When you need a quick place to relax and get away from the city, look no further than Whidbey Island! This beautiful island is just a short and scenic ferry ride away from Mukilteo, yet it feels like a world away with its stunning scenery and peaceful atmosphere. There are so many things to do on Whidbey Island, and I keep discovering new ones every year.
I consider myself a bit of a Whidbey Island expert – my in-laws have a house here, so I’ve been a frequent visitor to Whidbey Island for over 15 years now. In fact, I’m so in love with this place that I even got married at a beautiful venue in Langley! I’ve brought many friends here over the years in every season because they always have some kind of event going on, and everyone always looks forward to finding out what new store or winery has opened up.
Whether you’re looking to escape the Seattle summer heat or cozy up by the fireplace during the winter months, Whidbey Island has something for everyone. I’ve put together a list of my top tips and recommendations for making the most of your getaway here, whether you’re traveling solo, on a romantic trip, or with kids. Let’s dive into some of the best things to do on Whidbey Island and make your weekend memorable!
1. Visit Deception Pass State Park
One of the most visited state parks is Deception Pass State Park, so you’ll want to put this on your Whidbey Island itinerary. This should be high on your list of what to do in the Pacific Northwest if you haven’t been here yet.
The bridge connects Whidbey Island to the mainland, and many people pull off to the side to walk on the sidewalks on the bridge to see the famous whirlpools that form in the water in Deception Pass. Just be careful when walking by the road, as cars constantly whiz by.
You can go on the hiking trails and even camp here in the summer when looking for things to do on Whidbey Island. This is one of the more popular things to see on Whidbey Island, so you might have to share the road with others.
One of my favorite activities in the area is to go on a guided kayaking tour, as you’ll see the area from a whole new perspective. The last time I went, I had seals and porpoises curiously following my group around, and it was such a fun experience.
Address: 41229 State Rte 20, Oak Harbor, WA 98277
2. Explore a Historic Fort at Fort Casey State Park
History lovers will enjoy stopping by Fort Casey State Park in Coupeville, as this is one of the most educational things to do on Whidbey Island. While the fort was never used in an actual battle, it was built in the late 1800s to train officers and soldiers.
You can walk around, on top of, and in some parts of the fort that are still open to the public, making it one of the most popular Whidbey Island attractions. People of all ages will enjoy this, but it’s one of the top fun things to do on Whidbey Island for kids who need to get their energy out.
My toddler loved exploring the fort and then running on the grass after, and it’s fun to put on a day trip to Whidbey Island. He now requests to go back here when we visit because he thinks it’s so cool to run in and out of all the rooms and see the giant cannons.
Note: A Discover Pass is required to enter here, so buy yours ahead to save time and money.
Address: 1280 Engle Rd, Coupeville, WA 98239
3. Go Wine Tasting Around the Island
One of the huge draws to planning a Whidbey Island trip is how many wineries are on the island. You could spend the whole weekend wine tasting on Whidbey Island, as there are about a dozen different places to go. This is also one of the most romantic things to do on Whidbey Island if you’re trying to impress someone.
I always prefer wine tasting on Sundays because the wineries tend to be less crowded than on Saturdays. Pick out a few that you want to visit and enjoy taking your time sampling the wine during your Whidbey Island trip.
Some let you sit outside and enjoy the sun as well, which is perfect in the summer. Many wineries are also dog-friendly, but call ahead of time to confirm. Wine tasting is easily one of the best Whidbey Island activities, no matter what the season.
Here are some of my favorite wineries to visit when looking for fun things to do on Whidbey Island:
- Spoiled Dog Winery: I go to this winery almost every time I’m in town, as I love the property. The vineyards are right on the property, with several outdoor areas to taste wine. They’ll often have you pair chocolate with wine, which I always love.
- Holmes Harbor Cellars: This winery has won many awards for its wine, and when you go wine tasting, you’ll see why. They have an outdoor patio that overlooks Holmes Harbor and a friendly cockapoo who will greet you when you come.
- Dancing Fish Vineyards: This winery makes it easy to spend an afternoon or evening here, as they have live music regularly and lawn games. They recently started making rosé, but it’s become so popular that it was sold out when I was there.
- Comforts of Whidbey: This is a bed and breakfast on Whidbey Island but also a winery, and I love coming here. Even if you’re not staying there, stop by to try their wine and enjoy a glass while sitting out on the spacious deck.
