If you’re looking for the perfect weekend getaway out of Seattle, plan a weekend on Whidbey Island. It’s close enough to the city, yet makes you feel like you’ve been transported somewhere far away with how beautiful and tranquil it is. There are plenty of things to do on Whidbey Island to fill your weekend.
I have been enjoying Whidbey Island weekends for over a decade, as I have family here. You can especially find me there during the summer in Seattle. I love the island so much that I even got married here!
That said, I know this island better than any other island in Washington. Based on my experience, here are some of my recommended travel tips and what to do on Whidbey Island on a weekend.
Travel Tips for a Whidbey Island Weekend
Whidbey Island is about 58 miles long, so you can easily explore it during a weekend on Whidbey. The north part has the largest city, Oak Harbor. This is also where you’ll find chain restaurants and stores, as well as a naval air station.
However, the mid to southern part of the island is why most people come. You’ll get away from the crowds and traffic, and every store or restaurant you’ll go to will be locally run during your 3 days on Whidbey Island.
Coupeville is in the middle of the island and sits right on the water, while Langley is the main city in the south part of the island. There are many small towns in between these that are also worth visiting.
Here are a few tips to make your weekend on Whidbey Island that much smoother.
How to Get to Whidbey Island
There are two ways to get to Whidbey Island. 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.
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.
Unlike places like San Juan Island where you can reserve your spot in advance, Whidbey is first come, first serve. My best advice is to try to come at 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, just bring a good book to pass the time and know there’s an Ivars by the Mukilteo ferry and a small food stand by the Clinton ferry if you get hungry.
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 3 days on Whidbey Island.
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 drive 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 weekend on Whidbey Island. 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 also many events that go on, such as the annual Whidbey Island Fair, which is hard to pick out 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 events as well, such as Coupeville’s annual Musselfest.
Where to Stay on a Whidbey Island Weekend
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 3 days on 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 of homes that are 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.
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; book your house here)
- This beautiful home has a wraparound deck that will give you stunning views at sunset. (rates start at $199 per night; book your house here)
Best Things to Do on Whidbey Island for a Weekend
There are plenty of things to do in Whidbey Island, whether you’re on the north end of the island or on the south end. Here’s what to do during a weekend on Whidbey.
Visit Deception Pass State Park
One of the most visited parks in the state is Deception Pass State Park, so you’ll want to put this on your Whidbey Island itinerary. 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.
You can hike on the trails and even camp here in the summer when looking for what to do on Whidbey Island. This is a popular activity for people taking a day trip to Whidbey Island.
Explore 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 on how to be prepared.
You can walk around, on top of, and in some parts of the fort that are still open to the public on your weekend on Whidbey Island.
Go Wine Tasting
One of the huge draws about planning a Whidbey Island weekend 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 probably one of the best things to do in Whidbey Island.
Here are some of my favorite wineries to visit when you spend 3 days 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, and they have several outdoor areas to taste wine in. When you go indoors, you’ll be greeted by an adorable Australian Shepherd.
- Holmes Harbor Cellars – This winery has won many awards for their 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 on a regular basis in addition to lawn games. They recently started making a rosé, but it’s become so popular that it was sold out when I was there.
- Comforts of Whidbey – As I mentioned before, this bed and breakfast on Whidbey Island is also a winery. Even if you’re not staying there, stop by to try their wine and enjoy a glass while sitting out on the spacious deck.
Shop in Downtown Langley
One of my favorite things about the islands in the area like Orcas Island is there are always cute boutique stores. You’ll find wine tasting shops and plenty of restaurants and cafes downtown that you’ll want to put on your Whidbey Island itinerary. Langley is considered “downtown Whidbey Island,” as it’s the most popular city on the island.
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 during your 3 days on Whidbey, from chocolate-scented candles to chocolate jam.
Catch a Flick
Since 1937, The Clyde has been showing movies in its small, one-room theater. The best part is the prices haven’t inflated drastically with the times., so you can do this on a budget on your Whidbey Island weekend.
You can easily see a movie and get a large popcorn and soda for less than $10. This is one of the cheapest things to do in Whidbey Island.
Check Out Local Events
There’s always something going on when you’re looking for what to do on Whidbey Island this weekend. Whether it’s a wine tasting festival, art show, or a mussel festival, you’ll love the local events.
Check online before coming to see what’s going on that weekend in Whidbey Island. This is especially true during the summer, where it feels like something is always going on during a Whidbey weekend.
How to Spend a Fun Weekend on Whidbey Island
Here’s a suggested itinerary for 3 days on Whidbey Island including the best places to visit on Whidbey Island.
Day 1 – Explore Downtown Langley
I recommend getting to the ferry dock early to decrease your wait time and start your day sooner. Once you get onto the island, stop at Cafe in the Woods at Mukilteo Coffee for breakfast or lunch. You can also just come here for a cup of coffee and plan your day when finding fun things to do on Whidbey Island.
After that, head to downtown Langley to check out the shops. You’ll find everything from lavender to wine to chocolate here. You can also head down to the water if the tide’s out to walk on the beach.
In the evening, make a reservation at Prima Bistro, one of the fancier restaurants on the island. The restaurant is a good place to go when you’re in the mood for seafood. They have an outdoor area upstairs you can sit at while overlooking the water. That’s the perfect way to spend one of your 3 days on Whidbey Island in my opinion.
Day 2 – Visit a Fort and Coupeville
On the second day of your weekend on Whidbey Island, get coffee and pastries to go. You can then head up to Fort Casey. Even if you’re not a history buff, you’ll find this is one of the most interesting things to do on Whidbey Island. You’ll learn about how the area used to be back in the day.
When you’re ready to lunch, drive to the nearby city of Coupeville to eat at Front Street Grill. This is the best restaurant in the area for waterfront dining. They always focus on fresh, local food, and this is the place to come if you’re craving seafood.
During the afternoon, walk around the shops and make sure to get ice cream from the famous Kapaws Iskreme. You can decide to eat dinner in this area (I recommend Toby’s Tavern) or head back to your lodging.
Day 3 – Try Local Wine
I always prefer wine tasting on Sundays because the wineries tend to be less crowded than they are on Saturdays. Pick out a few that you want to visit and enjoy taking your time sampling the wine during your Whidbey weekend.
Some let you sit outside and enjoy the sun as well. Many wineries are also dog-friendly, so just call ahead of time to confirm.
Stop at Village Pizzeria for a late lunch on your way back to the ferry from your weekend on Whidbey. Sometimes you just need a hearty slice of pizza, and Langley’s Village Pizzeria has just that. They also have a selection of pasta dishes and a full bar.
When you’re done, head back to the ferry line to start your trip home from your weekend on Whidbey Island. 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!