Weekend Getaway: Whidbey Island, WA


The wildlife, the golden hour (now I see what a true golden hour actually is!), the endless views of cliffsides meeting the ocean, the Penn Cove mussels… oh, I could go on!

I’m talking about Whidbey Island. Earlier this summer, we kicked off our annual “Summer out of a Suitcase” by heading to the Pacific Northwest to visit two sets of friends. We started in Portland, Oregon, and then took a train from Portland to Seattle to meet my best friend (since second grade!), her husband, and their sweet little boy. We then caravanned to Whidbey Island, off the Washington Coast for a week-long vacation. Being an ocean lover, I had imagined I would love exploring this corner of the U.S. However, I was blown away by how beautiful and untouched it all was. Here are a few notes and recommendations on where to eat, stay and play for anyone wanting to re-create their own Whidbey Island trip. I highly recommend exploring this area if you are a family who loves nature and adventure and enjoy exploring the lesser-traveled destinations.  

Whidbey Island is made up of several small quaint towns. We stayed in Coupeville and chose this for its central location on the island, and its surrounding historic nature reserve (apparently Coupeville is the second oldest town in the state of Washington!) which meant lots of hikes, views, parks, beaches, and more to explore. 

We ate:

  • Fresh Penn Cove mussels everyday! You can read about the discovery and uniqueness of these delicious delicacies here. I loved that we were eating them as fresh as you could get! 
  • Oyster Catcher – A standout place that you must try if you go to Whidbey Island and want a delicately crafted meal. Super artisan and unique creations- we had pea sorbet as palate cleansers, oysters with a hazelnut chutney, roasted sunflowers, ceviche and more. And the staff were so friendly considering we had very tiny guests with us. I’d recommend making a reservation.
  • Hot Dogs at Coupe’s Last Stand – This hot dog stand is right in front of the Coupeville Wharf and made for a nice picnic on our first day. They had kielbasa and polish sausage options too.
  • We ran out of time but would have loved to experience Orchard Kitchen which looked amazing.
  • Baked goods and coffee from Useless Bay Coffee Shop in Langley.

Note: We stopped in a local grocery store and bought items for picnics and breakfast. While there is great food on the island, there’s not a ton of varied options, the hours of restaurants can be tricky, and the popular places fill up. Plus with all the wonderful views, relaxed outdoor meals seemed the obvious best choice. 🙂

We Explored:

  • Rosario Beach at Deception Pass – such a beautiful bridge with a beautiful view. Our first adventure of this leg of our trip was heading to Rosario Beach to check out the tide pools. We spent hours looking for seals and collecting stones.
  • Ebey’s Landing – Likely my favorite outing was the long walk we did here along the bluff, with open fields to our left and views of the Puget Sound to our right. A great fairly flat hike for a sunny day.
  • Fort Casey – If you love history like my husband, there’s an old light house here you can climb up, as well as a huge fort to explore, and a beach at the base with loads of drift wood for kids to play on.
  • Pelican Bay Books  in Anacorters (which is technically on Fidalgo Island). I’m a sucker for a good used bookstore and I could have spent hours in this one. There’s a coffee shop in here too which was helpful for those of us still adjusting to the time zone. The exposed wood walls and shelves made me feel like I was in a cozy log cabin.
  • Langley (mentioned earlier) is a charming little town on Whidbey with lots of little shops and art galleries.

We stayed here:

While I usually like to find a local hotel or bed and breakfast, we decided on this simple vacation rental and were so happy with it. Its garden was so beautiful to look at every day and we were next door to the small downtown area and could see the water from just outside the driveway. It fit our family of 5 just fine with the two oldest sharing the upstairs and the baby tucked in the pack and play in the closet. However, we’ve heard wonderful things and are eager to check Captain Whidbey’s out next time we come!

Getting to and from Whidbey Island:

We were coming from Portland via the Amtrak Cascades line (highly recommend  a trip favorite!), then drove and caught the Mukilteo Ferry to Whidbey. On our way out of Whidbey en route to Seattle, we took at note from Courtney’s Somewhere Slower post and enjoyed a long scenic drive through Skagit County, exploring the sweetest little creative town, Edison and Mount Vernon, where we picked up Dungeness crab and other goodies from Snowgoose Produce.

Perhaps one of the best overall things about being on Whidbey was just that- being on the island and enjoying its natural state and sharing that with my family. The pastel-colored stones collected at the beaches, the deer that aren’t scared of humans at all and just mosey about the island, the cherry trees, the seal pups... It was so great just to be there. In fact,  more than once, we opted out of naps to be able to just drive around and explore the island. It’s all very accessible. And a highlight for me personally, was taking a dip in the Puget Sound. I have this little running bucket list of sorts where I like to swim in as many bodies of water as possible. While it was understandably too cold for the rest of our group, I’m excited to add the Puget Sound to my  list of waters along with the Red Sea, the Aegean, the Caribbean and a handful of others! Definitely keep this area on your radar. We will certainly be back!

Thanks for reading,




Comments (4)

Annie from Brimful
September 16, 2019

Beautiful photos! Whidbey Island is indeed one of the prettiest places I’ve ever visited. And for any of your readers who are military, the Naval base right in Oak Harbor is a great place to stay. ✨✨✨

Addie in North Carolina
September 17, 2019

Thanks Annie, it’s such a photogenic place I just wanted to capture it all! Oh this is good to know about the naval base. Xx

September 17, 2019

What a wonderful article, I can’t wait to visit one day!!

Addie Ladner
September 18, 2019

Keta-we have quite the list going now 😉

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