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Itching to stretch your legs on an island far away from the chaotic city? Want to experience fresh air for even a few days? Well, look no further than the good old Whidbey Island. One of the largest islands in the United States, Whidbey Island is about a good 30 miles north of Seattle.
Whidbey Island is only about 37 miles from head to toe and has a width of 1.5 to 10 miles, depending on where you measure from. With a total area of just 168 square miles, it is the 40th largest island in the United States. Whidbey Island has a resident count of 69, 480 according to the 2010 census, but something tells me you might find more people living there when you actually arrive.
Before European colonization, Whidbey Island was occupied by the Lower Skagit, Swinomish, and other Native American tribes that you would expect to find over there. Captain George Vancouver explored the island in its totality in 1972, and well, the rest, as they say, is history.
According to climate experts, Whidbey Island lies partially in the rain shadow of the Olympic Mountain Range to the west and experiences a wide variety of climate zones. This can be well observed by the rainfall, being wettest in the south and driest in the central areas of Coupeville, with average rainfall being 20 to 22 inches. It again turns moist as we move north, with an average rainfall of 32 inches.
Now let’s jump right into tourism on Whidbey Island. Washington’s Whidbey Island is really a spectacular place to drive around, wander around, just taking in it all, and stopping and enjoying whatever grabs your attention. While the island is home to many small towns and villages, there are three major towns that everyone talks about – Oak Harbor, Coupeville, and Langley. These islands are located in the water, guaranteed to give you some life-altering views around you. Don’t forget to prep your camera beforehand.
So, irrespective of which exact town you spend your time in, you’re bound to have a great time, discover interesting historical facts, have the taste of delicious food linger on your tongue, with picturesque farms, gardens, islands, mountains and really, what more could anyone really ask for? You would also get the opportunity to experience the entire spectrum of outdoor activities with the inclusion of hiking, kayaking, or boating.
So, we’re going to talk about fun things you would love to do once you reach Whidbey Island.
Fun Things to Do on Whidbey Island
Outdoor Life at Deception Pass State Park
Deception Pass State Park is often deceptive about the things you can do over there, in a good way. The abundance of activities that you can do over there is just mind-boggling. As with many other Washington State Parks, hiking really is the staple food in the park. You can hike around to explore the park in its entirety. There are 38 miles of hiking trails, including ADA trails, bike trails, and horse trails.
After crossing the Deception Pass Bridge, you would experience the views that the park is known for. You could also go for beachcombing and tide-pooling at Deception Pass. West Beach is an amazing spot to enjoy Puget Sound’s serene views, the Olympic Mountains far away, and the San Juan Islands.
You could also go swimming in Cranberry Lake, not far from West Beach. You’d also get the opportunity to notice wildlife and birds, and there are also camping facilities for both overnight and day use-cases.
Visiting Fort Casey State Park
Fort Casey State Park was constructed in the late 1800s and was fully equipped for defense. It was also used as a training facility up to the mid-1940s. On display, you’d find a pair of 10-inch disappearing guns. These guns were the epitome of technology in the early 1900s, but subsequent improvements in warships and airplanes’ advent put them permanently out of action; there are also two additional 3-inch mounted guns in their original places.
You would also find a vintage lighthouse from 1903 with an additional gift shop and catacomb-Esque bunkers and batteries.
Fort Casey State Park has a 999-acre camping park with 10 thousand feet of saltwater shoreline on Puget Sound.
This park is also equipped with a completely automated pay station to purchase a one-day or annual Discover Pass.
For picnic and fun activities, you would see the Pacific Northwest National Scenic Trail, a 1,200-mile hike through some of the most beautiful and mind-bending scenery in the United States.
You could also go boating, fishing, diving at Keystone Underwater Dive Park, and Watercraft launch.
Local Cuisine for the Win
While people generally love exploring new places, food is an indispensable thing that makes one’s experience unique. Having said that, we’re in luck as Whidbey Island has some of the best restaurants with a wide selection of farm-fresh and sea fresh ingredients. You’d find local specialties here like Loganberries and Penn Cove mussels. You could grab these are the Frasers Gourmet Hideaway in Oak Harbor.
At Coupeville’s Oystercharcher, you could grab the catch of the day, along with several seasonal vegetables like halibut, new potato, corn, bean, zucchini pave and cherry salad, pine nuts, and even basil vinaigrette.
You could also visit the several farmer markets on Whidbey Island and take a sneak-peek of the island’s wineries and wine shops.
Life on Water
On Whidbey Island, you’d find a winding shoreline that forms beautiful coves and harbors. Apart from this, you’d also find several freshwater lakes on Whidbey Island where you could have fun with your run of the mill traditional water activities.
You’d find Marinas at Oak Harbor, Deception Pass State Park, and Langley. While that can be interesting for some, you would also see boat launches in a wide variety of locations along Whidbey Island’s shoreline. This includes Possession Point County Park, Freeland Park, Coupeville, Cavalero Beach, and Fort Casey.
You could do some scuba diving if that’s your jam at Keystone Underwater Park, the Langley Tire Reef, and also at the waters at Possession Point State Park.
Island County Historical Society Museum
Located in Coupeville, the Island County Historical Society Museum is completely dedicated to local history. To truly understand Whidbey Island, you should understand its history, which shaped the island’s culture as it is today. And what better place to start with than the Island County Historical Society Museum?
This museum is filled with amazing exhibits that exude history and are designed to trigger the curious kid in you and give a glimpse of how life was back then.
Permanent displays feature:
- An entire floor is dedicated to the Native Americans who had first settled here in Whidbey Island.
- A doctor’s office from the early 20th century.
- Remains of giant mammoths that roamed this earth many years ago can also be found here.
- The first telephone switchboard of Whidbey Island.
- Clothing and other everyday items used by the early European settlers, who made this their home.
- The first automobile of Whidbey Island, the 1902 Holsman, is estimated to have been used for over 5000 miles and is still in working condition to this day. The high wheel featured in this vehicle was convenient to traverse the island’s muddy roads.
You could find out more about the museum here: Island County Historical Society Museum.
Driving Around Town
With all the beauty abound in Whidbey Island, it is hard not to ride through the scenic places. But for the best of the best, do read on.
Firstly, you’d want to check out Ebey’s Landing. On this road, you’d be driving through farm country and on quiet country roads. But you’re headed for a surprise which I might as well spoil; you’d enter a small forest after a hard right at one point on the road. After the woods pass, you’d find yourself on top of a large bluff with a beautiful view of Admiralty Inlet. The road goes down to Ebey’s Landing. With the ocean on one side and fertile farms on the other, you could hardly go wrong with this one.
This next place is a local’s secret. You’d find a road called West Beach along the west side at Whidbey Island’s north end. Roll down your windows, and enjoy the ride, with the ocean on one side and beach homes on the other. You’d also come across a small lake. Of course, you should stop and take in the view sometimes; there are stops where you can enjoy the sunset along the road.
So, with that, we come to the end of this article. Of course, there are many more things to do on Whidbey Island. As you’ve already seen, it’s a pretty amazing place, and for all’s that good on God’s Earth, this place is a must-visit. Peace!