4. Shop in Downtown Langley
One of my favorite things about the islands in the area, like Orcas Island, is that there are always cute boutique stores to visit. You’ll also find wine-tasting shops and plenty of restaurants and cafes in downtown Langley that you’ll want to put on your Whidbey Island itinerary. It’s by far one of the best small towns in Washington, so you’ll want to stop here for a bit.
Langley is often considered “downtown Whidbey Island,” as it’s the most popular city on the island, and the area is one of the best islands near Seattle.
Check out Sweet Mona’s for delicious fudge, or head over to the Star Store if you’re looking to stock up on healthy food for the weekend. The Chocolate Flower Farm is a place to buy all things chocolate, from chocolate-scented candles to chocolate jam.
5. Sample Local Beer
While Whidbey may get a reputation as a wine lover’s paradise, they still have beer connoisseurs covered. They barely had any breweries when I started coming here 15 years ago, and that’s vastly changed over the years.
I do love spending an afternoon at a winery, but Whidbey breweries are always where we take our friends when we go with a group. They’re a bit more laid-back and also have cider options at most places, so there’s something for almost everyone.
Here are some of the Whidbey Island breweries that I go to over and over:
- Double Bluff Brewing Company is in downtown Langley and is perfect when you need a break from shopping
- Penn Cove Brewing Co. has locations in Coupeville and Freeland and has fun events like trivia or live music at night
- Wicked Teuton Brewing Company is in Oak Harbor and has almost two dozen beers on tap
- Taproom @ Bayview Corner isn’t officially a brewery, but I had to include it because I’ve been here dozens of times (I even ended my wedding night here), and I love all the local beer on tap
6. Walk Around Coupeville
Coupeville is another Whidbey Island must-see, and I always recommend everyone stop here in addition to Langley. Located in the middle of the island, the area has plenty of restaurants, shops, and amazing waterfront views, making it ideal to put on your Washington bucket list.
When you’re ready for lunch or dinner, check out Front Street Grill. This is the best restaurant in the area for waterfront dining if you want fresh, local seafood. If you’re looking for a more casual place, I always love visiting Toby’s Tavern. This building has been around since 1890 and is the perfect place to get a pint of beer and fish and chips.
If you’re in the mood for something sweet, make sure to get ice cream from the famous Kapaws Iskreme. After, you can walk down the wooden pier to visit the shops at the end and get some beautiful pictures (try coming here at sunset!).
If you love mussels, you won’t want to miss the famous Penn Cove Musselfest, which takes place every March in the town and lets you sample a handful of local restaurants’ take on mussel chowder. I always make sure to get tickets to this, as it’s fun to taste the chowders, have my kids do the scavenger hunt, and stop by the beer garden to listen to local music. Our whole family looks forward to this Coupeville event every year.
7. Go Out on the Tide Flats at Langley Beach
There are many accessible beaches around the island that you can go to when the tide goes out. You’ll find plenty of crabs, starfish, and more lounging in the pools of water. I do this almost every time I visit, as it’s one of the best free things to do on Whidbey Island if you like exploring.
Langley Beach is the perfect place to go, as anyone is able to access the beach by going down the stairs located on 1st Street. You’ll want to look at the tide chart for low tide days, as it’s always amazing how far you can walk out.
You may also see whales passing through if you’re there at the times of the year when they’re migrating. I can’t tell you how many times whales have been in the waters on the same weekend I’ve been there. If you want to find them, you can take a whale-watching tour, as many hang out around the south end of the island.
Address: Stairs off 1st St, Langley, WA 98260
8. Hike Ebey’s Landing
If you’ve followed me for a while, you know I always try to get a hike in wherever I go, whether that’s a winter hike in Washington or an easy Washington hike. There are several hikes you can do around the island, and most are easy for the majority of skill levels. This makes them one of the top things to do on Whidbey Island if you want to be active.
My favorite Whidbey hike is Ebey’s Landing, which is at Ebey’s Landing State Park, is 5.6 miles roundtrip, and has an elevation gain of 260 feet. You’ll get beautiful views of the water during your time on the trail, and I always find it to be very relaxing.
While I would consider it kid-friendly, the trail is narrow in parts and goes along the cliff. That said, I would make sure your children are at an age where they can listen and not run off, or you can wear them if they’re young enough. Our kid was small enough that we had him on my husband’s shoulders when we went, just to be safe.
Note: You do need a Discover Pass to park here (or you can pay the daily fee).
Buy your Discover Pass in advance so you don’t need to pay at the trailhead.
