Discover history, art, mouthwatering seafood and, of course, the beautiful waters of Puget Sound during your visit to the largest island in Island County. Outdoor thrill seekers will find activity at every turn whether kayaking, paddle boarding, hiking or biking around the island. Those seeking refuge will find treasures while shopping at waterside boutiques, gift shops, art galleries and flavorful cuisine.
Travelers can make it to the island by ferry or over the Deception Pass bridge bonding Fidalgo and Whidbey islands. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the iconic 177-foot-high bridge is admired for its graceful architecture and front row seat overlooking lush emerald trees and turquoise waters.
Spend the day at Deception Pass State Park, Washington’s most-visited. Kids and adults can fish and swim in Cranberry Lake, search for seashells along the beach, hike through forests and along bluffs and listen to the collective chirp from some of the 155 species of the birds inhabiting the island. Keep an eye on the waters to catch a glimpse of harbor seals. Can’t leave just yet? Make reservations and set up camp at one of the park’s 172 tent sites. A two-year construction and restoration project starting in the spring of 2019 may cause some traffic delays in the park.
Head farther south to Oak Harbor. Named for its distinguishing Garry Oak trees, Oak Harbor is the largest of seven towns on the island. Dating back to the early 1850s, the town is rich with history and close to the Naval Air Station, built in 1942, which helped connect the city to the rest of the world. Visitors can visit the PBY Memorial Foundation Naval Heritage Center to view seaplanes, artifacts, a flight simulator and learn more about naval history.
Don’t miss Oak Harbor’s Old Fashioned Fourth of July that transforms Windjammer Park into a grand carnival event. The day is kicked off with a parade, complete with music, candy and performers and ends with a bang with the night’s fireworks show. Rides, fair food and vendors make it fun for the whole family.
From museums to historic landmarks from World War I and II, history buffs will delight in all the Coupeville town and surroundings have to offer. Visitors can go back in time at the Fort Casey Historical State Park, a 999-acre marine camping park along 10,810 feet of shoreline. Fort Casey, built in the 1800s, was used as a training facility until the mid-1940s. Park visitors can explore the original catacomb-like bunkers, an interpretative center and gift shop and gaze at the 1903 brick-red and white Spanish-style Admiralty Lighthouse.
Visitors will marvel at the sight of the Meerkerk Rhododendron Gardens, a 1960s woodland filled with 53 acres of gardens. For $5 admission, and free admission for 16 and younger, visitors can roam the gardens and a forest preserve with over four miles of trails. Hikers and cyclists alike will love the 35-mile long Kettles Trail System, which connects Coupeville with Fort Ebey State Park, located within Ebey’s Landing, a national historical reserve known for its beautiful trails.
Heading down into Langley, stapled near the southern tip of the island, travelers along the waterfront will find posh boutiques gleaming with art, jewelry, books and clothing. An art hub is Langley’s claim to fame, with galleries, studios and art walks filling the city. An art walk is held every first Saturday of the month, often offering complimentary wine, hors d’oeuvres and live music.
Summer galleries will focus on local landscapes, glass art, jewelry and table-top sculpture. Langley will be bustling during the Whidbey Island Fair, July 18-21. Fair visitors will experience farm exhibits, animals, live entertainment, a wine garden and eye-popping art on historic farm ground.
Keep exploring the parks or set your eyes on waterside fun; there is something for everyone on Whidbey Island.
For more information, visit whidbeycamanoisland.com.