Whidbey Island is the perfect spot for families looking for a fun day trip or weekend getaway. The island is about 40 miles long and is a popular destination amongst locals and those visiting the Pacific Northwest. It only takes a couple of hours to get to Whidbey Island from Kitsap County, and Whidbey is about an hour and 15 minutes from Seattle.
Getting to Whidbey Island
If you’re going from Kitsap County to Whidbey Island, you’ll most likely drive and then ferry over. The Port Townsend/Coupeville ferry takes about 35 minutes and drops visitors off on the northern end of the island. Most ferries are loaded on a first-come, first-served basis, but we recommend making a vehicle reservation for the Port Townsend/Coupeville ferry. Alternatively, the Mukilteo/Clinton ferry is ideal to visit the southern portion of the island. The crossing time is about 20 minutes. If you drive around from the Seattle area, you’ll get to cross the picturesque Deception Pass Bridge.
State Parks Galore
Celebrated for its natural beauty, Whidbey Island offers many ways to spend time in nature. Deception Pass State Park is the most visited state park in Washington for good reason. Between the biking, equestrian and hiking trails and the popular Cranberry Lake, visitors are in for a treat. Cranberry Lake also has a dedicated swimming area, which is ideal on hot summer days.
Another popular destination is Ebey’s Landing Reserve. It offers kids and family programming as part of an active working partnership with local farms. The reserve also houses three state parks within its borders: Fort Ebey, Fort Casey, and Ebey’s Landing State Park. Exploring the forts and hiking along their bluffs makes for an unforgettable experience.
Visit Whidbey’s Unique Communities
Whidbey Island has three major cities: Oak Harbor, Langley, and Coupeville. Oak Harbor is the largest city on the island and is home to a number of restaurants and shops. It is also the closest city to the Naval Air Station Whidbey Island (NASWI). The city co-hosts an annual Military Appreciation Picnic in September and you can learn more about the military history of the area at the Pacific Northwest Naval Air Museum.
Langley is a quaint waterfront city on the southern end of Whidbey Island. It hosts the Island Shakespeare Festival, which runs performances from mid-July to mid-September. Home to many artists and studios, you and your family can enjoy a First Saturday Art Walk and delve into the Langley art scene. Langley Whale Center is also a fun place to explore. You can view the whale sightings map, check out whale skulls, and listen to orcas in the listening booth.
Coupeville lies in the heart of Ebey’s Landing Reserve. It is the second oldest town in Washington and hosts many fun festivals throughout the year. Coming up in October is The Haunting of Coupeville – a great way to get into the Halloween spirit. You and your family members may also enjoy Haunted Fort Casey State Park. Other popular festivals in town include a MusselFest in March and an annual Water Festival in May that features annual tribal canoe races and dance performances.
Food & Drink on Whidbey Island
Whidbey has a variety of wonderful restaurants, coffee shops, wineries, and breweries. Check out this interactive map of popular restaurants on Whidbey Island and the neighboring Camano Island. While it’s hard to pick just a few great restaurants, Front Street Grill in Coupeville has excellent mussels and cioppino. The Braeburn in Langley is a delicious spot for breakfast and lunch, and Honeymoon Bay Coffee Roasters in Oak Harbor has great coffee and pastries. You can also enjoy local eats by visiting one of the local farmers’ markets. For a family-friendly place to grab a bite and a pint, check out Flyers Restaurant and Brewery in Oak Harbor. They’ve won many awards, and they’re dog-friendly. If you’re looking for a kid-friendly winery, Holmes Harbor Cellars is a family-owned, award-winning winery in Greenbank. They welcome kids and pets, and have igloos and cabanas to enjoy.
However you decide to spend a day or weekend on Whidbey Island, we hope you and your family have a wonderful time. And, if you fall in love with Whidbey and want to stay a little longer, check out this helpful Whidbey Island Guide, created by our friends at Windermere Real Estate Whidbey Island.