Address: Ebey’s Landing Rd, Coupeville, WA 98239
9. Visit Greenbank Farm
One of my favorite things to do on Whidbey Island when friends come with me is to bring them to Greenbank Farm. This former farm now has a restaurant that serves some amazing food and even better pies (you’ll want to get one to go!).
You can also taste wine while you’re here or shop for local crafts. The holidays are a particularly fun time to visit the farm, so they have great gifts to give others. There are also two art galleries if you want to spend an afternoon looking around.
Address: 765 Wonn Rd, Greenbank, WA 98253
10. Attend the Whidbey Island Fair
Going to the Whidbey Island Fair was one of the first things to do on Whidbey Island that I discovered, and I’ve been back at least a dozen times since. This tends to happen during the last week of July each year, and it’s well worth it to plan your visit to Whidbey Island around this.
They take over the Whidbey Island Fairgrounds to sell a variety of fair food (we always get the giant plate of curly fries), have live events to watch, and have tons of educational exhibits set up.
Now that I have two little boys, it’s been so fun to see it through their eyes. They dance to live music, go on all the amusement rides, and love looking at all the animal exhibits. The Fair is something we’ll keep going to year after year.
Address: 819 Camano Ave, Langley, WA 98260
11. Start Your Morning With Whidbey Doughnuts
Fun fact: I worked as a barista at a donut shop in college, so I consider myself both a donut and coffee snob. That said, I’m always cautious when trying new donut shops, but Whidbey Doughnuts is absolutely amazing. We love to come here first thing in the morning when we stay on the island, and I’m always pleased with how fresh the donuts are.
My boys always think it’s a special treat to pick out donuts for the whole family, but the hardest part is convincing them not to eat them all before we get back! They have a nice outdoor area where you can enjoy your coffee and donut before continuing your day.
Address: 5603 Bayview Rd Suite #6, Langley, WA 98260
12. Kayak Saratoga Passage
One of the more unique things to do on Whidbey Island is that you can kayak virtually around the whole island (although that would take quite a while). However, Saratoga Passage (which runs between east Whidbey and west Camano) is the best, in my opinion, as the water tends to be calmer here and you have a chance of seeing whales.
I love going out on the water in the summer with a snack packed and exploring the ocean for a bit. You can even kayak across the water to Camano Island at some of the accessible beach points (which is also worth a separate trip to explore all the Camano Island activities there).
As always, make sure you practice water safety by wearing a life jacket, preferably going with someone else, and watching out for the larger boats that pass by. You’ll likely see curious seals following you in the water and, if you’re really lucky, a whale.
13. Indulge in Ramen at Ultra House
Ramen has become one of the more popular foods in Seattle, as there are tons of restaurants that have popped up. However, Langley’s Ultra House puts them all to shame, as they have the best ramen I’ve ever had. My tofu ramen paired with sake made for one of the most delicious meals I’ve ever had on the island.
This place has become pretty popular, so I recommend having either an early or late dinner if you want to stop by. Grab a seat outside on their patio when it’s sunny out.
Address: 221 Second Street #9A, Langley, WA 98260
14. Fly Kites at Fort Casey
Make sure to bring your kite when you visit Fort Casey, as it’s one of the best places to fly kites. There’s a big, open field right next to the ocean, so the wind really comes through here. My kids used to love watching others fly kites, but now we have our own kites that we bring with us on trips.
I also recommend bringing a large blanket to sit on and have a picnic, as it’s an ideal spot to take a break from your exploration.
15. Catch Crabs and Mussels
Whidbey restaurants are known for delicious seafood, which is thanks to the prevalence of crabbing and harvesting mussels in the nearby waters. We love going out on a boat to drop crab pots and coming back later in the day to find that dinner is ready. Nothing tastes better than fresh crab dipped in garlic butter, especially in the summertime.
You can find out more information online about how to crab or fish and when the season is open.
Looking for another ocean getaway? You’ll love all the things to do on San Juan Island.
16. Play Chess at Bayview Corner
One of the most kid-friendly things to do on Whidbey Island is to visit this giant chess set located at Bayview Corner. It’s so funny seeing my boys play this because my husband and I have been coming here for years to play with our friends. We’d have a few beers at the Taproom @ Bayview Corner and then try our best at playing chess.
This is also in the same area as Whidbey Doughnuts, so grab a donut and then come over here to get some energy out. You’ll love stopping here, as it’s one of the best places to visit on Whidbey Island.
