near Ebey’s Landing on the west side of the island. It is now part of the Ebey’s Landing National Historical Reserve, which is significantly bigger.
Many outdoor enthusiasts will like Fort Ebey State Park. Over 25 miles of hiking and bike trails run alongside the nearby Kettle Trails, which are administered by Island County Parks. These pathways go through a dense rhododendron forest with stunning views of the seashore.
Fort Ebey has about 50 campsites for overnight visitors. And staying the night is the ideal way to see another feature of Fort Ebey: its spectacular sunsets. At the end of the day, go over to the park’s lone gun battery for one of the greatest vistas.
7. Take your dog to Double Bluff Beach
Double Bluff Beach is located on Whidbey Island’s southern tip, a few miles south of Freeland. It’s a lovely place to visit for anybody. Even yet, being one of Whidbey’s greatest off-leash dog parks, canine friends are the ones who seem to appreciate the scenery the most.
Double Bluff Beach has little parking and often fills up on summer weekends. To guarantee a place, go early in the morning. A variety of hills and private land border the park. When visiting, be remembered to follow the property marks.
8. Visit Joseph Whidbey State Park for a day trip.
Joseph Whidbey State Park is a modest, 200-acre park with a spectacular vista. It’s on the west side of the island, just south of Naval Air Station Whidbey Island, with a view of the Juan de Fuca Strait. With nearly 3,000 feet of beachfront, the park is well-known for its sea vistas.
This day-use park is also well-known for beachcombing and easy hiking. A half-mile walk runs through the park’s interior section, and there are two big grassy areas for lawn sports and picnicking. Although parking becomes more difficult during a beautiful sunset, the park is seldom overcrowded.
9. Take a walk around Meerkerk Gardens to see the Rhododendrons.
On the southern side of the island, near the village of Greenbank, lies this magnificent botanical garden. It includes 12 acres of meticulously planted gardens, as well as Ann and Max Meerkerk’s original “garden rooms.”
The gardens are surrounded by 43 acres of second-growth woodland, providing the greatest in natural landscaping. The gardens are open every day of the year and entrance is inexpensive. Something is constantly in flower, but summer is perhaps the most colorful season to visit.
10. Visit the state park on South Whidbey Island.
This 381-acre day-use state park is a terrific place to get in touch with the island’s untamed wildlife. Greenbank and Freeland are the nearest villages to the park, which is about a 12-mile drive from the Coupeville ferry station.
South Whidbey Island has less visitors than other state parks like as Fort Casey and Fort Ebey, making it a popular alternative for people wishing to explore on their own. A few paths wind their way through the region, one of which leads to a sandy and rocky beach. Explorers may walk along the coast in either direction.
South Whidbey is also a great place to have a picnic. Several tables extend from the main parking lot, providing secluded sanctuaries amid the towering trees.
11. Naval Air Museum of the Pacific Northwest
The Pacific Northwest Naval Air Museum is three miles from Naval Air Station Whidbey Island in Oak Harbor (NAS Whidbey Island). The museum honors and displays the NAS’s history, particularly the motivation for its founding in 1942.
The 4,700-square-foot museum is open to the public for viewing and walking around. Exhibits cover a wide range of wars in which NAS Whidbey Island was engaged, from World War II to Afghanistan. The collection includes a PBY-Catalina 5A warplane, which is stationed across the street from this renowned tourist site.
12. Attend a festival on Whidbey Island
Suppose the breathtaking beauty and historic treasures of Whidbey Island aren’t enough to get you to come. As a result, the island holds a number of events throughout the year. Every month brings a unique cause to rejoice, from kite-flying extravaganzas to colorful musical performances.
The Whidbey Island Film Festival kicks off the year in January. Springtime also brings family-friendly events such as Musselfest, St. Patrick’s Day parades, and the Clinton Easter Egg Hunt. Beginning with the Coupeville Memorial Day Parade, summer festivities take place almost every weekend. The Whidbey Island Fair, Whidbey Island Race Week, and the Whidbey Island Music Festival are all held in July, making it the busiest month.
Keep these in mind and get the most out of your tour to the Whidbey Island in 2022. Harvest celebrations give way to Halloween-themed festivities throughout the fall, ensuring that the enjoyment never stops. The year ends with Christmas events, including the Holly Jolly Parade in Langley, which is held only when there is snow on the ground.