1 Day on Whidbey Island

Explore charming towns, winding roads, and idyllic beaches during one day on Whidbey Island.

Located in Puget Sound south of the San Juan Islands and north of Seattle, Whidbey Island is easily accessible from bustling Seattle and other Washington cities, making it the perfect destination for a day trip packed with sightseeing.

Getting There

Visitors can reach Whidbey Island from multiple locations. For those coming from Seattle and other cities to the south, the most direct route is to drive to Mukilteo and take the 20-minute ferry to Clinton on the southern end of the island.

If coming from Bellingham or Vancouver, B.C., drive from Fidalgo Island across the Deception Pass Bridge at the northern end of Whidbey Island.

Lastly, those coming from the Olympic Peninsula can take the ferry from Port Townsend to Coupeville.

To get the most out of one day on Whidbey Island, you’ll want a car. A scenic byway runs down the length of the island, connecting Deception Pass to Clinton and providing access to Oak Harbor, Coupeville, Greenbank, Langley, and other destinations.

One Day on Whidbey Island

To maximize time, head straight to the opposite end of the island and work your way back, visiting towns and seeing sights along the way before returning home the way you came. Entering one end of the island and leaving from the other is also an option.

Take in the view at Deception Pass

Visit the wildly popular Deception Pass State Park and Deception Pass Bridge at the northern end of the island for sweeping views and pebble beaches. Marvel at the view from the bridge or hike one of the park’s many forest or bluff trails. Aim to visit in the morning or during the week to avoid the crowds at Washington’s most-visited state park. While it would be easy to spend an entire day here, there’s more to see and do on Whidbey Island.

Discover naval history in Oak Harbor

Oak Harbor is the largest city on Whidbey Island and is home to the Pacific Northwest Naval Air Museum. Aviation geeks and history buffs will appreciate a visit to this museum, which tells the story of the island’s Naval Air Station and offers an up-close look at the PBY- Catalina 5A aircraft.

Stroll historic Coupeville

About 20 minutes from Oak Harbor is the waterfront town of Coupeville. Stroll the quaint downtown and shop in local boutiques before dining on local Penn Cove mussels. The Coupeville wharf with its iconic red building juts out into the water from Front Street, offering a great opportunity for photos. Nearby, art lovers can wander the outdoor Price Sculpture Forest.

Explore Ebey’s Landing National Historical Reserve

Ebey’s Landing National Historical Reserve is home to three state parks: Fort Casey, Fort Ebey, and Ebey’s Landing. Take a step back in time and explore the catacomb-like bunkers and batteries at Fort Casey and Fort Ebey. If visiting in the winter or later in the evening, be sure to bring a headlamp or flashlight.

At Ebey’s landing, get out and hike the Bluff Loop, one of the most popular trails on the island. This 3.5-mile hike along the bluff and beach offers dramatic views of the Olympic Mountains. The beach is also perfect for beachcombing and picnics. Beachgoers can find plenty of other options throughout the island, too.

Taste local wines

Wine lovers can’t miss visiting one of the handful of local wineries that dot the island and offer a diverse selection of red and white wines. Be sure to check business hours before you go and drink responsibly. The quaint Greenbank Farm features converted barns for wine-tastings, shopping, and art shows.

Shop and dine in Langley

In Langley, you’ll find a tightly knit downtown filled with art galleries, bakeries, and boutiques. Find handmade jewelry, clothing, home goods, books, and so much more. Before you leave, be sure to grab a bite at one of the town’s excellent restaurants, which include everything from fine-dining to casual cafes.

About the Author

Lora Shinn