Address: Bayview Corner, Langley, WA 98260
17. Explore South Whidbey State Park
Address: 4128 S Smugglers Cove Rd, Freeland, WA 98249
South Whidbey State Park is the perfect place to spend a few hours, as it has tons of hiking trails through the woods in an old-growth forest. You also have beach access here, so you can make sand castles or explore the tide flats.
I love that they have picnic shelters here, so you can have lunch when it’s a bit too hot or if it’s drizzling. There are over 381 acres here, so there’s no shortage of places to visit here, and it’s a great family-friendly thing to do on Whidbey Island.
Map of Things to Do on Whidbey Island
Here’s a visual look at all these activities on Whidbey Island.
How to Get to Whidbey Island
There are three ways to get to Whidbey Island, which include the following:
The most common way is by ferry, and if you’re coming from Seattle to Whidbey Island, you’ll head to the Mukilteo ferry (about 30 minutes north) to take the 15-minute ferry ride to the south end of Whidbey Island to the town of Clinton. You can check out the ferry on the WSDOT website.
Similar to visiting Bainbridge Island, you can’t make a reservation, so it’s first come, first served. It is important to note that the ferry line gets very backed up during holidays and summer months at peak hours, to the tune of a two- or even three-hour wait. My best advice is to go during off-hours, such as late at night on a Thursday or early in the morning on Friday.
If you’re not able to avoid the busy times, bring a good book to pass the time, and know there’s an Ivars by the Mukilteo ferry (although the new ferry dock is a bit of a walk from there now) and a small food stand by the Clinton ferry if you get hungry.
Port Townsend-Coupeville Ferry
If you’re coming from the peninsula on the western part of Washington, you can go to Port Townsend to take the ferry to Coupeville. This will take you about 35 minutes to cross, and you’ll be in the middle of the island when you get off for your three days on Whidbey Island.
Deception Pass Bridge
While it is an island, Whidbey is also connected by the Deception Pass Bridge up north in Anacortes. It takes about an hour and a half to drive from Seattle to Anacortes, and from there, it takes an hour to go down the island.
When the wait to get on the Whidbey Island ferry starts to get over two hours, driving is a good alternative so you can start your trip. There are plenty of fun things to do in Anacortes, so you can spend a few hours there if you want to make a long weekend of it.
Best Time to Visit Whidbey Island
To be honest, there’s no “best” time to visit Whidbey Island. I’ve been here every season multiple times and love them all for different reasons. Summer is great for a weekend vacation from Seattle if you want to get out on the water and walk on the beach. There are many events during the summer, such as the annual Whidbey Island Fair, and it is hard to pick the best weekend on Whidbey Island to plan your vacation.
Fall is my second favorite time to visit, as it’s prime harvesting season for grapes. It’s fun to go wine tasting as the weather starts to get cooler. Winter is a great time to visit, too. There’s something cozy about being on the island during a stormy winter day as you look out at the ocean.
Spring brings plenty of things to do on Whidbey Island as well, such as Coupeville’s annual Musselfest or spring hikes around Washington like Ebey’s Landing.
Where to Stay on Whidbey Island
There are plenty of places to book your Whidbey Island lodging, but I recommend staying somewhere that’s relaxing and private. Nothing beats waking up in a Whidbey Island bed and breakfast in the morning with the trees and water surrounding you. No matter where on the island you stay, you’ll also notice how quiet it is.
- Comforts of Whidbey: One of the best places to stay in Langley is Comforts of Whidbey. It’s less than 10 minutes away from the Clinton ferry and close to downtown Langley. The rooms are above the wine-tasting room and look out over the property. (rates start at $236 per night; book your room on Booking.com or Hotels.com)
- Captain Whidbey: If your base is in Coupeville during your trip to Whidbey, check out Captain Whidbey. It’s right on the beach, has a bar and restaurant in it, and was built in 1907, which gives it an old-school charm. (rates start at $149 per night; book your room on Booking.com or Hotels.com)
Another good option for Whidbey Island lodging is to look at a vacation rental, as there are dozens rented out throughout the year. This is particularly smart if you have a large group coming together, as you can all stay together and cook in the kitchen during your stay to save money near Seattle.
Here are a few recommendations:
- This waterfront home has stunning views of nearby Camano Island and Puget Sound and can host up to eight people. (rates start at $229 per night)
- This beautiful home has a wraparound deck that will give you stunning views at sunset. (rates start at $199 per night)
When you’re done with your trip on the island, it’s time to head back to the ferry line. While you wait, you can look back at all the things to do on Whidbey Island that you found and start planning your next trip back!