When you need to get away for the day there’s nothing better than visiting one of the many islands in Washington. While many of them have charm, one of the best Seattle day trips is visiting Whidbey Island. With the area being so close to Seattle, you’ll be able to find plenty of things to do during your Whidbey Island day trip.
I visit Whidbey Island multiple times a year, sometimes just to take a day trip to Whidbey Island and sometimes to spend a weekend on Whidbey. That said, I know how to maximize my time while I’m there, so I’ll show you some of the best places to visit on the island.
Read on to find out tips for planning your day trip to Whidbey, where you should stop, and a sample itinerary you can follow for one day on Whidbey Island.
Tips for One Day on Whidbey Island
Taking a day trip from Seattle to Whidbey Island is fairly easy and is one of the best road trips from Seattle that’s short. Whidbey Island can be reached by taking your car on a ferry in Mukilteo and enjoying the short 15-minute ride.
If you’re coming from the peninsula, you’ll take a ferry ride from Port Townsend to Coupeville, which is midway on the island.
You can also drive around to Deception Pass at the very north end of the island and drive down that way (but make sure to check out the best things to do in Anacortes on your way down).
Here are a few tips to keep in mind when planning your Whidbey Island day trip from Seattle.
- Get to the ferry early – Unlike when you visit San Juan Island or other islands in the state, you can’t make a reservation for the Mukilteo-Clinton ferry. That means you should plan to go early if you’ll be going on the weekend or other peak times. You can find the ferry schedule online.
- Keep in mind how long the island is – Whidbey Island is the longest island in the state and is approximately 58 miles long. While you can still visit the entire island during a day trip to Whidbey Island, you may want to plan it out on a map to see how long it’ll take you from one spot to the next.
- You’ll need a car – While you can walk on the ferry, it’ll drop you off in the town of Clinton, which is on the south end of the island. You could take a taxi up to Langley about 10 minutes north and easily spend half a day there. However, you will need a car to explore the rest of the island.
Below is a map so you can understand how long the island is and where some of the main cities are when planning your trip to Whidbey Island for the day.
What to Do on a Whidbey Island Day Trip
Here are the places you can stop during your day trip to Whidbey Island. I recommend mapping them out before you go so you can visit all of them in order if you only have one day on Whidbey.
Explore a Historic Fort
One of my favorite things to do on a Whidbey Island day trip is to learn the history of the island. Fort Casey Historical State Park has the remains of a fort from the 1800s that you can walk around. The fort was built for defending the area and became a training facility in the 1940s.
You’ll be able to walk in some of the bunkers and see some of the guns that are still on display. There’s also a nearby trail to walk around and a big field that’s popular with people flying kites. You can even bring a picnic during your one day on Whidbey Island to have lunch there.
Visit the Town of Coupeville
Coupeville is halfway up the island and a city I recommend you stop at during your Whidbey day trip. It’s a waterfront town full of small shops and restaurants, and you can easily take a half day trip to Whidbey Island just to visit this area.
Some of my favorite places to stop in Coupeville are Penn Cove Taproom, Front Street Grill, Kapaws Iskreme, and Back to the Island. You can also stop at Lavender Wind Farm for amazing souvenirs to take home on your day trip from Seattle to Whidbey Island.
If you do decide to extend your one day on Whidbey, I recommend staying at Captain Whidbey Inn. This historic inn has bike rentals, a library, a restaurant, and a bar. It’s overall a cozy place to stay, especially during winter in Seattle.
Shop at a Farmer’s Market
Every Saturday from 10 am to 2 pm, the Bayview Farmers Market is held rain or shine. I love stopping here on my Whidbey Island day trip from Seattle to stock up on local fruits, vegetables, and more. You’ll find dozens of different vendors selling everything from honey to fudge to tea.
They also have several food stands if you want to grab lunch here and sit at a nearby table or bench. During the summer, you’ll be treated to live music as you shop. Make sure to bring your own bag so you can put everything you buy in there.
Taste Local Wine
Many people take a day trip to Whidbey Island just to visit the numerous wineries in the area. Whether you prefer a small, intimate winery or a larger, kid-friendly one, you’ll find a Whidbey Island winery for everyone.
Most of them have outdoor areas to enjoy the sun during the warm weather, but also have cozy indoor areas for a Whidbey Island day trip in the winter.
While there are a variety to visit, here are the ones I always recommend to my friends for a Whidbey Island day trip:
- Comforts of Whidbey – They have a variety of whites, reds, sparkling, and dessert wine to try. The winery overlooks a vineyard, a peak of the ocean, and even a few llamas roaming around. You can also stay here overnight in their bed and breakfast upstairs (I’ve done this and had a very relaxing experience).
- Blooms Winery – Pictured above, Blooms has evolved from a small winery to a full restaurant with amazing local food. You can come here to sit outside on their deck and wine taste, or you can enjoy dinner while listening to live music during your Whidbey Island one day trip. They also have a fun gift shop (perfect for unique Seattle gifts) where I always pick up a new wine-related item.
- Dancing Fish Vineyards – This winery is my favorite when it’s sunny outside, as they have a huge outdoor area. You can walk up to the vineyards, enjoy your wine tasting on the patio, or even play lawn games. You’ll want to come here if you’re on a Whidbey day trip with kids, as they’ll love playing outside while you sip wine.
Take a Hike
Similar to other islands like Vashon Island, there are many hikes on Whidbey Island, but my favorite is Ebey’s Landing Trail. This hike is an easy 5.6-mile roundtrip trail with only 260 feet elevation gain, so it’s easy for most skill levels. Ebey’s Landing is also one of my favorite winter hikes in Washington.
You’ll enjoy beautiful views of the ocean as you hike along the trail that goes along the coastline and in and out of the forest. The trail also faces Canada, so if you’re really lucky you may even have a view of a foreign country when you visit Whidbey Island for the day.
While this is a moderate hike, you’ll also enjoy other easier hikes around Washington on the island if you prefer.
Watch Live Music
If your itinerary for a day trip to Whidbey Island includes staying past dinner, you’ll want to stop at The Taproom at Bayview. They have live music on the weekend from local artists, and it’s always a blast to stop by to see who’s playing.
The Taproom also has about a dozen different beers and ciders on tap that are always rotating. That means you’ll likely have a new selection to choose from if you take another Whidbey Island day trip. They also have a full menu including crab cakes, nachos, and more.
Take Pictures at Deception Pass
One of the most popular activities in the area is taking a Deception Pass day trip. The pass connects Whidbey Island to Fidalgo Island (where you can eventually get to the freeway) and is a stunning place to stop for photos. The water is a beautiful green color, and you’ll often see whirlpools forming below.
While I recommend stopping here during your Whidbey day trip, you should also look into a boat or a kayak tour if you have time. I’ve done both and they’re a great way to see the bridge from below in a different view that most people don’t see.
The kayak tour will have you west of the bridge and far enough that you won’t be pulled in by the tide. Almost any skill level can do this tour. If you’re feeling a little more adventurous, the boat tour will take you right under the bridge and around the whirlpools.
Shop in Downtown Langley
One of the most popular things to do in this small Washington town is shopping in downtown Langley. With all the cute boutique shops to visit, it’s great for a Whidbey Island day trip in the winter. Some of my favorite stores include The Star Store, Moonraker Books, Sweet Mona’s, and Good Cheer Thrift Store.
When you get hungry, you can check out The Braeburn for breakfast or lunch, Village Pizzeria for pizza and Italian food with a few, or Saltwater Fish House & Oyster Bar for amazing seafood. There are also several cafes to get coffee from if you need an energy boost.
Itinerary for a Day Trip to Whidbey Island
Here is a suggested plan for a day trip to Whidbey Island.
- Morning – Get in line for the ferry, stop for coffee and breakfast at Useless Bay Coffee, sit outside to watch the town come to life
- Mid-morning – Head up to Deception Pass
- Noon – Go down to Coupeville for lunch at Front Street Grill, stop at Kapaws Iskreme for ice cream
- Afternoon – Explore Fort Casey and walk on Ebey’s Landing Trail, or go wine tasting
- Evening – Back to Langley for dinner at Saltwater Fish House & Oyster Bar
Only have time for a half day trip to Whidbey Island? Not a problem! Here’s what I suggest you do to maximize your time.
- Morning – Visit Bayview Farmer’s Market if on a Saturday (opens at 10 am), walk around the shops in Langley and get a few gifts to take home
- Noon – Lunch at Village Pizzeria
- Afternoon – Wine taste at Blooms Winery and Dancing Fish Vineyards before heading back to the ferry
Once you take your first Whidbey Island day trip, I guarantee you’ll be back again with all the things there are to do. Whether you do a half day trip to Whidbey Island or spend a full one day on Whidbey Island, you’ll love how easy this trip is from Seattle.